Results of the Board of Aldermen Meeting Conerning Del Taco
| 212 South Grand Avenue|
To say it was hot in the chambers of the Board of Alderman is an understatement. Whirling fans and open doors to an exterior balcony did little to cool the room. The aldermen roamed the chambers, shaking hands and taking with their peers. A bell, similar to a model used in public schools, rang several time announcing to the Aldermen and women that the meeting was about to commence. Above the chambers, in a small interior balcony, is a viewing area where the general public can watch the process of our city government. Among those in the balcony above the Board of Alderman chambers were three security guards, a camera man, a reporter, an architect and Landmarks Association.
Board Bill 118, the ordinance concerning the blighting study and redevelopment plan for 212 South Grand, was introduced by Alderwoman Davis for a third and final reading. During her introduction of the bill, Davis stated that this was a simple bill. However, the media "had taken something and turned it into story that is not true". Davis continued that "the media had gone out of its way to confuse people that a demolition bill is to be passed here". Davis summed up by stipulating that the Board of Alderman do not handle building permits and Board Bill 118 was only for tax abatement.
After the bill was introduced, President of the Board, Lewis Reed, opened the floor to comments and questions. Alderman Vaccaro of the 23rd Ward rose and related why he was opposed to this bill. Vaccaro believes such blighting studies and redevelopment plans are helpful to the improvement of St. Louis. However, he would not support the bill due to the amount of e-mails and phone calls he received in opposition to the bill. Vaccaro conveyed that, "As an elected official, I must listen to my constituents and I cannot support this bill". The 24th Alderman, Scott Olgilvie, approached the microphone and stated his opposition to the bill. Ogilvie expressed his appreciation for the amendment stipulating review by the Cultural Resource Office if an application for a demolition permit was made concerning 212 South Grand. He continued that over the eight days of consideration since the 2nd reading that he would oppose this bill. Ogilvie believed that developer had abused federal and state tax credits. Yackey, the developer, placed Council Plaza on the National Register, including 212 South Grand, in order to get the combined credits. After benefiting to the tune of $27 million from tax credits the developer decided to find one of the contributing buildings blighted so he could get a tax abatement. Due to this reason and the opinion of the public, Olgilvie would vote no and implored his fellow aldermen to do the same.
Stephen Conway, Alderman for the 8th Ward, saw the benefits of Board Bill 118 and agreed with Alderwoman Davis on several points. Conway stated that "brick kissers" need to understand that all buildings can't be saved because it is not financially feasible. He also believed that the public and the Board of Aldermen cannot tell people what they can and cannot do to their private property. Nevertheless, Conway saw several of his constituents in Thursdays Post-Dispatch in photo accompanying an article about the Save Our Saucer Rally. For that reason, he would not support the bill.
After several comments and question concerning Board Bill 118, a roll call vote was taken. Those in opposition of Board Bill 118; Conway (8th Ward), Villa (11th Ward), Wessels (13th Ward), Howard (14th Ward), Florida (15th Ward), Baringer (16th Ward), Vaccaro (23rd Ward), Ogilvie (24th Ward), Cohn (25th Ward). Those in favor of the bill; Troupe (1st Ward), Flowers (2nd Ward), Bosley (3rd Ward), Ford-Griffin (5th Ward), Young (7th Ward), Ortmann (9th Ward), Arnowitz (12th Ward), Roddy (17th Ward), Kennedy (18th Ward), Davis (19th Ward), Schmid (20th Ward), Williamson (26th Ward), Carter (27th Ward), Krewson (28th Ward). Adlermen Moore, French and Boyd did not attend the meeting and Alderwoman Triplett and Alderman Vollmer left the chambers before voting. The resulting vote was 15-9 in favor of the bill.
This vote may be an upset to preservationist. However, your opposition was heard by your aldermen and swayed their vote. If the developer of the site decided to apply for an demolition permit (which he stated several times at last week's Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee that he would) the permit will likely be reviewed by the Cultural Resource Office and the St. Louis Preservation Board. The preservation board is appointed by the mayor. Contact the Mayor and the preservation board and let them know how you feel. Landmarks will keep you posted on if an application for a demolition permit of 212 South Grand will reviewed.