Parking revenue to pay for Cupples 7 building demolition

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by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 9:20 AM

1020 Spruce Street

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(KMOV.com) --  The St. Louis Treasurer’s Office will use revenue from the city’s parking garages and parking ticket fines to pay for the demolition of the Cupples 7 building on Spruce Street in downtown St. Louis.

If you’ve been to a ballgame in recent years, you’ve likely walked past the building located two and a half blocks west of Busch Stadium.  In 2008, the city condemned it.  Two years ago, the city placed barricades around the structure to prevent anyone from walking or driving near it.  The roof of the building is caving in and a peek in one of the broken windows shows decay inside.

This week, the city’s building division announced it would issue a demolition permit for Cupples 7, overriding a Preservation Board decision that prevented a tear down.

This move also triggers the enforcement of an agreement that the City of St. Louis Treasurer entered into last year with Montgomery Bank.  In a January 27th, 2012 deal, the previous treasurer agreed to purchase the promissary note from the bank for $850,000 if a demolition permit is issued before the end of 2013.

After years of decay, the city says Cupples 7 has to come down this summer and the building division plans to issue that demolition permit.

The $850,000 plus the cost of demolition will be drawn from parking funds (parking tickets and money collected in city garages).  General revenue funds will not be used.

The current treasurer, Tishaura Jones, was elected after the deal was made last summer.  Her Chief of Staff Jared Boyd said the new office does not know how the $850,000 price was negotitated.  There was no sign of an appraisal, said Boyd.  

“We have heard rumblings that the previous treasurer thought a competing surface lot or parking garage was slated for that property.  In an effort to reduce competition with the garage that the city owns, which is right next door to the Cupples 7 property, he entered into the loan option agreement,” said Boyd.

The city’s parking commission voted to allocate the funds.

Todd Waelterman, the city’s street’s department director, is on the parking commission.  By phone today, he told News 4 that the commission members voted on a package that included the cost of demolition and the cost of redeveloping the property into a green space.  He does not recall an explanation on the cost of the $850,000 note.

The city expects a declaration to issue a demolition permit on Monday, May 6th.  Two weeks later, the demolition permit would be issued with an expectation that the work would start in early June.  The treasuer’s office says it will not build a new parking lot or garage, but instead turn the lot into a “green space”.  It’s not clear yet what that “green space” would like like or if benches or playground equipment would be installed on the lot.

This month, the city and treasurer’s office both say the city will entertain any new offers from developers who have the money to shore up the building and then redevelop it.  Estimates from the city put the cost at at least $4 million to stabilize the building.

As for the more than $360,000 in back taxes due to the city, Mayor Francis Slay’s Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford said the city’s only recourse is to sue the development company, Ballpark Lofts 111 LLC.  

Rainford acknowledged it’s unlikely the city would recoup what it’s owed, “I wish, if it were me, you’d be able to sue the principals and anything they owned and all of that, but that’s not what the law says.”

 

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