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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fate of Flounder House on Monday's Preservation Board Agenda

On Monday, the Preservation Board will determine the fate of this old city-owned flounder house at 2915 Minnesota Avenue in Tower Grove East. The 710-square-foot home lies outside of the boundaries of the Tower Grove Heights Historic District, making it ineligible for rehab tax credits without landmark designation. Clearly, the building is eligible in its own right -- there are fewer than 30 flounder houses left in the city, and the building type is indigenous. Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett (D-6th) is seeking demolition, while the Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association strongly opposes demolition. Triplett's application was deferred by the Board two months ago to provide the Cultural Resources Office (CRO) time to develop a pro forma showing that rehabilitation is feasible.

Working with developer Will Libermann, who recently rehabbed a flounder house at 3330 Missouri Avenue in Benton Park, CRO has arrived at an impressively economical budget; see its report here. Liebermann's plan would restore the derelict home to former beauty while creating badly-needed affordable fully-rehabbed, historically-sensitive housing. (His other flounder sold for $125,000.) With the neighborhood behind preservation, there should be a clear outcome but Triplett remains stridently in favor of demolition.

Should the Preservation Board approve demolition, there would be yet another decision creating a housing gap between upper-income residents who can afford fully-rehabbed historically-sensitive homes and lower-income residents who largely cannot. Here is the rare opportunity to cut against the gap. While the home is smaller than your average multi-family conversion, it is a great size for a single person or a childless couple.

The Preservation Board meets Monday, April 28 at 4:00 p.m. in the 12th floor conference room at 1015 Locust Street downtown. See the full agenda here.


Doug Duckworth said...

Perhaps Kacie wasn't the best choice for alderperson.

Anonymous said...

Why does she support demolition if the neighborhood group opposes it? There must be a reason.

Does she oppose spending funds to stabilize vacant buildings?

Are there no funds available to do so?

Bottom line, if the building is feasible for rehab, then why is it being ignored by the market?

Surely the people in TGE have been aware of it for a long time.

Nothing in these old neighborhoods exists in a vacuum, and certainly not an eyesore, abandoned building in need of rehab.

Why not expand the boundary of the historic district?

Signed, random thoughts of an anonymous poster.

Anonymous said...

The Tower Grove Heights district isn't expandable (its limits are the limits of the Tower Grove Heights subdivision), but most of Tower Grove East is eligible for the National Register. Designation of a new district would offer more bang for the buck than a single site nomination, would spread the benefit to other property owners (and the neighborhood at large), and wouldn't have to hold up the rehab process for this house.

Anonymous said...

^ God, that sounds like an interminably bureaucratic situation. How complicated/costly is it to get the threatened building ready for historic tax credits? The whole city is old; why not just make it all an historic district?

Doug Duckworth said...

The $100,000,000 tax credit for McKee would be better allocated for such an endeavor. The State of Missouri could have allocated money to pay for surveys.

Anonymous said...

"could have, could have , could have..."

Who can do?

Anonymous said...

Triplett wants it down because she's an old-school "constituent service" alderman. Someone asked for it down, and she instantly applied for a demo permit. She's not that visionary. She could have went straight to a developer like Liebermann upon taking office, but she waited for a voter to make a demand. She'd rather have one sure vote than a cool project.

Doug Duckworth said...

Constituent service, in this case, would be rehabilitation. The neighborhood wants it saved. There should be no dispute involved.

Anonymous said...

How does an alderman rehab a building? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

So, what happened yesterday?

Anonymous said...

Alderman don't rehab buildings, homebuyers and developers do.

Aldermen HELP.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes aldermen don't help. Sometimes, as in this case, they refuse to help.

This demolition review came as a total surprise to the neighborhood association. The alderwoman never sought the advice or input of the TGENA. For better or worse (sometimes worse, usually better), when we were all in Ken Ortmann's ward he always sided with the neighborhood group on development issues.

As the alderwoman is well aware, the neighborhood is working on a redevelopment plan for this area which specifically calls for the rehabilitation of this house. Maybe that's why she asked for demolition review now - to get the house down before the neighbors could officially call for its preservation.

Anonymous said...

If anyone was the meeting, it was very clear that the neighborhood residents living on this street did not want this building rehabbed...they were asking for demolition. A petition of signatures, about 20 residents who live on the block, was presented asking for demolition.

Alderman Triplett certainly did ask for neighborhood input. Everyone on the block received information about the meeting and an opportunity to voice their opinion. She didn't want demolition, but saw this as the only choice due to lack of funding available for developers and the constant neighborhood complaints about this vacant house sitting there for 7 years.