Have Your Voice Heard Now on the Potential Pevely Complex Demolition

UPDATE: The final agenda for the December 19 Preservation Board meeting has been posted and the city's Cultural Resources Office has recommended that two of the four demolition permits sought by St. Louis University be approved. The CRO recommendation as it appears on the agenda can be read below.

The historic corner Pevely Dairy office building would remain, as would the iconic smokestack. Gone would be the milk plant on located on Chouteau adjacent to the office building, and the garage. In short, the CRO claims that the corner building and smokestack are of "high merit", while the two other structures are not and would be difficult to repurpose.

Pevely Dairy demolition site plan
{blue = demo permits recommended denied, red = permits recommended approved, yellow = building lost to 2009 fire, green = building not (yet) owned by SLU}

Pevely Dairy demolition site plan
{blue = demo permits recommended denied, red = permits recommended approved, yellow = building lost to 2009 fire, green = building not (yet) owned by SLU}

According to the CRO recommendation, allowing for the demolition of the two largest structures on the site "would provide additional areas for the siting of the proposed facility and would constitute an acceptable amount of change to the urban design of the area." To-date, the CRO has received 21 pieces of correspondence on this issue; 20 opposed to demolition (several primarily urging retention of corner building and smokestack) and 1 supporting all four demolition permits. There is still time to weigh in. Please read below and email the CRO and Preservation Board with your comments.

The story below originally appeared 12/14/2011

The process of historic preservation in St. Louis may not be as easy as clicking "Like" and voila, a building is saved, but neither is it a Byzantine or closed process. The city's Preservation Board will meet next Monday, December 19 to consider an appeal by St. Louis University to allow for the demolition of the Pevely Dairy complex on the southwest corner of Grand and Chouteau Avenues near the school's medical campus.

Tweets, RT's, Facebook posts and ranting emails to friends may be cathartic, but the Preservation Board and St. Louis University do not care. They are not entered into the official record of community feedback. If you care about our built environment and want your voice to be heard, you have two choices (and one of which we'll pretty much do for you).

You can attend the hearing on December 19 at 4:00 p.m. at 1015 Locust Street, suite 1200. Be sure to arrive by 4:00 p.m. to sign up to testify, then speak your mind. It can be 10 seconds or 2 minutes, a passionate plea to save a building you personally like, or a bullet point list of all relevant issues you believe pertain to Pevely. It's a lot to ask someone to take time away from work and family to attend this meeting. Some will, but many more who care about this issue will not. But there's a much easier way for your voice to be heard. Your opinion can be entered into the official record and be considered by the Cultural Resources Office staff when making a final decision without attending the meeting.

If you read the CRO and Preservation Board agendas and meeting minutes like I do (it's OK, I know you don't, and can't blame you), then you know that the average number of comments received by the public on these issues is less than one (and likely less than 0.01). Projects big and small, simple and complex pass through the process with nary a word from anyone.

I don't expect everyone to drop what they're doing and appear at the hearing, but please do this: send an email voicing your opinion to Betsy Bradley, Director of the Cultural Resources Office at [email protected] You can also contact the Preservation Board at [email protected] Again, your comment can be one line or 2,000 words. What's most important is that you weigh in.

That's pretty easy, but we're going to make it even easier. Feel free to simply cut and paste the message below or edit as you please:

To Whom It May Concern:

Regarding the pending appeal of the denial of four demolition permits to demolish the Pevely Dairy Company Plant, I fervently believe that the denial should be upheld by the Preservation Board. The Pevely complex, and specifically the building residing on the southwest corner of Grand and Chouteau Avenues, is historically significant. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is eligible for state and federal historic tax credits for rehabilitation. In addition, it is a landmark building in the city. It creates a sense of place, you know where you are in the city when you see the Pevely building, sign and smokestack. This sense of place is too often neglected and too often under threat in our city. 

St. Louis University is a positive and valued institution in our city. Their medical facilities have a positive economic impact. They are also clearly in need of a new SLUCare facility. It is likely true that the Pevely complex and corner building are not "suitable for a state-of-the art medical facility such as the University's physician practice." However, it's very difficult to believe that SLU purchased the building without knowing if its reuse where feasible or desired. Sunk costs are not a valid argument for demolition. I understand that SLU desires the highest visibility location possible for its new facility. I am asking that SLU utilize its second or third site choice for the facility that will undoubtedly be built whether or not the Pevely complex stands.

I am asking that SLU's business interests be balanced with those of the community, by my interest. I want St. Louis to remain a uniquely identifiable place. I want St. Louis to value its incredible built environment. I want a listing on the National Register of Historic Places to mean something. I want SLU to build a new facility and continue to serve the community, I only ask that they do so in a manner that respects my city. Please uphold the denial of four demolition permits to demolish the Pevely Dairy Company Plant.


Joe Preservation

Pevely Dairy Complex – Preservation Board Final Agenda