St. Louis University Seeks Demolition for Historic Pevely Dairy Complex

Tiffany neighborhood - STLIf Saint Louis University gets it's way, the 10-acre Pevely Dairy complex that has dominated the southwest corner of Chouteau and Grand Avenues will be demolished. The complex's marquee building was built in 1915 and operated until 2008, when it abruptly closed.

Rick Yackey and Bruce Development had the property under contract with an asking price of $5.9M when a fire destroyed one of the larger buildings in 2009. They eventually bought the building in April, 2010 for $2.2M.  Redevelopment plans for 165 market-rate apartments and retail were announced and quickly fell through, though the project can still be found on the Bruce Development website. St. Louis University purchased the property earlier this year for an undisclosed amount and has made no public statement regarding its future.

Pevely Dairy rendering Pevely Dairy rendering
{renderings of past proposal for residential and retail redevelopment}

After nearly a century in operation, the site's recent history has been dramatic and perhaps, now, tragic. In an extraordinarily short time span, the complex was closed, burned, purchased, to much praise announced as residential redevelopment, then sold and now possibly demolished. According the Post-Dispatch, he demolition permit will likely be reviewed by the city's Preservation Board at the scheduled November 28 meeting.

The Yackey name will be familiar to those following historic preservation and development in St. Louis. Rick has partnered with Bruce Development on several very nice projects in St. Louis, including recently the West End Lofts at Sarah and Forest Park Avenue. He's also the owner of the iconic saucer-shaped Phillips 66/Del Taco building several blocks north on Grand. His announced intention to demolish that building was met with significant opposition. He currently states that he is exploring renovation and reuse of the structure. 

Tiffany neighborhood - STL

St. Louis University has acquired significant land holdings surrounding their South Grand medical campus in recent years. Demolition of housing and other buildings has proceeded quickly. The west side of Grand is part of the city's 17th Ward. Alderman Joe Roddy will have a chance to voice his opinion on the matter before a final decision is made. Roddy recently made a rare appearance at a neighborhood development committee meeting to endorse demolition to make way for a new QuickTrip gas station.

More than 30 homes were recently demolished by university on Rutger and Hickory Streets and another dozen will soon be gone on the north side of Hickory. Read the excellent story at Vanishing STL. East of Grand, the university has acquired and cleared nearly a dozen city blocks, erected parking garages, built a new intramural sports field and track and left other blocks empty. The Doisey research center on the southeast corner of Chouteau and Grand occupies a very small area of its site, giving the attractive, rather urban, building a rather suburban setting. It would appear that the goal is create another campus similar to the very anti-urban SLU campus east of Grand at Lindell.

The new Grand Avenue viaduct will make the Pevely complex and critical anchor and the corner an even more significant landmark along Grand Avenue. This is the only building at this corner that provides a human-scale place, a sense of being somewhere in a city. The disturbing trend of demolishing significant corner buildings continues nearly unabated in the City of St. Louis. To let your thoughts be known, contact members of the Preservation Board, 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy and Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi ([email protected]). Lighting up Mayor Slay's Twitter feed never hurts either.

*UPDATE 11/3/2011
The Post-Dispatch is now reporting that Saint Louis University would consider preserving the smokestack and facade of the corner building in a redevelopment plan. Planned is a new physician's building. A SLU spokesperson is quoted as saying, "In general, the site's industrial buildings are not suited to developing the kind of state-of-the-art, patient-centered facility needed for SLUCare." One is left to wonder if the numerous nearby vacant lots are also not suited for new construction. The corner building occupies a very small portion of the site. Creative incorporation of the corner (and other) structures would set a positive precedent of preservation and reuse.

{Pevely site shown in blue, recent residential demolition in yellow, Doisy building, parking and intramural field to the right}

Tiffany neighborhood - STL
{this building to the south of Pevely is a longtime office furniture warehouse, currently on the market for $650K}

Tiffany neighborhood - STL
{former Pevely Dairy retail entrance}

{interior of former Pevely Dairy retail space – photo by Michael Allen of the Preservation Research Office}