No Bad News from Monday’s Preservation Board Meeting
by Michael R. Allen
On Monday, the St. Louis Preservation Board meeting yielded no bad news:
Washington University withdrew from preliminary consideration plans to demolish a one-story commercial building at 622 N. Skinker in order to build parking for the “Corner Building” at Skinker and Delmar, which the university is rehabbing. The Board granted preliminary approval for a variance that allows for wind turbines to be built atop the Corner Building. The university is exploring other options for parking, including building a new multi-story building that would extend along Skinker from the corner building to Enright Avenue.
The board denied preliminary applications for demolition for houses at 1826 Warren Street in St. Louis Place and 5155 Cates Avenue in the Mount Cabanne-Raymond Place Historic District. Neither owner bothered to attend the meeting!
At the request of a representative of the New Life Evangelistic Center, the Board will defer consideration of an appeal of staff denial of a demolition permit for the house at 4722 Tennessee Avenue in Dutchtown. The matter will likely be placed on the January board agenda since the December meetings are traditionally short and free of review or appeal items.
The board approved on preliminary review a plan to demolish a two-story brick garage at 1106 Dolman Avenue in Lafayette Square. The garage has a split foundation and is beginning to collapse. Owner Mike Drinen plans to reconstruct the building, which likely dates to the 1920s.
The board voted to deny a permit to retain seven windows installed without a permit at 2003 Senate Street in Benton Park. The owner installed a total of 18 windows on the house between 2004 and 2008, and wrapped the sides with aluminum. In 2006, Benton Park became a local historic district and wrapping was prohibited by district standards. Although the seven windows are not exclusively on the front elevation and not all front windows are in the seven now denied, all denied windows were installed since the local district standards went into effect. The board’s vote is an endorsement of honoring local district standards, and sets a good precedent. Work at 2003 Senate had stopped for two years before the last seven windows went in. While the old work was legal, the new work was not. Some projects evolve for years or decades and the start date of local standards should be enforced, not the start date of slow-moving projects. Ambiguity there would undermine citizen efforts to establish local district standards.