Protesters to give pushback after SLU applies for permit to demolish two historic buildings

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Protesters are expected to be in Midtown Wednesday evening fighting St. Louis University’s permits that were filed to knock down two vacant buildings.

Protesters and preservationists tell First Alert 4 the two buildings on Olive are the cornerstones of the former Mill Creek Valley neighborhood. It was one of the largest Black communities in the early 20th century.

“It’s just ridiculous, there’s no reason for it,” said Bryan Hadley a preservationist and organizer of Wednesday’s protest.

SLU said it wants to tear down the buildings to improve the vibrancy near campus.

Hadley isn’t too happy about it. He said he feels like the university is practically dismissing or ignoring the fact this neighborhood was once the home to 20,000 Black St. Louisans.

“Very important that they be preserved because they are actually the last vestiges of Mill Creek Valley which was a neighborhood predominately minority in the 50s and 60s.”

For years the buildings have sat empty and boarded up. SLU said it wants to improve the vibrancy around that part of the university’s campus -- around this part of the school’s campus. However, Hadley thinks otherwise – at least in the short term. He thinks it’ll likely become a vacant lot

“And that’s just not acceptable,” said Hadley. “At the very least if you’re going to do something to these buildings which are still quite sound – btw – they’re fine. No, they’re not pretty like they used to be, they’re rough around the edges and they’re still useful potentially and someone could take them on and do something with them whether that’s SLU or a private developer.”

What’s frustrating him and others is the fact that Midtown is full of historic structures, but the buildings at the center of this issue aren’t in a preservation district.

“Since St. Louis University is the rightful owner of these buildings, it would be nice if they could find it within themselves to find a way to use these buildings in a useful way. There are a litany of things that can be done with them.”

In a statement, SLU’s communications team said: “It is in no one’s interest for the buildings to continue to deteriorate indefinitely. While SLU applied for a demolition permit, the University is also seeking to engage parties interested in acquiring and redeveloping the properties.”