Do The Math: Lemay Demo

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}