The above image was taken Monday, July 23-2012. The view is looking east on Chouteau toward Grand and the remaning Pevely Diary building from near Spring Avenue. When posted on this site on that day, it was accompnied only by this: des·o·late /ˈdesəlit/ Adjective: (of a place) Deserted of people and in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness. Viewing the image after taking it, I was struck by just how…desolate the image appeared. After initially being denied demolition in late 2011, owner Saint Louis University was allowed to demolish all but the corner building in early 2012. The testimony leading to that result included a threat to move the SLU Medical School and hospital to St. Louis County and a commitment to build a new hospital on the site, a facility that was reportedly financed and ready to break ground in March 2012. By August last year, nextSTL had learned that SLU had decided to pass on the site. Now, more than a year later, little has changed.
Piles of rubble have sprouted weeds several feet high. Rebar and steel tanks sit rusting along Grand Avenue. The eyesore that SLU so desperately wanted to be rid of is truly a black eye on the city today. Several reader comments back in July 2012 projected optimism: “Have some patience and a little vision. SLU will build something and people will work there.”, said one. Cheering the demolition, another said, “SLU is responsible for the safety of its students as well as the perception of safety. If the surrounding area of its campus is abysmal, that doesn’t bode well for the university nor the St. Louis region to attract potential students. When will you all get this!?!?!?” The gist of these comments were that the image was unfair. Just wait and see what SLU builds! I offered to take the same photo a year later. Here it is, taken Thursday, September 19-2013:
This should leave us with two questions: How long will this property be allowed to remain in this condition, and what is the total amount of fines accrued by the property owner to date?
Recently, there was reportedly some movement on the issue. Seventeenth Ward Alderman Joe Roddy responded to complaints online, posting, “the Mayor met with Father Biondi on Friday 8/9. I was out of town but was advised the removal would begin within two weeks of that meeting.” On 9/7 Roddy posted the following, quoting the city’s building commissioner Frank Oswald as stating the following agreements were reached in the 8/9 meeting, “1. S.L.U. will hire a contractor to remove all of the debris mounds, grade the area with topsoil and plant grass. 2. S.L.U. will secure the remaining building such that entry can not be made. They also will be meeting my staff at the site to determine what can be done to maintain minimum code conditions until a final decision re this building has been made.”
And the two questions remain.
Additional images of the Pevely site from 9/19/2013: