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Historic Preservation Preservation Board South St. Louis

Preservation Board Blocks NLEC Demolition Plan

by Michael R. Allen

Yesterday, the St. Louis Preservation Board unanimously upheld staff denial of a demolition permit for the house at 4722 Tennessee Avenue in Dutchtown. The New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) applied for a demolition permit in September, and the Cultural Resources Office denied the permit shortly afterward. NLEC appealed the denial to the board. At the November meeting of the Preservation Board, NLEC representative Jeff Schneider waved the right to a timely appeal in order to return with a stronger presentation.

Schneider failed to do so. Yesterday, he asked the board for yet another continuance despite the fact that several people, include Dutchtown South Community Corporation Executive Director Kelly Kress and myself, had already attended a meeting with prepared testimony against the appeal.

Schneider did bring engineer Michael Mahaney, who attempted to make the case that the building was structurally unsound although he has not yet been inside of the building or produced a detailed assessment.

Board member Mike Killeen made a motion to defer consideration for one month but withdrew the motion after both Cultural Resources Office Director Kathleen Shea and Board Chairman Richard Callow stated that board members, staff and citizens had as much a right to timely consideration of the appeal as the appellant. No one of the board disagreed with Shea’s assessment that the proposed demolition met none of the criteria for demolition established by the city’s preservation ordinance.

Alderwoman Dorothy Kirner spoke against the proposed demolition, and Kress and myself were recognized by the chairman but did not speak since the board’s stance was already clear. David Richardson moved to uphold staff denial, and the board unanimously supported that motion. The matter may be far from over, though.

Also yesterday the board unaimously approved National Register nominations for the Gill Buidling, Liggett & Myers Historic District, the Bel Air West Motel and the Grand-Bates Suburb Historic District. The board unanimously granted preliminary approval to plans to build a new house at 2308 S. 10th Street in the Soulard Historic District.

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