Do The Math: Lemay Demo

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If this kind of analysis excites you, it’s similar to what a firm called Urban3 out of Asheville, NC led by Joe Minicozzi does. We’re trying to get them to do an analysis of St. Louis. That takes considerable funding. If that’s something you’re interested in helping with please email me at richard at

{700 Block of Lemay Ferry Road – Google Streetview}

The Grim Reaper constantly lurks in our city, threatening to destroy the productive development patterns of the past with the scythe of 20th century ideas of progress. Before doing more of the same, let’s do the math!

LEMAY DEVELOMENT CORPORATION Demolition and Abatement of: 700-702 Lemay Ferry, 704/710/716 Lemay Ferry, 706 Lemay Ferry Road & 701 Regina, 718 Lemay Ferry & 815 Horn, 707 Regina, 738 Bayless, 740 Bayless, 742 Bayless, Lemay, MO

The demolition area is the 700 block of Lemay Ferry Road at Bayless and the houses behind. All the buildings were built before WWII. The oldest is from 1904. The 1.73 acre site, zoned C-2 has been offered for redevelopment for two years. There is no plan for redevelopment in place. The old and blighted block is being razed in hopes that the shiny and new will come.

{Area slated for demolition – Google Maps}

As it developed this area would most certainly have been annexed by the City of St. Louis, if it took less than a vote of the entirety of St. Louis City and St. Louis County to add one acre of land to the city. It is unincorporated, thus receives municipal services from St. Louis County. If a part of the city, it might be in a preservation review area.

The site is a Taco John’s in the making.

Lemey Ferry is a state-subsidized stroad. The traditional building pattern on the block is incompatible with the goals of a road- providing a high level of service (high volumes at high speed) to autos. The corner building offers bad sight lines at Bayless. There is no on-street parking; people park on the sidewalk. Access for anyone not in a car is unpleasant as well. The old buildings have little chance of succeeding in this environment- they are meant for a street. Lemay Ferry is a part of the secondary system of road maintenance in the Missouri 325 Plan. Perhaps St. Louis County should take over this part of the road and focus on making a street to add value to the buildings it serves.

Lemay Demo Heat Map

The parcels are owned by Lemay Ferry Redevelopment Inc LLC with total Assessed value of $206,650 on 1.45 acres (There’s more in the alleys), or $142,517 per acre. The houses lag while the commercial buildings are above average. The biggest loser while it is an empty lot will be the property tax funded Hancock Place School District.

The lowest bid for the demo was $108,000. What could be done to the buildings and surroundings for that amount to make the existing buildings attractive for rehab and reuse? Similar buildings in Maplewood are 2-3 time higher in assessed value per acre. That performance requires creating a place people want to be rather than one to drive through.. Add sidewalks with curbs, trees, street parking? Demo one house for parking? Replace the houses with new ones? Do one of the most challenging improvements needed at the buildings like a sewer redo or new roof? Offer a facade makeover to a committed tenant? Replace one of the smallest buildings or a parking lots across Lemay with something more productive as catalyst for the others?

In other words we should think of cultivation rather than demo and hope. Identifying and executing the least costly but most impactful actions will have a higher return on investment than demo for an empty lot. A replacement that is of higher productivity than the potential of what is existing is unlikely given that they environs undermine the current development pattern. More likely is a Taco John’s-type low-productivity development that has no chance of lasting 100 years and will see its best day on its first day. Unfortunately the development trajectory of the area is towards a West Florissant. This demolition will further that trend.

Lemay Ferry Redevelopment Inc is seeking ideas for development. Contact Donna Baringer at [email protected] to inquire.

Update: Gone
Lemay Demo Satellite 2016{After demolition – Google Maps}

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  • Bebop

    I have one correction for you, the Hancock Place school district’s primary source of operating revenue is actually the state and federal government at 49.9% per their 2012-2013 district report. They are funded 48.8% thru local property taxes with River City coming in at 49% of that source of revenue. I’m guessing you said it’s locally funded thru property taxes since there has been a lot said here recently with Lindbergh being 92% self funded. It’s really confusing here since every district is funded totally different.

    • rgbose

      How did they make ends meet before the casino? They have a much bigger concern than this block of buildings if it were to go belly up!

      • Alex Ihnen

        Just wait until Chesterfield gets an outlet mall Bass Pro Shop casino development!

        • Bebop

          Cape Girardeau got they final gaming license 5 years ago, but stranger things have happened so I wouldn’t say it could never happen!

      • Bebop

        I’m guessing the state and Feds. It’s a very low income household area so most students qualify for free & reduced lunch, various grants, Title 1 etc. It’s also a very tiny district with 111 in the 2013 graduating class. The casino was also perfect timing as it came in right around the recession. I’m not sure of the specifics but I know part of River City’s deal was to pay for the new Lemay aquatic center and a specific local school district support so I don’t know if they have an endowment fund established in case the casino does go belly up or what. I would love to see you guys to a breakdown on how much each area district get from local taxpayers / state money / fed money. The state isn’t funding a lot of our area schools at the level they were before the recession and they sure as heck aren’t funding MODOT and other infastructure so I would love to bring more awareness to this!

        • rgbose

          Had the same idea. Nice that Hancock puts out that report, makes it easy!

  • JZ71

    I drive by this corner every day that I go to work. I agree with why the structures are blighted, and why they probably should be torn down, but I also see little demand for new commercial, here, either – damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Unless CVS decides to go up against Walgreens, most any other auto-centric business would want to be either farther south or farther west, closer to I-55.

  • jhoff1257

    “There is no plan for redevelopment in place. The old and blighted block is being razed in hopes that the shiny and new will come.”

    If I had a nickel for every time I heard these words uttered from a clueless official in either the City or County, I’d have enough money to rebuild all of the North Side.

  • tbatts666

    Orderly, but stupid.

    Let’s hope the people pushing this “blighted” nonsense see this article!

    Thanks mr Bose, you are my hero!