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Friday, August 15, 2008

Remuddled Row in JeffVanderLou

Continuing to explore storefront additions to houses in St. Louis, I came across these three buildings at 1399-53 Garrison Avenue in JeffVanderLou. While the storefront additions add character, I'm not sure that's good character. Then again, these old houses have been remuddled past the point of recognition, and far beyond being able to contribute to any historic district. We have original dormers and cornices removed, mansard roofs clad in weatherboard (although apparently over the slate tiles!), window openings altered and a whole front stone elevation relaid in concrete block.

What a mess! No doubt the buildings are still sturdy and salvageable, but historic restoration would be challenging. Not impossible, but challenging. Who is up to that challenge? And what other ways of rehabilitating the buildings beyond a historic-tax-credit rehab exist?

6 comments:

Tyson Blanquart said...

I swear, as soon as I win the lottery, I'm going to go on a rehab spree across the city.

Anonymous said...

Some good old fashioned sweat equity always works.

In South St. Louis, Bosnians are rescuing dilapidated rental buildings by performing rehab as a family business.

They pay cash. They perform their own labor. They use scrap materials. They own the finished product with little or no debt.

The end results may not compare to genuine historic rehab, but they're a far sight better than the slow march to demolition, which appears to be the route the buildings in your post are headed.

Chris said...

I think the Bevo neighborhood never got to the level of disinvestment that JeffVanderLou has. It's hard work, but doable to fix up a house that is already liveable, such as most of the houses in Bevo were. The houses in the photos are going to need a lot more than sweat equity; they need real investment dollars.

GMichaud said...

An aspect of the historic value of these houses lies in the grouping of the buildings with their added commercial storefronts to what were clearly residential structures.
These buildings represent a free wheeling sort of capitalism and zoning that is in stark contrast to todays, controlling, elitist formation of commercial property. In other words todays zoning is designed to channel wealth into a few hands. (Chain stores anyone?)
I have long felt there should be free zoning in most parts, if not all, of the city. The city was an economic engine, in part due to this free zoning. Soulard was a commercial district as much as a residential area.
There are plenty of Mansards and Dormers to go around, but group configurations illustrating the convertibility of zoning in the old city are much rarer.

samizdat said...

Whoo, talk about Hoosier Contracting, Inc! Those are some of the worst alterations I've seen to date. Step away from the hammer and the trowel, sir!

Anonymous said...

Chris-

You need to take a no BS tour of some southside buildings.

The rental properties can go downhill fast, especially once they're vacant.

Check out the boarded up 12 (or so) unit building on the SW corner of Lawn and Chippewa.

It's too small for a LIHTC deal. There are no historic credits available. It won't support the cost of rehab by union scale, private contractors.

Yeah, it needs real investment dollars, but the rents won't support the cash outlay. That's the harsh reality of doing rental projects. St. Louis is a low rent, high rehab cost market.

Bring on the sweat equity rehabbers, or kiss another terra cotta and brick beauty goodbye.

STL city is full of them. Way more than any high finance program can support.