Why I oppose the demolition of the Phillips 66 (Del Taco) Building at Council Plaza

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Sign the I oppose demolition of the Phillips 66 (Del Taco) Building at Council Plaza petition
Supported by nextSTL.com and Modern-STL.com

[edit 6/27] City of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay weighs in on the issue: The Del Taco

The Internet and local media have been abuzz about an almost missed "blight" designation quietly passed recently by the St. Louis Redevelopment Corporation. This likely would not have been noticed, but for St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Tim Logan filling a slow moment by covering city government. What is a "blight" designation? It allows a city development plan to circumvent demolition review and basically rubber stamp a developer's plan. 

Seventeenth Ward Alderman Joe Roddy has already declared the building "toast". Why? Does it have little historic value? Is it too suburban and a more dense development would improve the city? No, of course not. He believes it's gone solely as the result of "Aldermanic courtesy": the act of an alderperson supporting proposals that any other alderperson proposes for his or her own ward. "If the Alderwoman of the 19th district is in favor of its demolition, I would say its toast," explained Roddy in a KMOX news story.

Presumably, Alderwoman Davis has been working on a development plan with the property owner for some time and the bill is the culmination of that effort? Not so. Davis claimed to have not spoken to the developer in more than a year, a claim that appears hollow after bill #118 was introduced less than 24 hours later. Either the Alderwoman wasn't being truthful about her contact with the developer, or the bill was written in haste and without review of any pending development plan. As of the time of this writing no development plan had been presented.

The "courtesy" issue highlights that this is not a simply fight for a building, but opposition to a ridiculous, harmful and shortsighted political process. As of the time of this story, more than 9,000 individuals had "Liked" the "Save St. Louis Del Taco" page on Facebook, an impressive and immediate outpouring of opposition to proposed demolition. However, it seems unlikely the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen will weigh "Likes" too heavily. More can and should be done.

nextSTL is taking its mission to support smarter development in the City of St. Louis to the Board of Aldermen by setting up an official petition to oppose Board Bill #118 submitted by Alderwoman Marlene Davis (text of bill is below). Add your name to the list and sign the petition here. Collected names will be presented to the Board of Alderman before a final vote is taken on the bill.

del taco aerial_3

Among other "findings", the bill uses the standard language of "blight": " finding that redevelopment and rehabilitation of the Area is in the interest of the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the people of the City" and goes on to request "various officials, departments, boards and agencies of the City to cooperate and to exercise their respective powers in a manner consistent with the Plan".

Make no mistake, if Board Bill #118 is approved by the Board of Aldermen, the Mid-Century Modern building will be lost. Why does this matter? Many love the building for its aesthetics. Some love it as a landmark. Some have late-night memories from their days at Saint Louis University, or just stopping in. These are all reasons why someone can value a place and a building.

There are additional reasons as well (as stated in the petition):

It is the signature building of the Council Plaza development listed as having "exceptional signficance" by the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places; and 

The National Register of Historic Places designation is granted protection 
under the City of St. Louis preservation ordinance, a public law; and 

State and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits have been awarded and used by the developer of Council Plaza in part due to the presence of the Phillips 66 building; and 

Further tax support in the form of a 10-year tax abatement Transportation Development District and Community Improvement District should not be offered to support demolition; and 

The use of the “blight” label allowing demolition is unjustified and an abuse of that economic tool; and 

The building suits the site well, as Interstate 64, Grand Avenue, Forest Park Avenue and associated access ramps create an inherently inhospitable pedestrian environment; and 

The building is an iconic landmark, adding character and interest to the City of St. Louis.

So you think it's an awesome building? Sign the petition. You remember downing three burritos at 4am of finals week? Sign the petition. You oppose the wasteful demolition of a building that has and can be repurposed? Sign the petition. You simply think that developers have the Board of Alderman and the city over a barrel? Sign the petition. At some point, St. Louis and its citizens must make a stand and express what they value. It's just a Del Taco? No, this board bill and demolition effort is a microcosm of the failed state of planning, development and city government in St. Louis.

The property was blighted without a redevelopment plan. The rumor is that a "more pedestrian-friendly" street-fronting commercial building with two national chain restaurants would replace the Del Taco spaceship. What's not to like for the urban-minded? The site is not urban and will not be an inviting pedestrian venue as long as I-64 and Forest Park Avenue remain. This urban-located site is a very good location for a relatively auto-centric development. 

