by Michael R. Allen
In August 2006, the St. Louis Preservation Board approved demolition of the former YMCA building at 2232 S. Grand Avenue (built in 1936 and designed by Study & Farrar). Yet in March 2010, the building stands alive and well. This recession has led some owners to preservation by default as financing for new commercial construction is difficult to obtain. Meanwhile, the consistency of historic tax credits and the state and federal level provide a reliable financing component. The YMCA building is a contributing resource to the Compton Hill Historic District.
Perhaps the current owner of the YMCA will rethink the past plan to demolish the building and construct a new three-story mixed-use building in its place. The owner is trying to develop a large area that includes a significant parking lot and the old Pelican’s restaurant building at Shenandoah and Grand. There certainly is ample room in this larger site for a smaller new building, parking and retention of both historic buildings. Advocacy failed to save the YMCA in 2006, but economy may do the trick. We’ll see.