Monday, September 11, 2006

STL Rising-What Would You Preserve??

In a region bestowed with so much rich architectural heritage, there is a constant debate over preservation.

While STL Rising is all about the growth and renaissance of St. Louis, we won't be successful in our renaissance if we lose our unique STL identity.

However, sometimes there are tradeoffs which take us forward. The demolition of old Busch into Busch III and Ballpark Village is a good example.

Without Busch III, many believe that downtown STL would have lost the Cardinals. Instead, we are now on the threshold of seeing $1,000,000,000 in new development downtown on the site of old Busch and a massive surface parking lot.

On the other hand, many of us were very saddened to see the demolition of the old Arena. Some advocated for a plan at the site of the "Old Barn" that would have combined new construction with preservation of the landmark sports arena.

This weekend, we enjoyed some local ethnic flavor at the annual Polish Festival in North St. Louis. Just across the back fence from the Polish Falcons picnic area is a severly deteriorated building. Based on many years' returns to the Polish Festival, the forlorn building has stood there mostly unattended to, year after year.

At this year's event, I overheard one of the seasoned patrons of the Festival talking about moving the event to some different location. For me, when it comes to preservation, I care less about the future of the nearly collapsing building behind the Polish Falcon's back fence, than I do about seeing the annual festival remain at its St. Louis Avenue location for generations to come.

In St. Louis, we are an interesting mosaic of differing ideas and perceptions. There may be no other topic that generates so many varied perspectives than the preservation and redevelopment of older sites. What's your take?

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