by Michael R. Allen
The Preservation Board of the City of St. Louis was set to again consider demolition of the row of commercial buildings at 2612-30 Chouteau Avenue (southwest of the intersection with Jefferson Avenue) at its meeting on Monday. The item was pulled from the agenda and will not be considered this month, but will likely return next month — perhaps with more support than before.
The buildings are owned by Crown Mart, Inc., which purchased them to prevent a competitor from opening a gas station on the site. Crown Mart plans to demolish them and replace them with a vacant lot.
The chief sin of these buildings may be the layers of unattractive, unmaintained paint that owners have applied over the years. Underneath the paint is brick and, in the case of the building shown immediately above, cast iron and red sandstone. Few ho have seen the city’s renaissance in recent years could doubt the reuse potential peeking out from under the battleship gray and bright red.
The buildings have found supporters, too — and a spot on the region’s preservation watch list. After the Preservation Board unanimously denied demolition on preliminary review in April, the Landmarks Association of St. Louis placed the buildings on its Most Endangered Places list.