Zoning Change Request for Southern Funeral Home Property

A bit over year ago, we were talking about the Southern Funeral Home being for sale. And there were rumors that it was to be torn down to build a Dollar General.

Turns out those rumors are actually true, and on January 18, 2012 at 1:30 PM in Room 208 of City Hall, they are meeting to consider Dollar General’s request to change zoning and add parking and a trash enclosure.  Details of the meeting are on the top right side of page 3 of this pdf.

The latest news in the neighborhood is that – right across the street from Southern – the Foodland grocery store (above) at South Grand & Iron is closing by the end of January. The steep discounting of inventory has already begun, and those without a car who rely on this store are bumming out.

But the big, logical question is:
Why would Dollar General want to pay for demolition of an old building and construction a new building, when they could move into the Foodland building right across the street?

They would be in the same exact location they want. The parking they need is already in place. And it’s all the square footage they could ever need – maybe even too much, which brings up interesting rental potentials.  And there is already a successful precedent for this idea in the general area.

At Morganford & River Des Peres, Dollar Tree moved into this old National Supermarket.  Faced with a 15,010 s.f. building, they sublet the back half to a plumbing supply company.

In the South St. Louis County areas where Dollar General currently resides, they are renting space within strip malls. But if they are deciding to build a free-standing building in the City boundaries, than can we assume they want something roughly the size of the existing Southern Funeral Home building, which is 10,136 s.f.?

The Foodland building – which was previously a Schnucks supermarket – is 34,003 s.f. That leaves plenty of room to rent space to other tenants.  Other Dollar Generals are used to sharing space in strip malls, but this way, they’d own the building and make some extra money. And they’d be able to begin making money right after they do some remodeling, which is definitely cheaper than demolition and new construction.

Dollar General rethinking their plans to move into the Foodland building would still put them right where they wish to be while saving some money.  Plus, Foodland is already zoned the way they want it. This would also spare the Southern Funeral Home to find a more sympathetic owner who would use it for a greater good.

What would be the downside to this idea? And is there a chance that Dollar General could reconsider?

UPDATE: At the January 18, 2012 meeting, Dollar General withdrew their proposal to demolish from the Preservation Board’s monthly agenda.

Southern Funeral Home For Sale

S. Grand & Iron
South St. Louis, MO

The palatial hacienda-style funeral home with “that sign” is now for sale.

This building is absolutely gorgeous, in whole and for its details. The funeral home (read its history here) started in 1908, and they moved into this building in 1929, which was built for them, and is supposedly the first St. Louis structure made expressly for a funeral home.

I’ve always been fond of the mid-century rear addition, loving the juxtaposition between eras. Plus, how can you not love the reiteration of their logo in giant, 3-D (below)?

Take a look at the real estate listing. They’re asking only $375,000 for this massive building, which also includes 2 apartments. I ran into the family that were living in the place until recently, when they had to find a new place to live because the place is for sale. There was a language barrier preventing me from getting any details from them, because I wanted to ask the little boy just how was it living in a funeral parlor. Seems like something a kid would dig, right?

Take a close look at the photos on the property listing. There’s a beautiful chapel inside with a stage and seating for more than 200 people. It’s in a commercial district and has tons of parking.

This building is crying out to be a concert club. Think about it: music and food, the owner can live above the business. Because it’s by Carondelet Park, it’s easy to get to from Hwy 55.
So, do we yet have anyone inspired to do something with this fabulous place?