ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–On the same morning that NASA hurled its final Space Shuttle mission into orbit, the St. Louis Board of Alderman launched a bill that critics fear could make it easier to knock down the Del Taco flying saucer building on Grand Avenue.
The 15-to-9 vote came on the final day of what has been an alienating season for the board — with tense public hearings over scrap metal thieves, stray dogs and the Del Taco building, a whimsical mid-century mother ship that landed near St. Louis University.
Supporters of the bill point out that it only gives the developer a ten-year tax abatement and blights the property — it does not give permission to demolish the structure.
But those who voted no argue that the bill contains no language to block future demolition. Knocking down the building would require additional hearings and approval before a cultural resources board.
Among those voting no was Alderwoman Jennifer Florida. “I’m not sure that this developer has a vision for re-investing in this property,” Florida said, “That’s my tension.”
Freshman Alderman Scott Ogilvie also voted no, saying the whole Del Taco process was a close encounter with aldermanic culture.
“You’ve got the issue of too much aldermanic courtesy ,” Ogilvie said, “You got an issue of sometimes we’re a little too generous with developers, and since we don’t have particularly strong zoning controls, we need to use the incentives to get the best projects we can get.”
In other business, the board also passed the ten-year ward redistricting plan without discussion. Due to the sweltering hot chambers, which past boards have resisted any attempt to air condition, the 28 Aldermen are now adjourned on summer break. They will return September 16th.