That's why I oppose the demolition of the Phillips 66 (Del Taco) Building at Council Plaza.

City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen BB118 – Demolition of Phillips 66-Del Taco Building

Phillips 66/Del Taco Building Blighting Study – 212 South Grand, St. Louis, MO

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  • rawest1

    As a SLU alum, I must say the place is an eyesore, and the shadiest people hang out there after hours.  Maybe a lot of students went there at one time, but during my four years there (2007-2011) my friends and I went there twice.  And it was creepy and disgusting and I would never go back.  Sober.  Everyone I’ve spoken to about this agrees; no students I know would miss that building.  The only alumni I know that seem to care are ones that went here a while ago.  Like I said, maybe things were different then.

    The tenant has been in bankruptcy for over a year now, and I must say the same will likely happen to whatever fast-food company would take Del Taco’s place IF another were to take its place and the place doesn’t sit abandoned.

    The building needs to go, that area could desperately use an update.  Even a parking lot would make me feel safer coming in and out of the newly-acquired Flats.  If they get a retail strip with something useful the students would actually make heavy use of (I heard rumors of a CVS somewhere), then all the better.  But in this case, even nothing is better than this.

    And don’t let this make you think that I am categorically anti-preservationist.  There are hundreds of buildings in St. Louis (thousands?) that are in danger that need saving.

    Just my two cents.

    • Joe Huber

      Thank you for echoing my feelings about this place.  I truly is an “eyesore,” and  it is always good to hear from people who actually live next to it.  And like you, I am not anti-preservationist, I consider myself a practical preservationist and buildings like this need to go so that St. Louis can move forward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=567210521 Dana Geister

    It is an eyesore because the developer bought it in 2004 and let it deteriorate so that blighting would seem like a logical move. The building itself only left a bad impression with you because of lack of upkeep. As far the people that go there, changing the building is not going to change the demographics of the neighborhood. Kick Del Taco out and put something else there. Stop trying to turn the city into the county.

    • rawest1

      Perhaps the demographics won’t change because of the hopeless dump Grandview Apartments behind it, and whatever that other building they’re renovating is, but frankly, when you’re talking about a building that’s practically on SLU’s campus, you should think first about the students.

      As I said, a negligible fraction of SLU’s student body patronizes the place regularly, if ever.  Putting either a) a parking lot which would deter shady customers from congregating at the place or b) something the students would actually use a lot like a CVS would be a huge victory for the location.

      Doing both of those things would be an even bigger victory.

      Again, this is all just my opinion, but I feel like it is shared as the consensus among most people who have actually lived there within the past few years.

      • rawest1

        And by most people I mean most students, who are the people who actually give that area its lifeblood.

        • Joe Huber

          I totally agree, rawest1.  It is so important to think about the students in this case, especially potential SLU students.  

          When prospective students are touring the campus and driving around the neighborhood, I guarantee you that the Del Taco is a turn-off.  It obviously won’t make or break a kid’s decision on where to attend, but the environment around the school does have an impact.

          • Adam

            and i’m sure the giant parking lot next door to Del Taco is a real draw for prospective students. people, THERE IS A GIANT SURFACE LOT NEXT DOOR TO DEL TACO. this one building would not make or break a retail development. and how the hell is destroying it better than cleaning it up and repurposing it? the building is not the problem. the problem is the calibur of business occupying it and the fact that it sits in the middle of an asphalt sea. put buildings NEXT to it. build sidewalks up to it. landscape the surround area. college kids love coffee shops – make it a coffee shop! use some imagination. cities aren’t grown by tearing a building down for every one that goes up.

          • charliestl

            Have you ever spent time on SLU’s campus? Only a tiny percentage of students venture outside their dorms and cafeterias. Not many students even walk by the Del Taco except to get to the Flats. SLU moves entrances to dorms around because students don’t like walking near bus stops (look across the street from Del Taco). Six Row is a great little brewery but I’ve never seen a student there and it’s right in the middle of campus. Whatever might replace Del Taco will have the same difficulties attracting new customers.

          • Joe

            Actually I have spent time on SLU’s campus having been a prospective student this year. And I think its hard to believe students would never leave their dorms for anything.  The fact is, the building is right next door to the Flats and I wouldn’t want to live next to a building, as some have indicated on this comment chain, is “creepy and disgusting.” 

            In the end I chose to attend a different college, and believe me the neighborhood was a huge factor in my decision.

