Bohemian Hill South St. Louis

Painted Brick Aside, Bohemian Hill Rehab is Good for the City

by Michael R. Allen

The building at 1717 S. Tucker Boulevard.

1. We don’t like to see anyone paint brick (paint traps moisture and leads to deterioration of the bricks and mortar).

2. We don’t like to see anyone demolishing historic houses on Bohemian Hill (which happened as recently as December).

3. We are pleasantly surprised that a Bohemian Hill house is being rehabilitated on the same street face that just lost a building.

4. Yet we are pretty sure that Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, a city agency, is on auto-pilot with its attempt to destroy the remaining historic buildings of Bohemian Hill.

5. We strongly doubt that clearance of Bohemian Hill will result in the creation of anything but low-wage jobs, or in sales tax revenues that are meaningful once the cost of tax increment financing and other incentives are deducted.

6. We know that the creation of rehabilitated and infill housing units on Bohemian Hill helps the city gain residents, increase property tax revenues and visually improve an area that connects downtown to the south side.

7. Therefore, we forgive the brick painting at 1717 S. Tucker.

2 replies on “Painted Brick Aside, Bohemian Hill Rehab is Good for the City”

Painted brick is also usually a sign that the “rehabber” (LOL!) is a skinflint flipper, using paint to conceal the fact that they’ve performed the most minimal of structural updates, such as repointing the brick, or dealing with large gaps in brick joints (Is that gap a sign of serious structural issues, or just the usual settling?) It’s pretty clear that this seems like a flip: replacement windows (with the added bonus of not special-ordering for the arched windows; though admittedly, they could have replaced replacement windows, pffft), serious roof and drainage issues, dormer gable-ends galv-steel needs attention. I am always suspicious when I don’t see the outside-in direction of rehabbing. Or see incomplete exterior restorations.

I’m with you; a rehab of some variety is always good, if it gets the building occupied. But if the decay isn’t stopped, or better yet, reversed, then what’s the point? I’ve made a point of directing my renovations toward preparing our house for the next century of its life (1912; same age as the Central). But then again, I have a slightly different viewpoint of “ownership”: We are caretakers, not owners. Seems like the only rational way to look at it, considering that nearly every square hectare in this country was stolen from the original inhabitants. (Don’t even get me started on the genocidal pogroms and mass murders which were “necessary” to taking possession of these lands). So, in essence, we are all in possession of stolen property, so how can we–from a moral and ethical standpoint–see ourselves as owners, whether we are merely residential owners, or corporate owners? I’ve observed that the concept of ownership–more often than not–appears to give the individual, or corporation, an outsized sense of entitlement, which frequently manifests itself in damaging or despoiling the property. Unfortunately, ownership is always impermanent, so it often comes to the next generation in a horrid state of repair. American society has a pathologically unhealthy predilection towards wasting resources, and throwing things away it doesn’t want to deal with in a rational way: trash, buildings…human beings. We are a sick country…in denial.

I like painted brick, in some cases. I wonder (haven’t googled it), if there is a safe way of doing it? I like the way that house looks in the posting, and this one as well.

To me, it doesn’t seem like a sign of a flipper, but rather someone who cares about their home (I am not an expert on these things). I’ve seen many great examples in Chicago and New York….and white is probably the best color when doing it. Makes the home ‘pop.’

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