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  • Why’d Ya Tear It Down?

    Posted on January 12th, 2010 Toby Weiss 6 comments
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    former-commerce-bank

    475 N. Lindbergh
    Florissant MO

    This building was always a bank, as long as I can remember from growing up in North St. Louis County.  In December of 2001 I snapped this quick picture as I waited in traffic, as a visual reminder to go back and photograph it properly at a later date.  I like round buildings, in general, and I liked how this one’s roundness was composed of blonde brick panels with long, skinny windows between.  It was a low-key but slightly whimsical building.

    Since taking this photo, I’d passed the bank many times, but conditions were always wrong for photos.  One brilliant spring day in 2007, I was back in the area and thought, “This is the day to shoot the round bank building!” But no, it was gone.  All that remained was a busted up blacktop parking lot and a round hole where the building was.  This is the only photo I have, the only reminder.

    Now here it is, almost 3 years later, and Desco still has a For Sale sign up on an ugly, busted up blacktop property, with a listing price of $1.7 million.

    The building was torn down and the property put up for sale well before the real estate meltdown, so that excuse for its vacancy is only 18 months old, at best .  And I’m assuming Desco figured it would be easier to sell property in this dense retail corridor without the building on it.

    It’s always been expensive to build new buildings, which is why – in the current financial climate – many companies are happy to convert existing retail/commercial buildings to their needs.  And it has always been expensive to demolish a building of this size, but in happier economic times, realtors could afford to gamble on a bigger gain by clearing a property.

    But in this case, the gamble has yet to pay off, and I wonder if Desco had left that unique bank building in place if maybe someone in today’s climate would have been more willing to take it at a reduced price and remodel to suit?

    Our recession is teaching everyone a lot about thrift, sustainability, resources and conservation.  It now seems shockingly wasteful to demolish a perfectly serviceable building in hopes of landing a buyer with really deep pockets for acquisition and construction.  Especially in the case of this property, which  – because it has neighbors on all sides – can only accommodate a small-to-medium sized building, much like the one that was once there.

    I do miss the building, and do hope that Desco and their ilk contemplate the proverb: Waste Not, Want Not.

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    6 Responses to “Why’d Ya Tear It Down?”

    1. Another visionless waste.

    2. I don’t know. Just seems typical of the American (capitalist) viewpoint with regards to value. I’m reminded of the quote attributed to Oscar Wilde: “We know the price of everything, and the value of nothing”.

    3. Upon further reflection, I believe he may have said “cost of everything”.

    4. They had a word: architecture. They had a focus: people.
      Now, it is called a sales unit and there are no people.

    5. What a waste! The materials which made up this building now lay in a landfill. And an attractive mid century modern building is gone. There is a new appreciation for buildings of this style and this era, 1950′s-1960′s. The elegant simplicity of this architectural style represents an era of progressive forward thinking design and universal appeal. This building would have been readily adaptable to any variety of re use. Sadly in this country we are all too quick to dispose of our architectural heritage.

    6. Library, Community Center, Art Gallery, Theater, Shared Office Space, Retail….

      oh well.

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