Developer Seeks Demolition for Historic Station G

What was once to be the historic centerpiece of several significant developments on the north side of Forest Park Southeast is now threatened with demolition. Jerry Hochman of the Chouteau Building Group is the owner of the property which was until recently in the hands of developer Jerry King. The Geo St. Louis site has no recorded sales for the property. Hochman proposes to demolish the Station G building to build a three-story condo building. The proposed demolition is simply an awful idea and the neighborhood and city should loudly say “no”.

The Station G building is worth saving on its own merit. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in February, 2007 (application below). Station G is the only remaining building standing on the north side of the 4400 and 4300 blocks of Chouteau and its facade contributes well to the streetscape.

{Station G is the last remaining for two blocks on Chouteau Avenue}

{the address is wrong (4427 Chouteau), but it’s easy to find as the only building on the block}

The area has a recent history of false starts on big projects. The adjacent gasometer was demolished in 2007 and was to be the site of a $8.2M, 28-unit townhome project. The Saaman group folded and the site is currently for sale. Across Newstead Avenue to the east, buildings were cleared for what will be Chouteau Park (design by H3 Studio – PDF). Needed or not, the currently vacant block is the product of a deal resulting from the extended and modified lease by BJC on Hudlin Park, a corner of Forest Park on the east side of Kingshighway. Those opposed to that deal, which will allow BJC to build on the park, demanded park land in return. The Chouteau Park plan has been finalized and funding exists to grade the park and begin adding amenities.

{Station G with future Chouteau Park to the right}

To the west of Station G, a entirely separate proposal for a 4-story, 200-unit apartment building sits dormant and is likely dead as a long effort to secure HUD financing has not been successful. In May 2009, the neighborhood development committee (on which I serve) denied a demolition permit for a three-family building at 921 S. Taylor, near Chouteau and Taylor Avenues, for a parking lot. In November 2010, the committee supported a request for emergency demolition for several shotgun homes on Arco. As of March 20, 2011, the buildings remain standing.

Demolition of Station G will not improve Forest Park Southeast, or the City of St. Louis. It’s unfortunate that several projects have stalled, but there remain several opportunities to build on vacant land in FPSE if a developer wants to build. When there are vacant blocks and several vacant residential lots immediately adjacent to this site, the correct solution is not to demolish the one remaining, historic, placemaking building. An aspiring or revitalizing neighborhood should always be doing more to retain its historic fabric, its identity, not less. It may be time to oppose all demolition in the neighborhood simply on principal.

Preliminary review of the request for demolition will occur at the Preservation Board Meeting, Monday, March 28 at 4:00 p.m. at 1015 Locust, #200. Click here for the meeting agenda.

{proposal for northeast corner of Chouteau and Taylor Avenues (independent of Station G)}

{Station G building outline is shown at far right of siteplan (independent of Station G)}

Station G National Register of Historic Places Application by on Scribd