by Michael R. Allen
The two buildings at 3924 and 3928 South Broadway may look like a contrasting pair. One makes a robust display of unpainted, unaltered brick work that includes many patterns. The other building’s front wall is covered in metal paneling, and its side elevation is caked in old paint. Separated by Alberta Avenue, these two buildings were the long-time home of St. Louis Carnival Supply.
Now, these corner anchors sit vacant. This summer, the present owner, KOBA LP, tried to persuade the city’s Preservation Board to permit demolition of both buildings so that the owner could expand the parking lot of an adjacent strip mall where a Grace Hill clinic is located. In August, the Preservation Board voted to deny both demolitions on a preliminary basis. Now, KOBA LP returns with a proposal to demolish the metal-clad building and retain the other.
The city’s Cultural Resources Office (CRO) does not accept the compromise. In a report to the Preservation Board for the Monday, December 21 meeting, the CRO recommends denial of both permits. CRO maintains that the metal-clad building is likely intact under the siding and its appearance could be restored. Furthermore, loss of the building would alter the nearly-intact Alberta Avenue street scape.
CRO is right. The building at 3924 S. Broadway is obviously worth rehabilitation, and the owner’s earlier attempt to demolish it made no sense. However, the other building may be just as obvious a candidate for preservation once the metal siding is removed (an easy preliminary step). Perhaps KOBA LP will have evidence to dispel CRO’s recommendation, but without removing the siding any argument merely will be a good guess.
The Preservation Board meets Monday, December 21 at 4:00 p.m. in the 12th floor conference room at 1015 Locust Street downtown. Testimony may be submitted via e-mail to Adona Buford at BufordA@stlouiscity.com.