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  • Catching Up on Demolitions

    Posted on November 13th, 2013 Toby Weiss 1 comment

    strike and spare 2013 01

    We last checked in with the Strike ‘n Spare Lanes on North Lindbergh in December of 2011. Read about it here. And above is what the property looked like on October 16, 2013. But pull back the lens from this view and here’s the big picture:

    strike and spare 2013 02

    I know Spirtas is trying to be clever, but their sense of humor is like a flat keg of beer. Why even bother – they got the job?

    strike and spare 2013 03

    And here’s where they were on the first weekend of November 2013. As bad as their humor is, they are an efficient demolition company, so the job is probably clear by this time. But it was bittersweet to traipse around the last remnants, peering into the snack bar kitchen one last time…

    strike and spare 2013 04

    There’s still a For Sale sign out front of the property, so are we assuming they’re making the land more desirable for a buyer? If anyone has any info about future plans for this site, please do share in the comments.

    natural bridghe bank 01

    6149 Natural Bridge Road in Pine Lawn,MO
    And this was the big surprise of fall – the building shown above is completely gone. Well, some remnants remain (below), and the bricks are being neatly palatalized, but essentially, it’s just gone. Here’s a rendering of it back in the day when it was Pine Lawn Bank.

    natural bridge bank 02

    Pine Lawn mayor Sylvester Caldwell put up a billboard at the end of this now-empty block. It reads:

    “You Can See the Difference… You Can Tell the Difference. Mayor Sylvester Caldwell Presents… The Pine Lawn Board of Alderman Welcomes… New Retail Development. Coming to Pine Lawn FALL 2013.
    JOBS… JOBS… JOBS… FOR THE PEOPLE OF PINE LAWN!!!”

    naural bridge at jennings sta

    Here’s what the block looked like lately. Seems the bank building, erected in 1920, went first. Here’s a more poetic look from Built St. Louis.

    natural bridge bank 03

    And here’s the latest at the intersection of Natural Bridge Road at Kienlen/Jennings Station Road. I wonder if the very corner building is also coming down. If it’s a clean sweep for new retail, it would make sense to remove it. But I cannot find any information about what the billboard promises, in the news media or on the Pine Lawn website. So some more history of the northern inner ring suburbs just disappears without a second thought. Here’s hoping it’s been demolished for something better.

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  • Why’d Ya Tear It Down?

    Posted on January 12th, 2010 Toby Weiss 6 comments

    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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  • The Stone House Lives

    Posted on October 18th, 2009 Toby Weiss 6 comments

    stone-house-01

    Where North Highway 67 ends
    North St. Louis County, MO

    This is a picture of the very last house on the south side of Hwy 67.  It’s past Jamestown Mall, but several yards before the mighty street comes to a whimpering end before a forest.   I always thought this little stone house – built in 1948 – was so charming and so intriguing.  There’s no front yard, but a little over 2 acres of backyard.  But the feature that always caught my imagination was the outdoor terrace created in the space between the house and tiny garage.

    stone-house-02

    I was both fascinated and jealous when passing by and catching someone using that special spot; how lucky were they?

    In 2007, it became apparent the place was empty, and considering how developers were angling to obliterate every inch of greenery for a slight variation on the same retail they had just 15 miles down the road, I figured this place was toast.  But when driving by yesterday, I saw two men working on the house.  They were installing the new fascia you see in these photos.  And then I noticed it was a new roof, as well, and that the LLC who bought the place would only do something like that if they planned to sell it as a viable, 1,389 s.f. home that someone would be happy to live in.

    Consider that homes even more substantial and younger than this get sold as teardowns, and understand why my heart burst with happiness over the sight of men fixing this house for its future.  They think it’s perfectly natural to save and re-use this little stone house, those lovable, wacky kids!

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