The future of the South Grand “Flying Saucer” is in Jeopardy
|The South Grand "Flying Saucer" at 212 S. Grand|
The Flying Saucer at 212 South Grand, currently home to Del Taco, was approved for demolition according to a plan created by the St. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) on Tuesday June 21, 2011. This modern concrete and steel marvel is an intricate piece of the larger nine acre Council Plaza puzzle. Placed of the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, the loss of this contributing building would jeopordize Council Plaza's designation as a district. This historic element of our collective built heritage must be saved.
The LRCA, consisting of a five member panel, was created in 1951 by several Missouri statutes with the goal of improving property values and fostering economic opportunies while improving the overall quality of urban life. To ensure these goals were met, the LRCA was given certain tools known as the Blighting Study and Redevelopment Plan. The LRCA can conduct several tests, including survey, appraisals and other investigation to deem a specified area as blighted and insanitary. A blighted area as defined by LCRA Law, Section 99.320 is
"an area which, by reason of the predominance of defective or inadequate street layout, insanitary or unsafe conditions, deterioration of site improvements, improper subdivision or obsolete platting or the existance of conditions which endanger life or property by fire and other causes, or any combination of such factors, retards the provision of housing accommodations or constitutes an economic or social liability or a menance to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare in its present condition or use".
Insanitary by the same statue,
"is an area in which there is a predominance of buildings and improvements which, by reason of dilapidation, deterioration, age or obsolescence, inadequate provision for ventilation, light, air sanitation or open spaces, high density of population by fire and other causes, or any combination of such factors, is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, juvenile delinquency and crime or consistutes an economic or social liability and is detrimental to the publich health, safety, morals or welfare".
The study executed by the St. Louis LRCA found at least one or more of the previously listed criterion at Del Taco to designate the building and area as blighted and insanitary. However, Del Taco is maintained and houses a business that contributes economically to the surrounding community. The architectural character of the building is not affecting the quality of life. The struggles our city faces, which we are all aware of, play a greater role in the deterioration of public health, safety, morals and welfare of the city. Demolition of one building to be replaced by another will not fix the problems of St. Louis.
The National Register site was constructed between 1964 and 1968 by the Teamster Local 688 as a community development targeted to the elderly. The complex consists of four buildings composed of two residential towers, a commercial building and a gas station. Council Plaza's first tower, Council Tower West and the Teamsters Office was completed in 1966. The Phillips 66 gas station and garage, the current home of Del Taco, was constructed in 1967. The final tower, Council Tower East, was completed in 1968. The final building included a 250 bas relief sculpture designed in brick by artist Samuel Schultz and William Severson. The design concept of Council Plaza created by the firm of Schwarz and Van Hoefen fulfilled a critical need in the city's senior housing accommodations and resulted in a higher quality of independent living for the elderly. The complex contributed to the stablization of local public housing and the health and vitality of its residents and the surrounding area.
The "flying saucer" on South Grand must be retained as an intregral part of the significance of Council Plaza. Removing the present building for an unspecified building plan will not improve the economic standing nor minimize the social liability of the 19th Ward or the surrounding city. The final step of the LRCA process is approval by the Board of Alderman and the passage of an ordinace approving the redevelopment plan for Del Taco. Call your alderman and let him/her know your opinion! A list of all 28 wards and aldermen with their contact information can be found at the City of St. Louis' website.