Preservation Board Agenda

What's happening in our built environment.
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While the spirit of the Preservation Ordinance is good, the fact that it can be violated with impunity by those charged with enforcing it means that it can be used by well-connected individuals, neighborhoods, aldermen and board commissioners with political agendas, etc. to negotiate quid pro quo deals through selective enforcement. In other words, it is a law that is enforced against some and ignored for others. If you put the wrong windows in your house, god help you, but if you want to demolish tens of thousands of square feet of High Merit historic buildings just because you might (maybe, possibly, probably) want to do something with the space some day, just call up your alderman or a commissioner and work out a deal.
^ exactly.
Walkability has more to do with the availability of goods and services within a reasonable walking distance than it does the architecture of an individual site. The proposed plan is substantially more walkable than the existing vacant buildings. Even if the historic buildings were occupied, I am certain the daycare center would generate multiple times more walking trips to the site.

Stakeholders refers to the neighborhood and alderman not the review board. I suspect they are happy to see a new daycare facility coming to the neighborhood, and replacing an vacant Taco Bell and vacant buildings.

Could it be better designed, probably. Could more have been done to force the issue, probably. But my point is that in the end this is a positive for the neighborhood. We need to remember that urbanism is more than historic preservation and design.
okay, i agree about the walkability, though not that the historic buildings would generate less foot traffic than the daycare even if occupied. obviously it depends on what/who occupies them and how they are used/reused. and i'm not convinced that a daycare next to two highways is going to attract much intra-neighborhood foot traffic in a city with a dwindling child population. sadly, the possibility of integrating some or all of the historic buildings into the design apparently wasn't even considered. the part at the corner of ann and jefferson, for example, appears to be just an entrance/welcoming area, so the corner building at least could have been re-purposed. yes, the new daycare will bring some sort of activity to a dead block, but it could have done the same while preserving at least some of the existing buildings. the end result may be positive for fox park in this instance (and certainly positive for P&G b/c now they don't have to spend money on maintenance and can more easily sell off the land a make a bunch of bank). meanwhile, between this and the P&G ruling, a dangerous precedent has been set which basically allows them to make up whatever reasons they want to tear stuff down for their buddies. that's not such a great end result. i mean, read the meeting agenda and count the contradictions in their "reasoning".
The reality is always that decisions are up to people, not written regulations. I think this is how it should be. The city is a human endeavor - what would have happened if more than two people showed up to testify against demolition? What if St. Louis had a more robust conservation movement/group? It's easy, and sometimes right, to complain after the fact. However, if we want things to change, we must work today for a better result tomorrow - not complain tomorrow about a bad result today.
Alex Ihnen wrote:
The reality is always that decisions are up to people, not written regulations. I think this is how it should be. The city is a human endeavor - what would have happened if more than two people showed up to testify against demolition? What if St. Louis had a more robust conservation movement/group? It's easy, and sometimes right, to complain after the fact. However, if we want things to change, we must work today for a better result tomorrow - not complain tomorrow about a bad result today.



I do not disagree, but we do have to take the first step of acknowledging the problem and making it known to others. While I had always assumed our PB was lacking in the backbone department, I had not known it was this bad. I bet others who care and don't realize what is happening, would join the efforts so we can keep the bad result from happening today. (Maybe I am being too optimistic?)
Alex Ihnen wrote:
The city is a human endeavor - what would have happened if more than two people showed up to testify against demolition?


i also don't disagree, but if the San Luis is any indication of how the board considers public testimony at the meetings, i think the result would have been the same in this case. public input at the board meetings seems to be nothing more than formality. this is a sincere question b/c i don't know, but can anyone recall an instance where public testimony actually influenced the board's decision? is there any way to gauge this?
There certainly have been. Michael Allen and others who regularly attend the meetings would know.

Also, and someone correct me if I'm entirely wrong, but the effort to save the San Luis got underway far along in the process. A group had to be formed and quickly incorporated, etc. That's not the ideal way, and ultimately not a successful way, to approach this issue.
^The actual incorporated Friends of the San Luis, Inc. got involved far along in the process, but the people behind that group used that name and were involved from the moment word got out about the demolition, over a year before demo was approved if I am recalling things correctly. It definitely wasn't ideal, and only marginally successful, but it wasn't last minute.

