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Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Rehab Girls" Seek Soulard Demolition

The most troubling item on the October 26 agenda for the St. Louis Preservation Board is the only actual demolition permit on the agenda, for a house at 1927-9 S. 10th Street in Soulard. While any demolition permit for a perfectly sound historic building is troubling, this one is egregious. For one thing, the two-and-a-half brick house is located in a dense and stable part of one of the city's most dense and stable historic districts. For another, the house at 1927-9 S. 10th Street is one of the number of remaining St. Louis buildings that appear in the pages of Pictorial St. Louis, the 1875 atlas by Richard Compton and Camille Dry. The simple brick dentils on the cornice indicate an age even earlier than the atlas -- perhaps in the 1850s or 1860s, before wooden cornices began appearing on modest housing like this. Such buildings are rare enough that the Preservation Board should never permit their demolition.

What this writer knows about the back story here provides little clue as to why the owner, Rehab Girls LLC, is pushing demolition. In its fictitious registration of the name Rehab Girls, Rehab Girls LLC -- registered through a third-party registrar -- reported that Peggy Sheffold is Vice President and that the company office is the same as Rothschild Development Ltd., Sheffold's employer. Rothschild owns a lot of Soulard property, including a corner mixed-use building directly north of this house.

Rehab Girls LLC purchased the house on South 10th for $50,000 on December 19, 2006. Recently, the house was listed for sale by Red Brick Management, a Rothschild company, with a $136,000 asking price. Since the purchase, there are no recorded building permits despite a full recent reconstruction of the cornice.

The work performed on the cornice indicates that the building's brick work is fully repairable. Why Rehab Girls aborted the work and decided to pursue demolition is unfathomable. Soulard is a neighborhood that long has moved past dark days of demolition and on to significant infill construction. The "Rehab Girls" should stick to their name or sell this fine building. Meanwhile, the Preservation Board should deny the demolition request.

The Preservation Board meets at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 26 in the offices of the St. Louis Development Corporation, 1015 Locust Street, 12th floor.

However, citizens need not be present to submit written testimony. Testimony can be sent to the board via its secretary, Adona Buford, at BufordA@stlouiscity.com or care of the Cultural Resources Office, 1015 Locust Street, Suite 1200, St. Louis MO 63101.


Chris said...

Rothschild wants parking for his mixed-use building, I suspect.

Anonymous said...

Actually, after attempting to stabalize the building, Structural engineers and contractors, as well as the masonry contractor all came to the conclusion that the masonry was too deteriorated to be saved. Rothschild Development is not, nor has it ever been, in the business of demolishing buildings. To assume such is a slap in the face to a developer who has dedicated his entire career to rebuilding St. Louis and preserving its historic structures. Unfortunately, the building is a public safety hazard and needs to come down. This is a much better justification for demolition than that of the San Louis Apartments or the Century Building.

Michael R. Allen said...

Rothschild Development has an excellent record on preservation, which makes this instance difficult to understand. While perhaps the rehabilitation is not feasible in this market, it might work out in the future. Buildings from the 1850s may have soft brick but preservation is not impossible; some cities have more brick buildings from that period and earlier that have been retained despite deteriorated masonry.

I reject the notion that the building is a hazard and must be demolished. So do Alderwoman Phyllis Young, the professional staff of the Cultural Resources Office, members of the city's Preservation Board and many Soulard residents.