Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Need and Not Have"

They say it's always better to "have and not need" than to "need and not have".

There's one thing we could use in St. Louis that at the present time is definitely in the "need and not have" category.

St. Louis is a place known for its wealth of architectural assets. Some of them are in need of emergency stabilization. Unfortunately, there is no fund designated for emergency stabilization of historic structures.

While there are many old buildings that make sense to demolish [if you don't believe me, let's take a tour sometime and you can draw your own conclusions..], there are many others worth preserving.

Some are important contributing structures located in St. Louis historic districts. Without a ready source of emergency stabilization funds, we wind up losing some of these important buildings.

With a wide variety of opinions, we've discussed donating funds to different sorts of nonprofit organizations. Would you consider making cash donations to an organization whose sole purpose was to award emergency stabilization funds for preserving historically significant buildings?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This has been looked at before, but has never been pursued.

Who would administer it?

Who would decide where the money goes?

How do you work with an uncooperative property owner?

It sounds like a good idea, but it doesn't seem very workable.

Has this been done in other places?

If this is doable, then why hasn't the Landmarks Association already created such a fund?

Michael Allen said...

Good ideas, Rick.

Anonymous, we should talk.

A preservation fund is a good idea, but more enticing is an organization willing to both stabilize crumbling building and plot their reuse. Through CONECT, RHCDA is pioneering that approach.

To some extent, even if Landmarks bought buildings, it would have to develop them or quickly sell them to a developer -- in other words, come up with a development plan.

The other option that has been tried is the landbanking that the LRA does (mostly involuntarily). There's no reason for Landmarks to do something similar, even on a small scale. Without plans, the buildings probably would fall down.

However, a fund that would pay for acquisition, emergency repairs and marketing of buildings could be useful. That is what Rick is suggesting. While I would rather RHCDA find a billion dollars and get rolling, a fund that could get buildings out of bad ownership and into good hands would be a boon to the city.