          • rawest1

            The charge that we barely left our residence halls is totally false and I resent it.  People walked all the time to the fast food on lindell.  McDonald’s always had some students in it.  Qdoba did well, too.  People go to Pappy’s ALL THE TIME for lunch.  Jimmy Johns, right next to your precious Six Row, is a LATE NIGHT STAPLE! (although that’s apparently coming down too, though thankfully Pickleman’s largely fills that void).  The Library Annex, right across the street from your precious Six Row, is a runaway success, packed with students every Thurs, Fri and Sat nite.

            The reason people don’t go to Six Row specifically is because it is not a college bar, plain and simple.  On the south side of campus you’ve got Humps, THE establishment college bar with its Pennies special and its classic SLU atmosphere, you’ve got Lacledes, which is a dive with a dancefloor that doesn’t card and lets the 18/19/20 year olds grind all over each other, and you’ve got the Annex, which has excellent specials Thursday nights and a great atmosphere.  Throw in Chuy’s on the north end, which has a terrific happy hour from 9pm-midnight, and essentially doesn’t card either, and why would anyone go to 6 Row on a regular basis? They even serve some 6 Row beer on tap at Humps and the Lib, if you want their beer so badly.

          • Michael

            This is not the place for a discussion of student bar activity.  Obviously rawest1 is not concerned about architectural significance but party life at SLU.  Since 3/4 th’s of the student body legally shouldn’t be even drinking who cares?  I am sure that SLU has a student activity board for students to do things on campus.  Demolishing Del Taco isn’t going to solve his dilemna.

          • rawest1

            I was refuting the charge that “no one ever leaves their dorms and cafeterias anyway,” and since he made a specific reference to Six Row, I explained why Six Row is not chosen in light of the other options for beer around campus.

            Shame on you for drawing unfounded conclusions about me and wherever my passions lie.

          • john w.

            You set the pins for the strike, and now you expect others to feel shame? Get real.

          • rawest1

            Pardon me for defending myself and other SLU students from false and unfounded accusations.

          • john w.

            I think that’s taking it a bit far. False accusations? of what?

      • Michael

        No, the city does not have to think first of the SLU students!  Non tax paying, non voting guests for 4 years.  The city needs to think about what contributes to the value and benefit to all it’s residents that live, work, and pay taxes and choose to live here not visit.  If you don’t want to go to a city “campus” then you shouldn’t go to SLU!  There are plenty of isolated, homogenous, suburban, Disney like schools to go to instead of a city campus like SLU.  There are benefits and drawbacks to both kinds of schools, but don’t try to make SLU something it isn’t!

  • MMchi

    I am also a recent SLU alum and agree that this building is an eyesore and can’t understand the huge desire to save this building… I have enjoyed being at SLU the past several years and seeing the effort developers have put into the area and surrounding buildings (the Lofts on Laclede, buildings at Spring and Forest Park, Midtown Alley…).  In my opinion, demolishing the del Taco building is progress.

    • rawest1

      I’d like to echo this comment.  It truly is inspiring to see how far midtown has come even in the past 2 or 3 years.  That whole strip of shops and restaurants just east of the Olive/Compton intersection is phenomenal progress, as is the crop of lofts (Spring Street, PW Shoe, etc.), and on top of that, everything that’s sprung up on Locust in the past few years.  The Grand Center renovations featured in the recent article on this site just a few days down makes my mouth water tremendously for the kind of potential the area has for infill; if done correctly, with some luck and economic upswing, the area could become another sort of funky, artsy neighborhood.

      Again, demolishing this building and putting, in its place, things people would actually use, would only be a natural continuation of upgrading and improving the neighborhood.

      • rbeedee

        One problem: we don’t know what’s planned to go in its place. Let’s at least see what the options are before we irrevocably demolish what’s there.

        Also, Midtown is flourishing primarily due to repurposing of existing structures, this is going in the opposite direction.

        • rawest1

          If this were a pretty, ornate brick building like those other repurposed structures of which you are speaking, I’d see your point.  As it is, this is a pretty bad analogy.

          • charliestl

            It’s an eyesore because the building and its parking lot hasn’t been maintained. Also it’s covered in Del Taco’s hideous logos and paint job. It’s a unique building, why not take advantage of that? I’m so sick of seeing buildings torn down just to be replaced by something generic, or nothing at all. 

          • john w.

