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Preservation groups to show San Luis Apartments some love

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Preservation groups will be asking residents of the Central West End to "show some love" to a building in danger of demolition.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis plans to tear down the San Luis Apartments at Lindell and Taylor to create more parking space for the Cathedral Basilica and Rosati-Kain High School.

"Friends of the San Luis" co-founder Randy Vines says plans for the Valentine's Day rally include flowers, hugs, and declarations of love for the building written in sidewalk chalk.

"Tearing down buildings for parking lots is a failed development model that we've seen ply out in St. Louis and other cities," Vines said. "It really destroys the fabric that keeps neighborhoods vital, and is the ultimate waste of urban space."

Vines says developers have expressed interest in rehabbing the building, which opened as the DeVille Motor Hotel in 1963. They would face restrictions from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because of the building's recent use as senior housing. HUD has given the Archdiocese permission to tear down the building, but any structure built on the site would face a review from HUD. The city has not yet issued a demolition permit.

Vines says he's tired of people believing that only turn-of-the-century buildings are worth saving.

" This building represents an era of architecture that is really uncommon in the Midwest, and with a little vision and imagination, it could be a very sexy, sleek and beautiful addition to the Lindell streetscape," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese says the Archdiocese has no plans to sell the property to a developer. She says an architect working with the Archdiocese believes it would be too expensive to make the existing structure usable again.