We've Moved

Ecology of Absence now resides at www.preservationresearch.com. Please change your links and feeds.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cut Off, Cut Down

Three weeks ago I wrote about the loss of a house at 2569 Montgomery Street in St. Louis Place (see "Cut Off", July 25, 2008). The house and the house next door were owned by companies tied to developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. and had suffered severe damage at the hands of criminals who steal brick. Now the house next door, at 2571 Montgomery Street, is gone. This photo dates to the demolition last week. Now this block is down to two remaining houses across the street from each other to the west. One of those houses is owned by a McKee holding company.

Preservation planning, anyone? It's much cleaner and safer than demolition through the urban warfare of brick theft.


Doug Duckworth said...

North St. Louis looks like Berlin Circa 1945 - (paraphrase) Lt. Governor Peter Kinder to the Post Dispatch

Due to McKee's dereliction and Room 200/230's deficiency!

Anonymous said...

The vacancy in N. City long precedes Paul McKee or any of the last five or six mayors.

Chris said...

That doesn't make the current administration any less responsible for the buildings that have been rustled/arsoned without punishment.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:43 is just another appeaser/apologist. Probably knows some of the parties involved or is present in the same or similar social circles. Typical "free-market", Chicago school/Milton Friedman accolyte/cultist.

Anonymous said...

Current administration of what? When you speak of brick rustling and arson, if you are referring to the Mayor's office, what are they supposed to do?

Please be specific. I am sure they would like some good ideas.

All over town, especially north, there are all sorts of demolition projects underway, with bricks being stacked on pallets.

Is the mayor supposed to go around checking whether these jobs are legit? Is the alderman? Is the cop on the street?

They all have more pressing concerns.

So who does that leave? The neighbors?

They're probably relieved that the vacant building is coming down.

So what about those good ideas to prevent brick theft to help solve the problem?

We're all listening.

Chris said...

More pressing concerns? Protecting firefighters' lives while battling blazes that are intentional is not that important? Please.

Anonymous said...

Firefighters are unlikely to be injured fighting a fire in a vacant building. Rescuing an occupant maybe. But not to save an abandoned building in a fire. Those fall more into the category of a "controlled burn".

What about suggestions on how to cut down on brick theft? Some people are critical of alderman "riding the ward", but that may indeed be one of the only ways.

Chris said...

Oh so you're a firefighting expert now?

Anonymous said...

I've seen lots of firefighting in process. Most of it is done from the outside on abandoned buildings. Why would they go in and risk injury? The owner's wrote the buildings off years ago.

We're getting off track. What are the ideas for preventing brick theft?

GMichaud said...

I hope anonymous doesn't mind me answering what the city should be doing.
First and foremost the city should make sure Paul McKee or any other holder of vacant property conform with all codes.
What we used to in the county when I was a member of the Top Ten Problem Property Task Force is literally take the individuals to court if that did not comply with reasonable building regulations and community standards. Even more important was that the Task Force consisted of various county offices such as public works, police, highway and various nonprofits community groups and concerned citizens. It was a truly democratic oversight of the community (St. Louis County runs at least three of these task forces, west, south and north) Meeting on a monthly basis problem properties were targeted, the top ten the focus, with others added through contact with the community.

That is the first thing, establish at a minimum a problem property unit to begin addressing solutions. It is the most important problem for St. Louis, not some meaningless exercise while we play footsie with Bill DeWitt and the Ballpark Village. (Look at the enormous amount of press and governmental time invested into Ballpark Village, but is Ballpark Village really more important than the whole North Side?)

A second idea is to develop a comprehensive plan for St. Louis, a new one stating public planning principles and including heavy public involvement, a plan that outside developers such as Paul McKee must conform to as well as developers of a single building.

There is a great deal that can be done. Much more indeed, there is much to discuss.