            Are you serious? This is what you offered above- “The Grand Center renovations featured in the recent article on this site just a few days down makes my mouth water tremendously for the kind of potential the area has for infill; if done correctly, with some luck and economic upswing, the area could become another sort of funky, artsy neighborhood.” 
            Here’s a really bad analogy for you- equating anything “funky” or “artsy” with suburban strip style, or shopping mall outparcel style retail construction and land development, in any way. If you’re limiting the potential of architectural history to only periods where ornamamental brick was common, then you’ll likely have a tough time creating an “funky, artsy neighborhood”. What’s funkier than a flying saucer landing in the city? This striking architectural feature could be readily used  to serve up walking food, coffee, transit and event passes or  possibly even serve as an eventual BRT terminal.
            Hopefully, most citizens have at least this much vision, and can then see the obvous value in this truly unique structure. Why destroy the “funky” and “artsy”, to only replace it with schlock?

          • rawest1

            Because this is basically on SLU’s campus,  You can say “but it isn’t on the campus” all you want, but the simple fact is it is adjacent to a residence hall on either side (Marchetti to the north, the Flats to the south), and another across the street to the west (Reinert), so essentially all of the traffic the space encounters is student traffic. There’s already a coffee shop in the student center (The Bean), and an even nicer on the other end of campus (Cafe Ventana).

            A coffee shop there would probably go bankrupt just like everything else that takes that place over; no students will go there because there are already other coffee shops right on/off campus, where vagrants won’t be accosting you for ‘fitty cent’ in order to pay for the ‘next bus.’  A pharmacy/grocery store, on the other hand, is just one example of a kind of store that is BADLY NEEDED on/near campus as the nearest groceries/pharmacy are at Shnucks like three blocks west on Lindell, or the Walgreens which is even further west.

            The day that Del Taco building is demolished will be a victory for SLU and its students.

          • john w.

            Thank goodness the students are only temporary residents. If you don’t like our city, then you can leave. The city streets belong to the city, and not to SLU, and when you finally begin to realize this, we can have more intelligent conversation. The rejection of the demolition permit for this building would
            be huge victory for the taxpaying citizens of St. Louis, who live here
            full time and don’t give much weight to the opinions of the temporary.

          • john w.

            “Because this is basically on SLU’s campus,  You can say “but it isn’t on
            the campus” all you want…”

            Yes, I can, and I will. Please try to understand the difference between ‘basically’, and ‘actually’. I am never one to bend to the short-sighted libertarian attitude toward property ownership vs. the public sphere when considering the urban condition versus the suburban or rural, and this is case no different. The city streets and the environs permitted and encouraged to evolve along them are far more subject to public consideration of proposals because of the dense, cooperative nature of the built urban environment.

            I have little problem with a repurpose of this iconic building to something that SLU students feel best suits their needs along with residents of the city-at-large.

          • Michael

            OMG walk 3 blocks to the grocery store!  what kinda lazy ass is this?  I bet you get upset when you can’t park your SUV right in front of where you want to go in the city too!  You should move to the suburbs where they have nice big sprawling strip malls with LOTS of asphalt parking right out front and if you get yourself a disability sticker you will always have that front spot!  LOL

          • Michael

            Pretty ornate brick buildings are not the only buildings worthy of saving.  In fact saving only one style of building that meets just one vision of historic preservation is a very narrow minded approach.  It equates to only thinking one form of painting, say realism, is worth viewing and all other forms, impressionism, abstract, cubism, surrealism, etc should be destroyed.  This is what your “vision” is and it is not what a city like St. Louis needs.  

    • Michael

      Del Taco / Phillips 66 should be saved, renovated and if need be re-purposed.  The building is iconic of a time and mindset and similar to the preservation of the giant AMOCO sign at Skinker and Clayton.  If it were more pedestrian friendly (a tough one on that intersection) would it be utilized more by the students?  That intersection is definitely an auto-centric location and the Del Taco building is exactly that, a building designed to service the growing auto mindset of the 1950′s.  Buildings like this have disappeared across America and only recently have people begun to realize what we have destroyed as part of our history. You don’t have to like something to appreciate it’s value.  Why have so many Americans become so intolerant of anything that doesn’t meet their idea of what America and American society should be?

  • Rick

    This is one of those issues that tears people apart.

  • Adam

    it’s amazing to me that people can’t fathom the idea of leaving the building AND building more retail around it. we are a visionless bunch in saint louis, aren’t we?

    • john w.

      Stunning, isn’t it?

