Monday, June 30, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 116

  • 2911 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (Sheridan Place LLC, January 2007, $65,000)

May 2008

It's a tiny little cottage... amid a long row of larger buildings.

The neighbors shown here are all JVL Renaissance properties, all in excellent repair, just as I've come to expect from that company. Contrast that with the battered little Blairmont cottage, at far left, and you get an idea of what it means to be a good and a bad neighbor.

The cottage was occupied as recently as 2000, when the city issued a permit to erect a chain link fence. Blairmont also owns a vacant lot next door.

Further west on the same block, we've got...

    Left to right:
  • 2947 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (N & G Ventures LLC, August 2004)
  • 2945 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (LRA)
  • 2943 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (VHS Partners LLC, August 2005, $30,000)
  • 2939 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (VHS Partners LLC, August 2005, $30,000)

May 2008

Four addresses, three of which are behind one facade. Blairmont's got three of the four.

Mansard roof and crumbling brickwork on 2947.

Left to right: 2945, 2943, 2939.

The vacant land to the west is half LRA, half Blairmont.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 115

  • 2709 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (MLK 3000 LLC, October 2006, $100,000)

May 2008

This Blairmont house is surrounded by two owner-occupied houses, another privately owned house, and one LRA building.

Price bounce: Sold in March 2006 for $50,000. Six months later, the price had magically DOUBLED; it sold for $100,000 in October.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 114

  • 2701 Blair Street (Dodier Investors LLC, November 2006, $30,000)

May 2008

It stands depressingly close to the heart of Old North St. Louis, just a short walk from Crown Candy Kitchen and the 14th Street Mall, currently under reconstruction. But nothing's happening here. Paul McKee has sat on this building, and many other Old North properties, for years now, as redevelopment surges around and past him.

Built in 1873 per city records online, it has been empty since 2000. The roof is severely deteriorated; the porches are gone. Even if Paul McKee agrees to sell it off, it will require considerable (possibly total) reconstruction. If McKee had done basic maintenance, the job might not be so daunting. Even if a renovation becomes possible, getting funding in place will take time, a further delay incurred by McKee's blockbusting tactics.

November 2007

Price bounce: Sold in October 2006 for $25,000; sold again in November 2006 for $30,000.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 113

  • 2912 Hebert Street (Blairmont Associates LLC, February 2006, $25,000)

May 2008

This house, vacant and windowless like so many others under Blairmont's ownership, is part of a solid row of vintage red brick houses. They make a lovely streetwall. How could anyone make an intentional effort to diminish the composition they form?

From left to right, an LRA building, a private owner, 2912, and another LRA house. The Blairmont house has been vacant since 2003.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 112

    Left and right:
  • 2928 Glasgow Street (Sheridan Place LLC, April 2007, $85,000)
  • 2924 Glasgow Street (MLK 3000 LLC, September 2007, $85,000)

May 2008

They're a charming pair of houses. If Paul McKee is permitted to destroy them, will whatever takes their place even attempt to match their appealing scale, their beautiful materials, their hand-crafted details, their relevance to the city's history, their potential contribution to its urban density?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 111

  • 2808 Dodier Street (Babcock Resources LLC, October 2007)

May 2008

Here's a house that would actually be an ideal candidate for the kind of tear-it-down development that seems to be Blairmont's objective. It's a simple little building, with large vacant lots to the east and west; Blairmont already owns the latter. Remove one small, architecturally unremarkable house, and you've got a prime development site.

That, of course, is assuming you absolutely must insist on tearing something down. Alternatively, you could just build on either side of it, and leave the existing house alone, but that seems to be a pretty radical concept for most St. Louis developers.

It certainly does seem possible that a building might be able to squeeze onto this tiny vacant space. Oh, if only there was some precedent around to show how to build upon such a minuscule lot, some sort of existing building in the area that one could copy, some predecessor to show that building on this diminutive space might be possible! If only.