But that brings up another interesting case of not even enforcing standards. The Pres Board didn't force the Archdiocese to hold to their original plans for a "green" parking lot with on site underground storm water storage. All we got was a parking lot that violated the local ordinance with the only "green" features being a little extra landscaping. I'm still pissed about the San Luis.
^^ and regardless of when the "effort" got underway, the part where public testimony was supposed to be officially recognized was a sham. many people including professionals turned out at the board meeting to advocate for the San Luis and their testimonies were summarily dismissed by half the board members (i don't recall the breakdown but probably the usual suspects). they didn't even sleep on it. they had already made up their minds to give the archdiocese whatever it wanted. my point being, many people could spend a great deal of time constructing an incontrovertible argument and present it at the board meeting and it still wouldn't (didn't) matter. the official channel for public input on these matters is a pretense (tentatively... i'll email Michael Allen and see what he says.)
^ Is Michael the final arbiter? :)
^ um... you're the one who suggested he might be able to answer my question. by all means give me some other names and i'll contact them too.
^ It was just a joke. Anyway, Michael, of course, is a great resource. He can likely connect you with others as well.
whoa! you responded before i even posted! you're magic! :D
You don't get to be Super Moderator if you ain't got the goods. 8)
Another group that is always at the Board meetings is Landmarks Association, so their representatives could probably also shed more light on this pattern in addition to Michael and some other folks whose names I don't know, but who seem to be there when I have gone. The way I see it is that some of the Board members clearly have their minds made up before they enter the room, and some of them can be swayed by argument. Some of them don't read the agenda before they come, some do. Some of them are professional, some of them eat chocolate donuts while they "listen" to testimony. What does seem to be the case almost every time I have been there is that things appear rigged. Whenever something controversial is going down, many members don't show up, and the quorum that does arrive appears to be fixed so that the people who actually will use their brains and behave ethically are balanced exactly by henchmen who will do what they are told.

This is done, I believe, on purpose to give Mr. Callow the tie-breaking vote. Callow works for the Mayor's office and supports whatever decision he is told to support-- can't fault him for that. Also, he is cagey, intelligent, coated in teflon, and knows very well that he and the Board are an artifice. He knows that the sole purpose of the Board is to convene. After that, nothing matters. As long as they convene, there is the appearance of due process and all is right with the world. Beyond convening, they are completely free to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner because there is absolutely no recourse or accountability. Because the proceedings are so pointless, sometimes he seems to amuse himself by deliberately making people squirm on the line until finally, he slowly raises his arm, turns his wrist, and snaps his thumb up or down like a Roman emperor at a gladiatorial contest. I honestly think that anyone who gets called before the Board would do themselves a favor by opening their testimony with "Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant." Bottom line, unless change happens, which would have to come through the BOA, the Preservation Board is a complete waste of everybody's time (including the Board members).
^^ he's like a regular moderator but he's at least six inches taller and has a flying motorcycle and a jar of marmalade that forces you to commit adultery. :D
^You should see the perks you get when you have the administrator title under your name.
tge-atw wrote:
...sometimes he seems to amuse himself by deliberately making people squirm on the line until finally, he slowly raises his arm, turns his wrist, and snaps his thumb up or down like a Roman emperor at a gladiatorial contest. I honestly think that anyone who gets called before the Board would do themselves a favor by opening their testimony with "Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant."


Now that's funny. So where's the guy with spqr in his screen name to provide an appropriate add-on? :)
After being surprised by the last demo on Delmar, I thought I would look out for the Preservation Board agenda and post it here monthly. If nothing else than to remind myself.
The next meeting is monday 1/28 (tomorrow). Here is the link to the full agenda with pictures of the properties in question:
http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/depart ... y-2013.cfm
Apart from awnings, signage and a fence, there will be an appeal for a previously denied demolition request for a house at 2746 Utah that has partially been damaged by fire (to create a community garden :roll: )
Good idea. We're early in redesigning the website, but I'd like to find a place on the homepage to post notices, city meeting agendas etc.
Thanks, Imran!
2746 Utah has severe settling problems due to subsidence of a former limestone quarry beneath. The fire damage is the least of its problems, likely. I am not stating that the building cannot be saved, but that preservation might actually cost beyond likely value even with historic tax credits in play. It's a huge challenge, and one not solved by Preservation Board action one way or the other.
Feb meeting is on monday the 25th (handy link on the home page, thankyou Mr Ihnen)

So far nothing earth-shattering (literally) on the preliminary agenda.
No demolitions :D . Just windows, fences, decks and solar panel policy
Will keep an eye on the final agenda.
The next Preservation Board meeting is on March 25

Unfortunately the agenda contains demo requests for two very significant buildings by BJC.

4966 Parkview place
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and (now altered) 216 S Kwy
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Many on this forum don't seem to care since we are going to get modern generic glass boxes in the place of these handcrafted buildings but I feel this will be the most sizable loss of history in the CWE since the San Luis. BJC has the resources to build around them or incorporate them into a unique product but they will not do it unless residents speak up.