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City lawmaker plots demolition review changes after soccer stadium controversy

Currently, the director must refer only demolition applications for buildings designated as "high merit" in preservation review districts
Credit: SLBJ
A view of the proposed MLS stadium from 20th and Market streets.

ST. LOUIS — A city of St. Louis lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would change how certain demolitions are approved after a pair of controversies, including buildings in Downtown West that are falling for soccer stadium surface parking.

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia said she would introduce a bill next week that would force the director of the city's Cultural Resources Office to refer certain demolition applications to the city's nine-member Preservation Board.

Currently, the director must refer only demolition applications for buildings designated as "high merit" in preservation review districts, areas in which the Board of Aldermen has determined "demolition review is in the public interest." The director alone can OK demolitions for other types of structures, described as "qualifying" and "merit" buildings, in unusual circumstances.

Ingrassia said her legislation, at a minimum, would force the director to also refer merit buildings to the Preservation Board.

"We want to make sure there are protections in place when situations come up like the ones surrounding the (Major League Soccer) stadium and 201 S. Jefferson," Ingrassia said.

In both cases, Cultural Resources Office Director Dan Krasnoff, part of Mayor Lyda Krewson's administration, OK'd demolitions without consulting the Preservation Board, as current law allows.

In a presentation to the Preservation Board earlier this month, Krasnoff said he approved demolition of the soccer-affected properties, 1900-12 Olive St. and 1901 Pine St., for various reasons.

For example, he called some "not particularly noteworthy for architecture or design," and cited a nearby block of mostly vacant buildings, posing questions about whether the affected structures could otherwise be redeveloped. 

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