For what reason, you ask? To provide the neighborhood with more green space.
The Cultural Resources Office Report recommends denial of the application to demolish the building at 4568 St. Ferdinand. Kate Shea says that the denial of the request comes in light of a National Register survey being conducted in the neighborhood that is expected to see a 2010 completion. Read the full report here.
The Ville has seen such rampant demolition as of late that it is a wonder anything is left. I'll bet that the National Register of Historic Places is considering booting the Ville Historic District due to too much sacrifice of contributing resources.
- Just a couple days ago, Ecology of Absence reported that a (perhaps very old) Ville frame house was demolished.
- Wagoner Place in the Ville was added to the National Register, but it may be too late. The stately buildings of the once impressive block are in near ruins.
- In October of 2007, three buildings on Annie Malone saw the wrecker thanks to 4th Ward Alderman Sam Moore. In the Ecology of Absence posting, Michael Allen notes that Moore was hostile towards the Preservation Board and vowed to continue to press for demolition of all derelict structures in the Ville.
- In September of 2007, three cast-iron storefronts on MLK met their demise.
- In July of 2007, Sam Moore pressed for the demolition of 39 Ville structures; 11 were approved in a contentious Preservation Board meeting.
- In October 2006, a Classical Revival row at the corner of Sarah and Cottage was demolished.
Those are merely the demolitions that Ecology of Absence has covered; there may be several more.
I wonder if Sam Moore understands that the Ville, the city's onetime premiere African American mecca, will never recover if the neighborhood sees much more of this so called "green space". The last time I checked, very few people seem to relate to a vacant lot on a city block as green space. Sam Moore should block this demolition outright. What are the chances of that, given the history above?
I didn't even include official green space, such as Tandy Park in the above all-too-easy photo showcase.
Moore's toll on the neighborhood has been devestating. Certainly, vacant structures can be a horrific nuisance. But the Alderman should be working with his constituents to develop a preservation strategy for the neighborhood, highlighting how a historic structure is an investment opportunity, housing a potential income-earning and tax-paying neighbor. But in St. Louis, voters reward the role of the watchdog alderman who does less to develop the neighborhood than to add another layer of policing and ordinance enforcement. See the South Side's Craig Schmid as another example.
Consider, though, the Ville's rich history as the locus of African American upward mobility, culture, and talent, along with its architectural acumen. The Ville is a special case and needs special leadership. It deserves better than this "green space". Unfortunately, it has an alderman more concerned with "Smart Shrink" Youngstown, Ohio-style than making the Ville a sustainable investment once again.
Part of such a strategy involves historic rehabilitation, creative financing, and forging a relationship with constituents that inspires hope for change and growth, not fear of vacant buildings and retrenchment.
And it's not just Moore. If St. Louis's structure of government did not allot so much power to alderpersons, we might see a more citywide vision for redeveloping distressed parts of north St. Louis. Instead, parochialism continues with free reign, further damaging neighborhoods already starved for resources.
The Ville's odds of recovery were already low. With Moore, it will be impossible. Alderman Moore should be recalled.