  • http://contact.innov8ion.com David Goldstick

    I don’t believe that Aldermanic courtesy is always the evil that Alex and others make it out to be.  Shouldn’t decisions largely be made by those that are affected most? IE, this issue more greatly affects those that live in Marlene Davis’ ward and therefore it makes sense that they would have more of a say than outsiders.

    Politics isn’t as simple as many wish it were. Check out the Mayor’s poll on, “Which government should decide what issue” — http://www.mayorslay.com/polls/20110623regulation.php

    • rbeedee

      I don’t think aldermanic courtesy is entirely a bad thing, we should all give more weight to the people most affected. I think the problem with aldermanic courtesy as practiced in St. Louis is that it’s taken to the extreme: if it’s not in your ward, it’s none of your business. That results in a fragmented city, without much incentive for alderman to think city-wide. The ward boundaries are as arbitrary as the city-county divide, what happens in one ward absolutely affects others, and the people of St. Louis live, work, and play in wards all across the city. I’d like to see some at-large alderman on the board, or a stronger mayor position.

      Also, to me the way this has been fast-tracked, with a lot of the ground work done behind the scenes and in such a way as to bypass some of the traditional venues for citizens to relay their concerns (e.g., no demo review) suggests that there wasn’t a whole lot of concern about getting input from even the ward residents.

  • GP

    One of the beautiful things about cities is that they are always changing. 

    • rbeedee

      Changing to what, though? We’ve had good change and bad change in St. Louis, and I don’t think we have enough info to guess what sort of change this demo would represent.

    • john w.

      You must have little knowledge of the era of urban renewal land clearance in this and many other cities, or you have a peculiar definition of “beautiful things”.

  • Jeanette

    I think what’s more beautiful than urban infill is re-purposing existing sites… especially those with architectural significance. Just because the building has been used for auto-centric commerce in the past does not mean that it needs to remain that way. Especially in a potentially hip, student area (with a sweet bridge on the way)–developers should think outside the box instead of building what is essentially another mini-strip mall that will go unnoticed like its many twins.

    • rawest1

      If you build a strip mall with stores like CVS in this space which is essentially on SLU’s campus, then they will not go unnoticed in the slightest.

      • john w.

        …but it’s not on SLU’s campus, and the city streets upon which the SLU campus is located belong to everyone- not just a temporary population of residents. As a permanent resident of the city of St. Louis, I frankly don’t give near as much weight to the perspective of a political science major from [Joliet, Illinois, or some other place not called St. Louis city] who, upon graduation likely after only 4 years, then departs our city and [returns to Joliet, or goes elsewhere]. The numerous memories of personal history at this unique place, and anecdotes that recount them are worth so much more than a nondescript retail box like so much more schlock built in the city. This building should remain and be repurposed to better serve ALL that encounter it, and not just temporary student population. This building has been used as a landmark by so many because of its distinctive appearance, and there is little reason that this inherent quality couldn’t also be deployed effectively in a repurposing scheme that does, in fact, serve ALL those that encounter it.

        • rawest1

          But it basically is, and the SLU students are the lifeblood of the area, like it or not.  Take away SLU’s campus and that area is nothing.

          • Michael

            And take away the city and SLU is nothing!

          • rawest1

            I disagree with your analogy in that SLU has much more to gain/lose from whatever’s there than the entire city of St. Louis at large.

          • Michael

            But SLU does not decide what St. Louis City should do.  Thank God.

        • rawest1

          And like I said in that reply to you on that other comment, when you’re talking about everyone who encounters it, you’re really just talking about students; I mean the building is surrounded on three of its four sides by residence halls.  The fourth side is a dumpy section 8 apt building that almost no one lives in anyway.

          As for building around it, there isn’t enough room.  I’m looking at that google-maps shot Alex put in the article of the area; if you’re going to put grocery/pharmacy/retail there, plus a parking lot, the Del Taco has to go.

          Sorry dude.  The building looks weird, but that alone does not make it worth saving.  Getting rid of it and putting something actually needed, like a grocery/pharmacy store, is 100% better for the area.

          100%

          • Michael

            You are incorrect in continually stating it is surrounded by residence halls.  You have three major arteries, Grand, Forest Park Pkwy, 64/40 with a gas station diagonally across. The Council Plaza has an enormous parking lot under the building and formerly housed retail and service businesses as well as the labor union and affiliated offices.  Whether SLU students utilize whatever is in the building or not IS NOT a criteria for demolition.  By that standard should the city tear down whatever buildings are not used by city tax paying residents? I’m sure there are several buildings on SLU campus that meet that criteria!  I’m beginning to think you (rawest1) are the developer that wants to tear down the building!

