St. Louis Public Radio News
4:52 pm
Tue June 8, 2010

Court rejects appeal on right to sue in San Luis case

St. Louis – The Missouri Court of Appeals has dismissed an effort by St. Louis-area preservationists to sue over the demolition of a 1960s era hotel.

The San Luis Apartments were built as a motel in 1962, and later served as senior housing for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Archdiocese shuttered them several years ago when maintenance became too expensive, and got permission last June to tear down the building and build a parking lot. That lot is now used for events, and finishing touches like sod should be completed by the end of the week.

A group of preservationists called the Friends of the San Luis sued to block the demolition, saying the city's historical review board ignored the building's historic character. Last July, a judge ruled that the Friends did not have standing because none of the members had a direct economic interest in the San Luis. Before the Friends could appeal the lower court ruling, the Archdiocese completed the demolition.

The Friends appealed anyway, and on Monday a panel of the Court of Appeals ruled that because the building had been torn down, attempts to stop the demolition were moot. The court refused to rule on the right of the Friends to bring the lawsuit, saying in a 13-page ruling that the Friends, or other preservationist groups, would have the ability to bring a similar case.

Landmarks Association of St. Louis executive director Jeff Mansell said he was disappointed the court did not expand who can bring lawsuits to halt the demolition of historic buildings.

"It helps these groups who are in these neighborhoods to say wait a minute, we're working hard to preserve the historic character of our neighborhoods, we should be heard," he said.

An attorney for the Friends has not ruled out an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Read the Court of Appeals opinion here