Demo Alert: 5200 Cates

The Grim Reaper has been spotted lurking outside 5200 Cates at Clarendon Ave in the Academy neighborhood. An appeal of the denial of a demolition permit is on the preliminary agenda of the Preservation Board’s March 22nd meeting. It is located in the Mount Cabanne Raymond Place Historic District. National Register of Historic Places application from 2002 (numerous photos at the end).

The 4,000 square foot lot would likely be nothing for a long time. It’s much too small for a gas station, drive thru coffee shop, or some other low-productivity auto-oriented land use. Perhaps a little park-like something as part of the greenway might be a good use, though there are vacant lots along the route already for something like that. A neighborhood-scaled business would be great for the blocks surrounding and greenway users alike. The building’s mixed-use configuration offers the opportunity for a live-work housing option.

Mount Cabanne Raymond Place Historic District
5200 Cates from the National Register application c. 2002

The building is triangle shaped in deference to the Suburban Tracks right-of-way. The ROW hosted the Hodiamont Streetcar line, the last of the streetcar lines, until it was shut down in 1966. After the #15 Hodiamont bus line ran on the ROW until it was discontinued in 2009. I guess it was BRT! Great Rivers Greenways is in the planning phase of turning it into a greenway.

Nextstl – Ridin’ the Hodiamont and Streetcars of St. Louis: Two Videos of the Streetcar’s Last Days

Stltoday – May 21, 1966: The end of the line for streetcars in St. Louis

GRG
Suburban Track from Pictorial St. Louis, Compton and Dry, 1876 with highlight by GRG

Emmanuel DeHodiamont completed his stone farm house in 1830 and later sold the property to real estate developers in 1871. Their plan was to improve transportation between St. Louis and Florissant by constructing a small-gauge railroad. The railroad was located along the southern boundary of the 57- acre DeHodiamont Property. The land around the original farm house was subdivided into “Maryville.” The streets within this new suburban tract were named for popular street trees; the original farm house now faces Maple Street.

The train was in operation by 1875 and demand grew quickly. By 1892 it was electrified and ran between St. Louis and Florissant. As St. Louisans became increasingly mobile, the Tracks changed from streetcars to buses in the 1960s. The last bus ran on t he Tracks in 2009 and since that time the corridor has operated mostly as an alley to service adjacent residential properties.

GRG Draft Report on Existing Condition’s and Analysis

Along with the greenway potentially coming there have been other recent investments in Academy. Three blocks to the south at Delmar the MADE makerspace and the Magic House’s MADE for Kids opened recently in long vacant buildings. There have also been a few rehabs of houses in the neighborhood.

Corner buildings like 5200 Cates are crucial to creating and serving walkable neighborhoods with more likely locally-owned businesses. In both respects they help build wealth and keep it within neighborhoods. Further erosion of our built environment would be must regrettable and a determent to improving the neighborhood.

Update 3/20/2021 – 5200 Cates is not on the final agenda for the Preservation Board’s March 22nd meeting. I hope this means good news.