          • rawest1

            I’ll have no more of your name-calling, between accusing me of being someone who only cares about the partying and bars around SLU’s campus, to being a developer who wants to tear down this building.

            I am simply an alumnus of Saint Louis University who, for the past four years, had to deal with this piece of crap building and the shady people that congregate there, along with all the other students, whenever we were visiting friends living in Marchetti, Reinert, or the Flats (you know, those three residence halls that surround the Del Taco) while having to cross those dangerous ‘arteries’ of which you speak, which mostly send cars speeding right by from the city to the county and vice-versa.

            I know how the student body and the university administration all feel about the Del Taco for the most part.  And I think what they want is more important than what preservationists want.

            And again, like I said in my original post, I am not categorically anti-preservationist.

            This is just one building that has got to go.

          • Michael

            Name calling?  You are the one using derogatory names thru out your posts. Tearing down the building will not solve any of the problems you cite, yet you seem to think that is the ONLY solution.  One has to wonder what your real motivation is here?

          • rawest1

            I’ve been nothing but respectful to the people I disagree with here.

            I cannot honestly say the same for you.

          • Michael

            Let’s analyze what you have stated so far in your argument.  Quote “creepy and disgusting, dumpy section 8, weird, piece of crap building, shady people, hopeless dump, vagrants accosting, eyesore, shadiest people”  all used in your “respectful” way I’m sure.  I have tried to politely point out that your view is totally one sided, that your aesthetic is minimal, and your exposure to and tolerance of differences is warped.  How respectful and intelligent an argument is it when you compare something to feces?  When you refer to others living and utilizing an area as shady and living in a dump?  I think the juvenile view you hold that you are being respectful and maintaining an intelligent argument and yet your are offended by my comments to the contrary and the questioning of your holier than thou motivation is laughable.  

          • john w.

            I suppose we’ll all have to make peace soon, otherwise our comments will be too skinny to read.

          • rawest1

            You’re right.  Maybe I should just lie and say the people at del taco after hours are just friendly.  They’re very clean. They smell good.  They’re actually going to spend the change I give them on a bus, and not black-tar heroin.  I’m sure in their brown paper bags, they’re carrying a bagel.  The Grandview Apartments would be a great place to live.  The Del Taco building ISN’T an eyesore.

            Pardon the sarcasm, but you seem to be implying that lying for the sake of political correctness is the way to go.

            Maybe I was overly insensitive with my diction, but there are ways to go about pointing that out, without making unfounded accusations like you did in the bit about the spots students go around SLU’s campus, and the other one where you implied I’m the “big, bad developer.”

            Please.

        • Teddyb14

          I apologize for not being a more active participant in this debate, but, unfortunately, I can’t check in on this site as frequently as I would like due to time constraints.  I would like to make a few points about whether SLU’s positions on this matter should be considered.

          I admit that I don’t have the statistics to back this up, but I feel safe in assuming that SLU is one of the larger if not the largest employer in the mid town area and, therefore, one of the largest contributors to the tax base of the area.  Because of this, the opinion of the University does matter.  The experience of the student body matters to the University, so, by extension, the opinions of the students, however temporary they may be, should figure into this issue.

          Secondly, many feel that the region should be working hard to attract younger, more highly educated people to the region.  Keeping these temporary residents would be easier by enhancing their experience while they are in our fair city.  The midtown area has improved significantly since I graduated from SLU over 10 years ago which is part of the reason that I am currently seeking to gain employment in the area, but the Del Taco site was an eyesore then and continues to be so now detracting from the midtown experience.

          Thirdly, SLU support of any plan would go a long way toward making it happen.  A transit transfer station could enhance the commuter student experience as well as the resident student experience by opening up new areas of the city/region to them.  While the students are temporary residents, they are residents who spend a lot of time in the area and can inform a lot about the experience of living there.

          Just adding my two cents worth.  Feel free to ridicule as much as you would like!

      • Michael

        Yeah, the ugliness and suburban style will stick out like a sore thumb. If you so want that style of living why don’t you just move out to the county?

  • Michael

    First, it is NOT on SLU campus and though SLU has bought tons of property in the greater area around the actually campus, they choose not to purchase this site.

