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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just Couldn't Make It

Until last month, this modest storefront building stood at the southeast corner of Delmar and Leffingwell avenues. According to city buildng permits, the building dates to 1881 and was originally four stories tall. Looking carefully at the building, I detected evidence of infill of the third floor sills and window openings just below the parapet wall, which lacks a creasing course. The shortened height and partly-filled windows are obvious, marring the buidling's appearance. Still, handsome details like the iron storefront and arched side windows remained evident.

Once part of a robust, dense urban neighborhood just north of Mill Creek Valley, the building and an alley house behind it fell into the hands of the city's Land Reutilization Authority. All of its neighbors were gone. Across Leffingwell stands a large housing project, while adjacent to the east is a lot owned by N & G Ventures LC, a holding company controlled by Paul McKee. South of here is the hulking campus of Wachovia Securities, formerly A.G. Edwards & Sons. Any semblance of the historic walking neighborhood in which this building played a commercial role was long gone. The city itself lost the mometum needed to keep even diminished buildings in use.

Befitting, the building's east wall partly collapsed in December. On February 6, the Building Division approved a demolition permit and wrecking commenced. The neighborhood could have used a corner anchor, even as one small representation of its old form. Yet the building just couldn't make it. Besides, would the time have ever come again for this lopped-off old buidling?


Doug Duckworth said...

I would love to do a report on the political culture of the "building division." Are they managing buildings? Building anything? Shouldn't their name be modified to the Demolition Authority? It would at least be less ironic and Orwellian.

Anonymous said...

The Building Division doesn't build anything, except if you count reviewing plans for city buildings.

The Building Division is responsible for maintaining public health and safety in our built environment.

The Delmar and Leffigwell building wasn't safe or healthy to the general public, so the Building Division ordered its demolition.

That's their job. Now, please don't start talking about LRA having the responsibility to maintain the thing. That's just crazy talk.

Anonymous said...

LRA buildings need specific incentives pointed at them for whomever will redevelop them. I realize they have no budget, but whats the R stand for again?

Anonymous said...

Reutilization doesn't necessarily mean rehab, and often doesn't. So?

Anonymous said...

Remember what the "L" stands for.

Anonymous said...

Let Rot

Anonymous said...

Land Repository for Aldermen?

Anonymous said...

Aldermen are held accountable for LRA property in their wards.

So it follows that they have major say over their reuse.

People focusing their city redevelopment priorities on LRA policy are missing the bigger picture.

Aldermen understand that LRA properties are one possible resource, while also a very real current liability.

How would anyone reading here like to bear ultimate responsibility over such difficult matters?

Kaylen said...

I just stumbled upon your site and I will be hanging out here quite a lot now. I'm from the Lou and I love it. Also, all of this stuff (demolishing amazing old buildings) makes me sad.

PS: I took pictures of this building for one of my film classes last year.

Amy F. said...

This building was one of the last historic buildings on its stretch of Delmar, which really needs help because it bears no resemblance to a neighborhood or a community at all despite having a fair amount of residential development. I'm not surprised that no one cared enough about this building to attempt to save it, but I will still miss seeing it, sad-looking through it was. For some reason, I really liked the bar b que sign on the front.

Given the building's location, I have to ask, did the wall really crumble, or did it get plowed into?