by Michael R. Allen
The Preservation Board of the City of St. Louis meets May 26 to consider several items. One item that jumps out to me on the agenda is a “request for reconsideration” of a demolition permit for the old Lutheran Altenheim Home in the Baden area of north city. The owners, multi-state residential-care operators Hillside Manor LLC, have already contracted with Spirtas for demolition and started removing interior items. In April, they appealed the permit denial of the staff of the Cultural Resources Office to the Preservation Board, which upheld the denial.
While Hillside Manor has no use for the old building, and it stands in an awkward spot between Hillside Manor and another residential care facility, they have yet to prove that they need to demolish the building, or that they have considered other uses of the building.
Thankfully their “request for reconsideration” goes to the Preservation Board and not to the Board of Alderman as legislation. However, the Preservation Board should refuse reconsideration. No doubt that Hillside Manor will be pushing some high number on rehab costs that would be a “financial hardship” under the Preservation Review Ordinance. If so, it’s hogwash — Hillside Manor has expanded into a large network of locations and does not seem to be short on money for expansion.
There still are uses for the old building, but they would require creative thinking. It might make a great apartment building if more parking could be created. (Has Hillside Manor considered allowing a developer to build a second level of parking over their existing lot?)