It is extremely unfortunate that Paul McKee seems to think the tear-'em-down concept works on a vastly larger scale, with occupied homes and businesses, with beautiful and significant works of architecture, with blocks that are more building than vacant land, with entire neighborhoods, with people as well as buildings.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 110

  • 3101 Lismore Street (Noble Development Co. LLC, September 2006)

May 2008

Vacant since 1999, this house stands on a short stretch of street in JeffVanderLou. Its only surviving neighbor is the spectacular St. Augustine Catholic Church, currently in a state of minimal use by a small local church.

July 2003, photograph by Kevin Keiffer

Until recently, the house stood back-to-side with two neighbors, also owned by Blairmont:
  • 2559 W. Sullivan Street (Blairmont Associates LLC, May 2005, $12,000)
  • 2561 W. Street (Blairmont Associates LLC, May 2005)

2559 W. Sullivan, September 2003, photograph by Kevin Keiffer

2561 W. Sullivan, September 2003, photograph by Kevin Keiffer

Both were demolished in 2007.

The LRA owns the vacant lots to the west, which always seem to have activity going on -- guys sitting around, smoking, chatting, or barbecuing. I believe a small industrial business of some sort is located across the street. It's always been kind of an awkward spot to pull out a camera and start snapping.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 109

  • 3015 Elliot Street (Sheridan Place LLC, November 2006, $119,000)

May 2008

3015 was one of the May 2008 arson victims. Though a plain building, it features the distinctive angled and recessed doorways to its four units that are characteristic of St. Louis buildings. The aerial view appears to show it occupied circa 2005.

The house next door, a privately owned building at 3019 Elliott, was brick rustled in 2007. It appears to have been very similar in appearance.

November 2007

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 108

  • 1412 Sullivan Street (Babcock Resources LLC, 200 )

May 2003; photograph by Kevin Keiffer

Above, is how it was... below, is what it became under Paul McKee's ownership.

May 2008

Further information on 1412's senseless demise at Ecology of Absence.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 107

  • 1948 North Market Street (N & G Ventures LLC, September 2005)

It can be too easy to dismiss an old building, when you're only looking at photographs.

All too often, there's details hidden from a distance, obscured by blurry photographs or small image size.

Such was the case with me and this long-shuttered little storefront building in St. Louis Place. Lost in the foliage around it, surrounded by vacant lots, its lovely details weren't readily apparent till I got up close on a recent visit. Not only does it have beautiful terra cotta trim and brick corbeling, it also still has its original cast iron storefront underneath all that plywood. What a spectacular renovation project it would make!

We can only dream that Paul McKee might make some effort to save it, rather than the demolition-by-neglect he's so widely encouraged.

August 2003 - photograph by Kevin Keiffer

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 106

  • 2716 Thomas Street (N & G Ventures LLC, August 2005)

May 2008

It appears unremarkable at first, but it's as vintage as the rest of the neighborhood; online records date its construction to 1890. The unusual size and frame construction could mean it's older than that.

The last online evidence of occupancy is from 1994, but the vacant building reports, condemnations, and code infractions didn't start piling up till Blairmont got it.

Shrouded by a miniature forest, it seems to have lost some siding, the latest in a long succession of exterior claddings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 105

As places in America lose their individuality and meaning, names too mutate into meaninglessness. The American corporate mind has a moronic genius for this kind of thing.
                      - James Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere

I must confess to spending a while puzzling over one of the latest Blairmont shell company names, "Larmer LLC".

"Larmer". What could it mean? Where'd it come from?

Paul McKee's companies frequently bear names formed by a head-on collision between two elements. "Blairmont", for example, comes from the street names Blair and Montgomery. "MLK 3000" is a reference to the southern boundary street of McKee's target area, though I'm not clear on where the 3000 comes in (the number of persons to be kicked out?) "Sheridan Place" is taken from JeffVanderLou's Sheridan Avenue, which McKee will surely recreate in the image of St. Louis's heights of Victorian splendor, the private Place streets. "McEagle" combines McKee's last name with the ultimate symbol of American patriotism, presumably because, hey, what kind of pinko communist is going to argue with an eagle? And "WingHaven" continues the bird theme while offering a vision of refuge (from all the suburban drek around it?), and perhaps trying to steal a little Frank Lloyd Wright cachet to boot.

