Sowing Insolvency at 800 S 7th

Sowing Insolvency at 800 S 7th

The area south of the highway downtown has long been choking on parking and automobile infrastructure. It become a little more asphyxiated recently with the demolition of 800 S 7th Street once home to The Bird House STL later called The Batter’s Box Sports Bar. Terrence McDonald of 800 4th Street LLC and The Dent Devil of St. Louis in Ballwin, in response to an inquiry to buy it, asked an extraordinary amount for the building before razing it. Another property he owns is listed for sale at 800 S 4th Street, a parking lot with highway views for $3.6M or $4.1M per acre. Meanwhile the Assessor assesses it at $162k per acre.

The loss is regrettable. Loss of character, Americana, whatever you call it. An authentic gathering spot for pregaming. A place. The loss of fine-grained walkable built environment, aka CITY. I’d wager that there is low likelihood that anything will be built here any time soon given an asking price akin to 800 S 4th’s. The parcel is too small and oddly shaped for a five-over-one apartment building, a gas station, a car wash, or a drive thru coffee shop. Well maybe drive thru coffee if combined with the parcels to the east.

Then there’s the loss of tax base. The assessed value per acre in 2020 was $1M. Plus whatever tax base might come from an operating business in the building. The parking lots to the east are assessed at $140k per acre. The amount of infrastructure we’ve promised to provide in the area has remained unchanged. The rest of the tax base is obligated to make up for it. We’re spread more thin, more house poor. This is how you sow insolvency.

What could have been done to stymie the demolition? The area could have been put into a Preservation Review District, which is the lowest rung of preservation protection. The demolition permit would have gone to the Cultural Resources Office. It’s up to the alderperson to put forth a bill to the BoA to create a district, in this case Ald. Coatar.


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