The staff recommends that the Board approve the proposed demolition, pending:
1. a favorable recommendation by the MO SHPO [State Historic Preservation Office] for the Certification of the smaller Central West End District Extension, which excludes Washington Avenue.
2. Bowood Farms, Inc. should commit to the development of a Land Use Plan for its
land holdings and proposed site development with the City of St. Louis Planning and Urban Design Agency. In this way, the City and its Agencies could assist with potential Zoning, design review, and proposed demolition, among other considerations, so that the entire development can be managed appropriately from a land use aspect.
Check out the PDF of the CRO Agenda Item here. It includes a fuller comment by the CRO Staff as to why they made these recommendations. Click here to see my pictures of the property located at 4608 Washington.
I honestly don't understand these provisos. The first sends the message that the CRO agrees Washington Boulevard (4500 and 4600 blocks) is not worthy enough to join the Central West End Certified Local Historic District. Why didn't the CRO state it thus: "approval only if the Missouri SHPO rejects staff recommendation that Washington Boulevard be added to the CWE Local Historic District..." Does that sound too punitive towards the applicant? Maybe.
The second one is much less sensible to me. Who cares if Bowood develops a land use plan for their holdings if they set this terrible precedent to begin with? You can't recommend a good plan after approving a bad planning course, in my opinion. Demolishing a sound, attractive structure a stone's throw from new investment (a couple new homes have gone up nearby, which you'll see when you read the PDF) is a bad plan, especially when the replacement is an open storage lot. Opportunities for this open storage lot exist all around the site. The PDF includes a map of Bowood Farms' land holdings all around its business. The CRO acknowledges that other lots exist for this development.
While both conditions would be hard to meet, and their imposition almost seems like a roundabout way of saying "no" to the demolition, it still appears to me to set the stage for the Preservation Board to simply approve the demo minus the recommendations set forth by the CRO staff during the meeting tomorrow afternoon.
I hope I am wrong. Thanks to Bowood Farms, in large part, this block could be a real catalyst to connecting the disparate and disconnected revitalized "zones" of St. Louis's central corridor: Downtown, Midtown, and the Central West End (including Gaslight Square). A demolition will not serve this purpose.