The meaning of "VHS Partners" continues to elude me. Vashon High School? Some sort of videotape reference?

So how was "Larmer" created?

  • 2244 Montgomery Street (Larmer LLC, March 2008, $55,000)

May 2008

Could it named for Blairmont's most common next-door neighbor, St. Louis's Land Reutilization Authority? LRA. LARmer.

Maybe, maybe not. But it's just another way that Larmer fits the Blairmont/Paul McKee M.O. to a T.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 104

Welcome to the 2500 block of Dodier Street, in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood. Here is an entire block laid to waste by Paul McKee's absentee shell companies. Arson and brick rustling have destroyed every building on the block's western end... except for one holdout, a profitable business that has refused Blairmont's offers of buy-out. Now they find themselves surrounded by a ghost town, a landscape of devastated architecture, buildings smashed by the hammer of McKee's speculatory schemes.

    The southern half of the block, west to east:
  • 2566 W. Dodier Street (Sheridan Place LLC, March 2007, $85,000)
  • 2560 W. Dodier Street (Larmer LLC, April 2008)
  • 2554 W. Dodier Street (LRA)
  • 2546 W. Dodier Street (Blairmont Associates Ltd. Co., August 2004)
  • 2540 W. Dodier Street (privately owned - not pictured)
  • 2538 W. Dodier Street (privately owned - not pictured)
  • 2534 W. Dodier Street (VHS Partners LLC, November 2005, $38,000)
  • 2532 W. Dodier Street (privately owned - not pictured)

2566 W. Dodier - May 2008. Burned in the May 2008 arsons.

2560 W. Dodier - May 2008. Destroyed by brick rustlers.

2546 W. Dodier - May 2008. Destroyed by brick rustlers.

    The northern block, east to west:
  • 2515 W. Dodier Street (privately owned)
  • 2517 W. Dodier Street (N & G Ventures LLC, May 2006, $65,000)
  • 2525 W. Dodier Street (Larmer LLC, April 2008)
  • 2527 W. Dodier Street (privately owned)
  • 2547 W. Dodier Street (Larmer LLC, April 2008)
  • 2549 W. Dodier Street (Clarence Machine Company)
  • 2559 W. Dodier Street (Sheridan Place LLC, May 2007, $75,000)
  • 2561 W. Dodier Street (Sheridan Place LLC, May 2007)

2517 W. Dodier (left) - May 2008

2525 W. Dodier - May 2008

2547 W. Dodier - May 2008. Burned in the May 2008 arsons.

The besieged commercial building, at 2549 W. Dodier - May 2008

2559 W. Dodier - May 2008. Destroyed by brick rustlers.

2561 W. Dodier (left) - May 2008. Burned, date unknown.

Blairmont also owns most of the vacant lots between the surviving buildings.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 103

Three houses, three streets, but all on a single city block.
  • 1500 Branch Street (Blairmont Associates Ltd. LLC, August 2003)

May 2008

Among the very first of Paul McKee's purchases, this long block of rowhouses has become quasi-famous in local urban photography circles for the graffiti sprayed on the back. It's been vacant since 1996.

Stay out crack heads

The wooden back porches are falling down, but otherwise the building doesn't appear irretrievable. Of course, boarding up the top floor would've helped a lot, but "helping" doesn't really fit with Blairmont's mission of demolition by neglect.

  • 3211 Blair Street (Blairmont Associates Ltd. LLC, August 2003)

March 2003

Blairmont also purchased this small frame house around the corner at the same time. It had been vacant for 2 years, and has remained so under Paul McKee's stewardship.

May 2008

  • 1501 Palm Street (Blairmont Associates Ltd. LLC, March 2006)

May 2003 - Photograph by Kevin Keiffer

And finally, at the other end of the block, there's this little hard luck case. A tiny Second Empire house, two stories disguised as one, this building was nearly demolished by its previous owner, till the city stepped in to stop it. Blairmont didn't put the hole there, but haven't done anything to fix it, either.

November 2006

November 2007

May 2008

September 2006

Ecology of Absence has further information and photos of 1501 Palm Street.