Worth a Fight or Time to Let It Go? Parking on an empty residential lot

The quick story is that the St. Louis College of Health Careers located immediately south of I-64 on Taylor Avenue, within sight of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, owns a grass lot one lot away from their building and parking. In 2009 they asked for neighborhood support to demolish the four-family building between the two in order to gain 18 parking spaces. The neighborhood development committee (on which I serve) said "no".

Since then, the grass lot has turned into an impromptu parking lot when the main lot is full. I have reported this non-conforming use to the St. Louis Citizens Service Bureau twice now, receiving confirmation that the lot owner (COHC) has been cited.

My concern is two-fold: 1) preventing grass lots in FPSE from becoming parking lots, and 2) the seeming effort to further degrade the standing residential building and ignore neighborhood supported zoning.

An issue with some similarities occurred on Halliday just off Grand Avenue when a condo developer decided to pave the front yard for parking. That change has been reversed and green grass now resides where the concrete was poured.

{paved front yard on Halliday has been returned to grass}

{concrete parking pad was returned to grass and angled parking was introduced}

My question to you is whether this is a worthwhile effort or a waste of time?

Full original post (June 14, 2009) with more about demolition and parking lot concerns is below:

{919-921 South Taylor Avenue and COHC entrance and parking}

Walking by 1919-1921 South Taylor Avenue this past week I observed a team of two surveyors laying out neon orange paint lines and flag markers. These guys are often short on information and simply stated that some project was going to happen on the site. This is nearly complete speculation on my part, but looking at property records the St. Louis College of Health Careers (COHC) owns property on both sides of this two-family building – the existing parking lot to the north and the vacant parcel to the south. The building itself was purchased for $198,000 in the fall of 2007 and is owned by an indiviual with a very modest St. Louis County address. My fear is that the home will be demolished for parking.

{red=former site of Magee's, blue=919-921 South Taylor, purple=lot owned by COHC, yellow=proposed Station G development, green=where COHC should expand parking if needed}

This building should be allowed to stand. It’s occupied and in good condition, it also serves a greater purpose to the neighborhood than the average residential building. Along with the now demolished Magee’s Bar on the southeast corner of Clayton and Taylor, 919-921 South Taylor serves to connect FPSE to the medical campus on a human scale.

Walking south on Taylor you had a neighborhood scale building in Magee's, then you crossed the Interstate and after the COHC parking entrance there's the 919-921 S. Taylor two-family mid-block. Without either of them you walk past several very large surface parking lots on Taylor, a grass lot (the former site of Magee’s), the Interstate and what may now become another parking lot. All of the sudden FPSE feels blocks away from the medical campus. There's little if nothing to tie them together.

These human scale connections are very important for a neighborhood. To see another example look at the Taylor facing building on the west side of Taylor between Chouteau and Gibson contributes disproportionately to the streetscape. Without it one feels themselves between parts of the neighborhood, in a dead zone between blocks. If done well the Station G project aid in this connection and a new wide and well lit Taylor Avenue bridge would be a big improvement.

919-921 South Taylor Avenue should remain and residential infill should be added to the adjacent vacant lot. If COHC needs additional parking it should be expanded to the north in the same method the Central Institute for the Deaf has done on the north side of I-64.

{additional example of mid-block residential building contribution to streetscape in FPSE}