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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Preservation Board Approves Flounder House Demolition, Denies Demolition in The Ville

Here's a quick report of some actions at yesterday's St. Louis Preservation Board meeting.

2915 Minnesota Avenue: Preliminary approval for demolition of flounder house granted 4-2. Terry Kennedy, Mary Johnson, David Richardson and Anthony Robinson in favor; Melanie Fathman and Mike Killeen opposed.

4477 Olive Street: Unanimously deferred until the July meeting to provide more time to explore alternatives.

4568 St. Ferdinand Avenue: Demolition permit denied. Killeen, Fathman, Robinson and Richard Callow in favor of motion to deny; Johnson, Kennedy and Richardson opposed.


Anonymous said...

It looks like David Richardson is turning into a pro-demo guy. I thought his cred was as historic tax credit guru. Why is he siding with the pro-demo forces?

Doug Duckworth said...

Perhaps demolition, for aldermen, is like what guns are for most Americans: an aphrodisiac. Just say the word and they get a stiffy.

Did residents testify for preservation of the flounder house?

Matt M. said...


Terry and Mary, the demolition duo, continue their reign of terror. Both seem invested in a broken St. Louis. It makes sense that they want to erode it further. It seems to be the only thing they know how to do.

I have emailed Terry so many times he probably won't reply this time.

Anyone have any suggestions for what a bleeding heart preservationist living in New Orleans could do to combat these types of actions?

Anonymous said...

I find it most interesting that Callow never votes unless forced to by a tie. I looked in the code and it doesn't say anything about the chair only voting if a tie

Anonymous said...

Kennedy is openly hostile to preservation. A few years ago he supported a mass-demolition, classic urban renewal style "redevelopment plan" in his ward. Scores of brick and stone buildings, some decrepit, others in solid shape, would have been erased so Ranken could build new vinyl-sided wonders. I don't think the plan ever went anywhere. Still, the point is that unlike Alderwoman Starr Triplett, (and lots of other people) he is not merely indifferent to historic preservation; he is philosophically opposed to it. He is not shy about explaining his position.

Chris said...

Wait, don't you guys realize that the secret to reviving St. Louis is to make it just like the suburbs? Flounder houses get in the way--they're so blue collar.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:19 AM, if you've heard Kennedy's position re. preservation vs. demolition, please summarize it for us.

Does it boil down to costs? Or is it more linked to the long history of poor neighborhoods facing derelict buildings and wanting something new?

Doug Duckworth said...

I believe it's more based upon ideas of white elitism. However, myself, for one, doesn't view preservation as a medium for gentrification. Preservation is a way to bring back the Black Middle Class which fled many North St. Louis neighborhoods.

I don't see why middle class African Americans would come back here when they can get vinyl siding in St. Charles and North County. Realistically many suburbs have superior public services, therefore we must have a comparative advantage over them which would provide an incentive for residents to move here. If we have similar houses, and worse services, what's the incentive?

Some residents might support the demolition of a building which has been vacant for decades because it's been a public safety hazard, and eyesore, for that long. They might be skeptical as to whether the building will be put into reuse, and also distrustful of the whites who are saying it can be rehabbed.

But I think we need to realize that wholescale demolition of historic properties, like what McKee's doing, is only the continuation of Team Four, and the idea of spatial deconcentration. The policies which destroyed the Black Community, instituted by the federal and local government, are coming full circle. Local officials must resist not only because our comparative advantage is lost, but because they're being complicit in this nefarious, racist agenda.

Yet with the Flounder Home this really doesn't apply. It's ironic when Mary One attacks preservationists as "going against the will of the neighborhood," when in fact she did the exact same thing by voting for demolition.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:09:

I have had extensive and official conversations in the past with Alderman Kennedy about redevelopment in his ward. As a personal observation, I find him to be an embittered and antagonistic individual. I think a basic animosity toward white people finds expression in his dismissal of historic preservation as reflecting white values and a defense of white culture. I think he regards the history of St. Louis as a single, prolonged racist atrocity. Preserving relics of that past is inimical to those feelings and his perspective on the local culture, however warped, wrong headed and divisive they may be.

Anonymous said...

I believe it's more based upon ideas of white elitism.

If you believe this then you definitely don't know Terry Kennedy.

He is the last person in St. Louis who would do anything to further white elitism.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why middle class African Americans would come back here when they can get vinyl siding in St. Charles and North County....

If we have similar houses, and worse services, what's the incentive?

Wrong again.

Many of the buyers - most probably - of the vinyl sided, suburban styled housing being built in the city - and derided by (mostly white) urbanists - are indeed middle class African American households.

Indeed, they want to live in the city, often in the same neighborhood where they or their parents grew up, but they want to live there in a new, suburban styled house, even with an attached garage.

Maybe the elitist racist is the white urbanist forcing his/her values on middle class African Americans?

Or maybe it's a silly exercise trying to categorize people's housing choices based on their racial background? Let's hope so.

Doug Duckworth said...

Anon, I am saying that Terry perhaps views preservation as white elitism as well as the white hegemony telling Black North St. Louisans how to run their own turf.

Perhaps some middle class African Americans bought vinyl homes because areas like Wagoner Place lie derelict? If leadership made rehabilitation a priority then the market would follow.

Given our penchant for demolition, while plethora of suburban homes, where else would they live but suburban homes?

Your argument has no merit because the consumer has limited choices. The individual, when given the choice of Mary One's new home, or the new ones in Cabanne, compared to a wonderful yet bombed out building in Wagoner, will chose the former. It's not an equal comparison as the latter is not given equal exposure to the public or support from officials.

I hold that middle class African Americans would move back at a much higher rate with new urban infill and rehabilitation, along with leadership promoting such design. We lack all three criteria.

This is not a forcing of views, but an attempt to convince individuals the merits of preservation and the hedonism of unwarranted demolition or place erasing.

Anonymous said...

A developer just rehabbed two homes for sale on Dick Gregory Place but they didn't sell so he had to rent them out.

The same thing is happening in other neighborhoods. The market sucks right now.