by Michael R. Allen
Vacant lot, major street, prominent corner…are there shades of the DeVille Motor Hotel issue at the southwest corner of 14th and Washington downtown? Yes, there are. This would have been the site of the SkyHouse, if the developers had closed on financing and built anything after they demolished the two buildings on this site.
In 2007, I wrote somewhat favorably of the SkyHouse project. Yet in retrospect I should have applied the precautionary principle. Two years later, Washington Avenue has a vacant corner where it previously had a corner-hugging building. While that building’s preservation value was debatable, its urban form was superior to a vacant lot.
The DeVille situation is different because the best case (a cleared lot) is the same as the SkyHouse worst case. St. Louis is worthy of a better case.