ST. LOUIS — From the front, Dr. K. James McCaskill takes great pride in his church.
“It has that Montessori look, and that’s how it looks on the inside. This church is more than 100 years old,” he said.
But go to the side and the back of Morning Star Mission Baptist, and you’ll see a neighboring property that’s nothing to be proud of.
“You have to be careful and watch out for the bricks. It takes away from everything,” McCaskill said.
In fact, he told 5 On Your Side he and other members of his congregation are downright scared of it.
“I am worrying about those bricks falling and hurting someone,” he said.
In 2006, when it was last sold, the vacant property was far from perfect. But it was mostly still standing intact with boarded up windows.
Fast forward more than 10 years later and now the roof is caved in with bricks spilling over everywhere, including the alley the house shares with the church. Both are located in the 2600 block of Cool Papa.
“There was no type of upkeep maintained. That opens the door for a lot of other troubles you can have in the community,” McCaskill said.
But for the church, this issue is more than just an eyesore.
“What if it collapses and hits the church? Who’s going to fix that?” McCaskill pondered.
He worries someone, or his building could be damaged, hurt or worse.
“Considering the fact those are bricks, we all know someone can easily be killed,” he said.
That’s why he believes the city should tear it down.
“I think the code enforcement from the City of St. Louis should either tear it down or lose it. Like the walls of Jericho, let it fall. Let it fall flat,” he said.
But demolition really isn’t up to the city currently.
The vacant property is owned by controversial developer Paul McKee’s Northside Generation LLC. Yet, like so many of the properties he promised to develop in north city more than a decade ago, as a way to spur jobs and economic growth, he hasn’t.
And just like this dilapidated house, many have fallen into disrepair and have become magnets for crime and other neighborhood problems.
The city is in the process of undoing its development agreement with McKee through the courts, though. In the meantime, the city can now fine McKee for property violations.
He told 5 On Your Side he is in the process of acquiring a demolition permit to tear down the house next to the church.