Last week we were given two unfortunate and stark examples of why St. Louis needs to rethink its policies on development and preservation, and why a general stabilization fund is both necessary and important. Within 24-hrs and a few city blocks, two historic structures came down. The first, which had been reduced to a mere facade after years of neglect and brick-theft, was finally fully-demolished last Thursday. Then, on Friday morning a vacant residential building around the corner burned to the ground, once again neglect can be cited as the owner had failed to maintain the building for years.
The first building mentioned was the Winkelman House on St. Louis Ave. and the second was located at 1415 Benton in the Old North Neighborhood.
In both of these cases, the City could have cited the owner for neglect and required action be taken in order to maintain the building. Unfortunately, both of these buildings were allowed to crumble or burn. In fact, this was seemingly sanctioned by the City and the State. Indeed, these properties are owned by Paul McKee Jr. and are within the confines of the Northside Regeneration development project. McKee seems to have a strategy of clearing by neglect, allowing many properties (these are only the latest two examples) to crumble, rather than face opposition for a strategy of wholesale clearing by demolition.
There must be a better way for St. Louis to redevelop. Imagine if these buildings had been maintained, even in their vacant state they would stand to welcome back investment to their neighborhoods. It doesn’t require much investment to keep beauties like these standing; it’s far more costly in the long run to allow for such blatant disinvestment. Help BrickstarterSTL change the paradigm of development in St. Louis. We are currently in the process of stabilizing the building pictured below in conjunction with Old North Restoration Group. If you’d like to help us prevent more of the above from becoming reality, please click the picture below and save a brick from the landfill.