    Two, SLU is part of the city, not a city onto itself.  As much as temporary students might want the city to be just for SLU, the reality is SLU needs to do more to be a good citizen of the city and do more for those less fortunate in their part of the city.  They are a religious institution receiving tax favored status and if their student body is afraid of some of the homeless pan-handler’s in the area perhaps SLU can do something about solving that problem instead of just pushing it into another aldermanic district.

    Three, though the building may not appeal to some individuals, the process of redevelopment should begin with what the new building will be and how that will add more to the city then the building they want to tear down.  Personally, college dorms don’t do much for me and would rather they were torn down then Del Taco.  In addition, the diagonal opposite corner is a BP gas station which I have never stopped in, but do they sell alcohol / beer?  I do stop in to Del Taco at times for a quick late night meal / snack.  Easy to get to, easy to get through, and never a problem with pan handlers.  I think the disgust with the site that I am reading here is coming more from students who are guests of the city then actual tax paying citizens of St. Louis.  

    • rawest1

      I don’t understand why the hundreds people who actually live in the buildings surrounding the Del Taco should have less of a say than people who live in another part of the city, just because the latter group pays taxes to the city and the former group won’t be living there for more than a couple years.  There will always be students living there, anyway.

      Do you or do you not agree that Saint Louis University is essentially the anchor of midtown, or at least that specific area of midtown? Your analogy about how we should hypothetically tear down the college dorms over the Del Taco on your own personal whims doesn’t make any sense because the college dorms don’t really have anything to do with you.  People like Joe Huber in these comments are choosing not to attend SLU, and how shady the neighborhood is (the Del Taco being a part of that) is a factor.  Therefore it’s directly hurting SLU.

      If you talk to alumni of the university from the 80′s and early 90′s, they’ll talk about how worse the area was, before the administration launched a massive campus beautification project.  The area has made strides since.  Replacing the Del Taco isn’t about making the city more like the county like you and others in these comments are implying.  It’s about putting something there that would directly benefit SLU, which, like it or not, accept it or deny it, IS essentially the area in question.

      • Michael

        By your argument then you should give a vote to the “shady” people since that is where they are?  Joe Huber can make a choice to not go to SLU for any reason he chooses.  Other students have obviously made a choice over the years to go to SLU despite Del Taco!  
        The city should not be making choices of demolition based on what’s best for SLU.  Especially as they are a tax exempt institution with a religious backing.  Separation of church and state?  And relative to tearing down the dorms, you are right, they have nothing to do with me as a tax paying citizen of the city, but Del Taco does!  So I vote for the building (not the business necessarily) to stay as it does represent an iconic example of a period of time in America that you obviously have no appreciation for at this point in your young life.  Perhaps when you get older and mature you will see things differently.

        • rawest1

          In this particular instance, I think the land can be better used as a grocery/pharmacy with a parking lot.  Maybe some other retail, maybe not.  But that would be way better than anything the building by itself could offer now.  And that, in my opinion, fair outweighs any benefits from keeping the building just because of “what it represents in history.”  I don’t think maturity has much to do with it.  I love a lot of St. Louis’s buildings because they’re old, especially the brick ones that are like a hundred years old or more.  There are plenty of buildings that need saving an preserving, I’m not ignorant of that viewpoint and I agree with it.

          I respect your viewpoint though I vehemently disagree, but I wish you weren’t so condescending and accusatory.

  • The_maestro

    This situation made me think of the Palm Springs Visitors Center, once a gas station designed by one of Palm Springs most noted modernist architects Albert Frey. Of course, they preserved it and it stands as an iconic monument to modern architecture in Palm Springs and, moreover, worldwide. We’ve got something similar right here in St. Louis and the thought of tearing it down just seems ridiculous.

    http://architecture.about.com/od/findphotos/ig/Palm-Springs-Pictures/Tramway-Gas-Station.htm

    • Michael

      Hooray!  The Mayor has weighed in for reconsideration of the demolition proposal.  Seems he has heard from numerous citizens AND students of SLU in favor of saving the Phillips 66 / Del Taco building.  Seems all the students of SLU aren’t in support of demolition as a few people here would have you believe.

  • http://twitter.com/JeremyClagett Jeremy Clagett

    We can talk about preservation and demolition, but respectful adaptation of the building is another option that has been mostly glossed over. Here’s one exploration into the possibilities: http://whatshouldbestl.com/