Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mixed Feelings in South City

Ahrens Demolition and Excavation recently started demolishing the formerly City owned Truman Restorative Center on Arsenal just east of Hampton. The site will be turned into a new subdivision of 36 single family homes, and 22 villas. I am certainly happy to see the investment in the area, and I welcome the new residents, but I can't help feeling that this could have been better.

First, The Truman Center was a cool building in it's own way. If it was in the middle of downtown, I don't know if I would care for it, but in it's context, I really like it. Why couldn't the large open areas of land around it be developed, and the current building be renovated for condos or apartments? I understand that may not be completely feasible, but why can't we at least have something a little better than a suburban development plopped down in the city.

This brings me to my second point. What is the obsession in St. Louis of putting brick fronts on otherwise completely siding houses. Who are developers trying to fool? The brick stands out like a sore thumb. Or is it the vinyl? I guess it's the whole mess of materials. Whatever it is, it should not be done. Image hosted by Photobucket.comOne material or the other. Vinyl can look good if it is covering the entire house, and the house has the correct architectural style. Likewise, brick should cover an entire house when it is used on the front. I curently split my time at work between a beautiful urban location on Grand by Carondolet Park and (shudder) Arnold. While the Arnold/Imperial area has some atrocious suburban abominations, I have noticed many new houses out there that are completely brick. If developers can do it in Arnold, why can't we build all brick houses in the city? The new homes will also have garages in the front with driveways. Hopefully the shrines to SUV's will not be used as the main architectural feature on the front of the houses.

I guess only time will tell how this development goes, but it's not a good start. Homes starting in the $290's should be nicer.


Anonymous said...

Truman's context includes Park Hampton Estates to the east. These are late 80s/early 90s vinyl-clad, minimal brick ornament, 3-bedroom/2.5-bath homes with 2-car attached garages facing the street, double-wide driveways and all. Currently, a handful are for sale in this older subdivision immediately east of the sales office on the Truman property. They range in price from $240k to $275k, not bad considering next door, new homes will start at a base shell of $290k. said...

Thanks for the Brick & Vinyl rant!
I couldn't agree more, and have kevetched about it previously:

She Dances in Dragon said...

I'm in complete agreement with your brick and vinyl point. A brick facade on a vinyl clad building looks like the construction companies were trying to save money, as if no one would buy a new brick building in the city. Yet they throw on the brick front and declare that their architecture "compliments the neighborhood"
It's not a compliment. It's an eyesore.
Thanks for youe new blog, and thanks for giving me the space to rant.