by Michael R. Allen
Built St. Louis literally reported a fire at a house at 2621 Sullivan Avenue in JeffVanderLou. The house is owned by a holding company controlled by developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. The fire struck on Friday evening, but by Saturday morning things were calm on this completely-vacant block. This is the last remaining building on either side of this block, and has been vacant since early 2008. Under a prior owner, the building was in pretty rough condition. the second floor was completely vacant, and only the west unit on the first floor was occupied. Late in the summer, there was fire that was confined to that last occupied unit.
The good news is that, despite two fires and neglectful ownership, the masonry building is still able to be salvaged. The brick walls are sound, and the fire damage has not led to any floor or roof collapses. While much of the floors and some of the joists need replacement, this building is not beyond repair. Swift board-up of all openings is in order.
Hopefully, the fire is not an indication of the return of the arsonist behind a May wave of fires in eastern JeffVanderLou and western St. Louis Place. Some will lay blame rhetorically for the fire on McKee’s ownership, but we all know that the real cause is a criminal person or persons deliberately setting fires. Law enforcement efforts are not aided by innuendo or sloganeering, but by solid information that will lead to arrest. (Efforts to involve residents in planning the future of these neighborhoods are not aided by careless innuendo, either.) As of yet, those behind the May arsons have not been charged, although many have been questioned. If you have any information, call the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.