Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Summary of Decisions by the Preservation Board: January 7, 2008

| by Michael R. Allen, Former Assistant Director

January 11, 2008

At the January 7 special meeting of the Preservation Board of the city of St. Louis, the board granted preliminary approval to three new buildings in south city, denied demolition of a downtown building and again deferred a decision on a controversial appeal of a denied demolition permit in the Academy neighborhood.  The agenda is available online here.

Board members in attendance included Chairman Richard Callow and Members Mary Johnson, Mike Killeen, Alderman Terry Kennedy, Anthony Robinson and David Richardson.

On preliminary review, the board unanimously accepted staff recommendation to grant approval to new homes at 2909 Wisconsin and 1917 Senate in the Benton Park local historic district as well as a new office building at 1634 Park in Lafayette Square local historic district.

The Board considered a new application for demolition for a two-story commercial building located at 2217 Olive Street downtown, best known as the home of the Original Restaurant.  Previously, in September 2007, the Board unanimously upheld the Cultural Resources Office (CRO) denial of the owners’ demolition application.  This month, the applicant was the Building Division, citing parapet failure on the western wall as a dangerous condition requiring demolition.  CRO Director Kathleen Shea recommended approval of the demolition.  After Shea’s presentation, citizens Barbara Manzara and Claire Nowak-Boyd testified against granting the demolition permit.  Their testimony was followed by that of Landmarks’ Assistant Director Michael Allen.  Allen reminded the Board that the condition of the building had not changed since the unanimous denial, but that the building’s fortunes had grown due to the listing of the Olive and locust Historic Business District in the National Register of Historic Places in November 2007.  The building at 2217 Olive is a contributing resource in that district and is thus eligible for federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits.  In a surprising move, the board decided to unanimously deny the demolition permit.

Lastly, the Board considered its most controversial item: an appeal of CRO denial of demolition of a two-story commercial building located at 5286-98 Page Boulevard in the Academy neighborhood.  Built in 1905 and designed by George Kennerly, the building is the last visual anchor of the intersection of Page and Union and a landmark in the Mount Cabanne-Raymond Place National Register Historic District.  The owner is the Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church that occupies a historic church immediately south.  Two months ago, the church sent over 50 people to pack a Preservation Board meeting.  This month, only its attorneys showed up with a new rendering of a supposed educational building the church says will replace the historic building.  However, the church has not raised any money for construction of the new building.  Testifying against demolition were Lynn Josse, author of the historic district nomination (read her testimony here), Allen, Manzara, Nowak-Boyd and Douglas Duckworth (whose testimony appears here).  All defended the building as an important anchor and a building block of commercial development in the neighborhood.  The Board was divided between those who wanted to deny the appeal and those who wanted to defer a decision pending further neighborhood input.  By a vote of 3-2, the Board deferred a decision to its next regular meeting on January 24.