How Long Will This Remain and What is the Total Accrual of Fines? #MtBiondi

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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:

Pevely 9-19-2013

Pevely 9-19-2013

Pevely 9-19-2013

Pevely 9-19-2013

Pevely 9-19-2013

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  • ppvoo

    another example of the commonality of double standard in this city Some people wouldn’t get away with this for 10 minutes while others 10 years is ok

  • MarkK

    Only reason SLU is getting away with this is because they agreed to move the Law School to downtown St.Louis. Demo permit was only to be granted if SLU agreed to move downtown.

  • Soil cap, landscape feature. Done.

  • Chris Naffziger

    Everyone knows there are two laws in the City of St. Louis: the ones for the wealthy and well-connected, and the laws for everyone else. Take a wild guess which set of “laws” SLU is beholden to.

    • Kurt

      actually there are three sets.
      1. Laws for those who can pay
      2. Laws for those who the city doesn’t think can pay

      3. Laws for the institutions or the super well connected.

      • samizdat

        3.b. Laws for cops who own property

      • jasonblack

        The selective enforcement that occurs in this city is world-class. How the feds haven’t yet come down on the whole operation is way beyond me. The old Lemp facility had, at last check, three commercial occupancy permits yet most of those spaces are leased. Most of those spaces couldn’t possibly pass any kind of inspection. Yet, the alderman knows. There’s even someone living in there which is well known too but I don’t see any fines racking up against the owners.

        There are crumbling buildings all over the city that we all know are not objects of concern to the city. Yet, my old neighbor who is in his mid-70’s and trying to run a framing shop has been fined on at least three occasions for ‘peeling paint’ and a ‘missing downspout’.

        The property immediately next to his has at least 6 highly visible violations and has never once received so much as a warning.

        I opened two CSB tickets myself about Powell Square while it was still standing. Both were closed without (valid) explanation and no fines were levied in spite of the state of the building.

        How long will we allow this to go on? It’s so deeply entrenched that I don’t even know where best to apply pressure. Also, I know full well that if I do try to do anything, the building inspector(s) and/or revenue collector will show at my door (this is the voice of experience speaking).

  • Michael Powers

    I see no PMC (Property Maint Code) violations for 1001 S. Grand since 2001, when it was under different ownership. Looks like they haven’t been cited. #MP

  • wimp

    thank god they plan to plant grass, just what we need!

  • guest

    Can we get another response from Joe Roddy on this? I’d love to hear his rationale (or excuses?) as to why nothings happened yet.

  • T-Leb

    Pictures tell a story that doesn’t need much explanation. The pictures speak more than the excuses from SLU, the silence from StL City…

    • dempster holland

      This tale shows how the city treats some property owners different
      than others. Anyone else who owned a small two family would have
      been in housing court by now–except for st louis u and the st louis
      cardinals with ballpark village. What i can’t figure how is why st
      louis u started its a demolition without already having arrangements
      for hauling away debris. I dont think anyone operates that way

      • imran

        I think they are trying force the owners of the neighboring Belting Company building to sell that property to SLU. Make the area so uninviting that your neighbor just gives up. I hope the owners stand up to SLU. I hope for a day in the future when the Pevely building would have outlasted Biondi.

        • Alex Ihnen

          You’ll know that’s true when the Belting Building owner starts to be cited for weeds and peeling paint. 🙂

          Edit: Actually there are Citizen Service Bureau reports on the Pevely debris from 1/24, 2/13, 4/9 and 6/5/13. All are labeled as being closed (completed or resolved). The Belting building has a CSB complaint for debris from 2/7/13.

  • Devin R

    Thank you! Thank you for writing this post. I drive by this every day, and every day I just get mad. SLU was in such a hurry to tear down that smokestack and get rid of the building, but how can anyone say that a pile of rubble looks better than an abandoned warehouse on the historic register. The fines question is a great one, but are they really going to ever have to pay them? I doubt it. SLU isn’t going to be going anywhere, so it would be nice if the city didn’t give in to its empty threats and actually put their toes to the fire. Get it cleaned up and actually build something useful there. It’s such a depressing corner in the middle of their campus. Captain Dee’s, empty lot, and rubble pile on 3 of the 4 corners. Talk about an attraction for the students…

  • Concerned citizen

    I actually called the City building department to complain about this last week (week of September 9). I was informed that the city had opened a file on it, but had closed te complaint file because “construction” was underway. Unbelievable.

    • John R

      I did see that something was done near the site with maybe some public utility and dirt moving work before Labor Day but it appeared to be outside the perimeter. Anyway, I wonder if it would do any good to have mass complaints to the Citizens Service Bureau. I think they need a specific address.