Catching Up on Demolitions

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:

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Goodbye to Strike ‘N Spare Bowling Lanes

Strike ‘N Spare Lanes
Schuetz Road & North Lindbergh
St. Louis County, MO

I awoke Thanksgiving morning to an email that the Strike ‘N Spare Lanes building and land was up for lease. Here’s a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.  I didn’t even know it had closed, reportedly on this past Labor Day weekend.

The property is – and always has been – owned by the Jewish Community Center, which is located right behind this property. AMF has been leasing the building for the past 10 years or so, though it has operated as Strike ‘N Spare since the building opened in late 1961/early 1962.

The article states that the 5.3 acres of land and 49,887 s.f. building is being offered at $19,166 a month rent, and that it’s also “being marketed as a site for a new bowling alley or a site of multiple uses, including a bank, convenience store or gas station.”

From a real estate point of view, this intersection in an unincorporated bit of northwest St. Louis County – nestled between Overland and Creve Coeur – would be a prime property. But topographically, it’s far from ideal for something as traffic-dependent as a convenience store or gas station.

Take a look at the photo above; I am only half way down the hill this bowling alley sits atop of. It’s a very steep incline, a feature the original designers of this building took advantage of. Because as you whizz by down below on Lindbergh, your eye is caught by a bright loop-dee-loop seemingly floating atop a mountain.  I think we all understand the psychology of drivers, and if you are at all familiar with this stretch of road, can you imagine the average driver making the trek up the hill from Lindbergh to get some gas and Beef Jerky? Would they consider that truly convenient?

Because of the lay of the land, whatever goes in the existing building or new structures that may appear must be a distinct destination.  A commenter in an August 21st post of Berger’s Beat types confident that apartments or condos will be on that property within a year. That makes complete sense, as everything in the immediate area behind this property is either apartments, commercial or industrial.

But it would be so much better for someone to re-use this building, don’t you think?  Another bowling alley would be excellent, but what about a church? Today’s modern congregations seem to favor more s.f. for socializing and entertainment than they do a chapel. I’d also like to see it be an Ikea….. just had to throw that in there.

When I took these photos in the summer of 2006, I was worried then that something bad was happening to the place because of the yellow “do not cross” tape. But it turns out they were pouring new sidewalks, and doing some exterior repairs and upkeep. AMF took good care of this building, and it’s only been vacant for a few months, so it’s safe to say it’s still sound.

And it sure is, um, striking, with classic mid-century modern lines and materials. And let’s not overlook the glamor of that Googie roof line. And it’s those very features that give it a 50/50 chance for survival. That means the glass is half full, and let’s hope for the best.