The Real Cost of Demolishing Cupples 7

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Today the St. Louis Beacon published a commentary by Preservation Research Office Director Michael Allen entitled “The Real Cost of Demolishing Cupples 7″. The article raises several questions, including:

Why can’t the city offer a comparable amount to the demolition funds in escrow for stabilization? The Building Division can’t come in and work on a building not owned by the city, but St. Louis Development Corporation could structure a deal where some money from another sources was available.

At a time when Great Rivers Greenway District has had to go to voters for a sales tax increase, why does the city need more publicly owned green space to maintain? South downtown has more holes than buildings, and does not need another empty space. The walk to Busch Stadium should be activated with retail and activity, not fenced grass.

With Cupples 7, the city is looking at spending almost $2 million in tax dollars to create a fenced lawn where a historic building once stood and remove a property from the tax roles. The venerable warehouse might not be the biggest loss — city government’s ability to protect economic assets and sense of place hang in the balance.

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  • abernajb

    How much would stabilization cost? I know the City can attempt to collect against an owner for demo, can they do that for stabilization?

  • samizdat

    $2 Million for green space? Oh, my, dog, City Hall is full of more idiots than I thought possible.

  • laldm109

    $2 million should be enough for a roof and some plexiglass for the openings. In fact, they could do that for $1 million and put the other million in an account to give the future developer who has the vision to reuse this building a head start… if only there was the will to use common sense…

  • GMichaud

    If a roof and plexiglass were enough you may be right. Once the brickwork sits exposed and unattended it becomes part of the concern. I’m not saying this building couldn’t be stabilized for a reasonable price I just don’t know without going into it and looking at it closely.

    A major failure of the preservation community has been the neglect of the fabric of the city at large. Cupples 7, Soulard or Lafayette Square are only pieces of a larger city. I certainly feel as if the general planning of the old city with its emphasis on transit, walkability and connections is what is needed today.

    The failure of Cupples is a failure to demonstrate its importance in a strategy that has different values than the auto driven environment of the recent past.

    Good density that supports pedestrian traffic is another value this site potentially encourages. If the building is torn down the alternate solution will be parking, ha ha more parking, more god damn parking.

    Actually the failure of a building so close to downtown and the stadium and unable to achieve success is only another example of the failed, impotent capitalism that is practiced in America today.
    Maybe McGowan is nothing more than a front for the suburbanization of the city.Certainly his capitalist credentials are lacking. But the failure of a capitalist wiz to buy him out at this location is a larger indictment of what is really happening.
    A major problem, central to what happens is the concurrent failure of the St. Louis City government to oversee this process. Really it should be city government making the process work. Making sure the future of the city is secure.

    It is not only the building that should be preserved, but also older city plans, plans from times when the city was flourishing. Where is the new thinking of a capitalist society concerning this building? There is none I can see.
    Of course no doubt the site will eventually been handed over to a favored developer.

  • GMichaud

    Wah, Wah, Cupples 7 is going to be torn down, I wonder why? It has nothing to do with its structural condition.

    To clarify the Cupples 7 certainly has value as a building, but it also represents to the community a style of city planning that is hard to find in the auto centric environment of carbon dioxide choking. Buildings like the Pevely Buiilding are also in this category.

    They are good, if not great examples of architecture, but a major part of their value is their connection to the surrounding city.

    It is a flaw that these buildings represent nothing more than a style or history. In fact architectural considerations are not central to the argument for making sure they survive.

    Or, I hate to ask the question, what is the ultimate idea of this area of town? Is it parking lot after parking lot? A serious problem is the way government has worked so hard to exclude small scale business people. We have ballpark village with profits directed at a few corporate insiders as a good example.

    Of course with little or no competition from Cupples 7 or other development it only insures the greasing of a few pockets.

    No one should forget that the dismal state of city planning is any more than favors for the favorites.

    What is most humorous is that the big spenders are only killing their profits in the end by making sure noting escapes their grasp.

    And certainly no one needs any more proof St. Louis is dying because of the favoritism. The status of region more or less sucks because you have a few insiders making sure every deal falls their way.

    It is not the way to build cities or regions. Even blogs like this are timid when criticizing their buddies in power about how the region is built.

  • gmichaud

    I hope you don’t mind if I continue to debate myself, I always win those debates.

    The closing of the Macy’s downtown is a case in point. A dynamic city plan that connected, say, Cupples, the stadium, Ballpark Village with downtown makes sense and could be important, but you can see there is very little attention paid to the basic walkability of North South routes

    I want to add I have been in many cities where a walk of the distance to Downtown from Cupples would not be an unusual walk, the difference is that the walk artful and exciting.

    Not only that, these same cities have comprehensive and frequent transit for those not wishing to walk.

    In St. Louis if you had to go from Cupples to Macy’s you would drive.

    The role of Cupples in such a scheme or in other plans is not a complete answer, but it is significant enough that if such a plan was in place it would likely save Cupples.

  • eric

    Yes, city planning is huge. As you know, you can’t just open a Planet Hollywood, BPV, and call it a day. You have to think far into the future and invest (see the Loop).

    Cupples 7 should be saved and used. And hopefully some real city planning will come into effect (one that isn’t Cardinal-focused), and this building will be around to be part of it.