Preservation / St. Louis Board of Aldermen
5:33 pm
Wed June 29, 2011

Del Taco gets hearing before St. Louis Board of Aldermen

A taco stand shaped like a giant flying saucer was the subject of heated debate at the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen on Wednesday.

The board’s Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee approved a tax abatement bill which could move North Grand’s Del Taco one step closer to demolition.

The iconic gas station turned fast-food joint has become a cause célèbre among local preservationists.

Jeff Vines is a co-founder of STL-Style on Cherokee Street, which sells St. Louis-branded merchandise.

“We need more cool and crazy in St. Louis,” Vines said.  “Because we’ve done a really good job of squandering most of our cool and crazy mid-century buildings and I think we huge opportunity here to build something great within the existing structure. ”

The site’s developer, Rick Yackey, has stated a desire to demolish Del Taco in favor of more versatile retail space.

Rick Yackey says Del Taco lacks sufficient square footage, parking and has been a magnet for crime.

"Del Taco has failed there,” Yackey said. “I think my chances of finding another entity to go in there as a tenant I think is going to be very challenging. ”

The plaza is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and any demolition would need approval from the city’s Cultural Resources Office.

Yackey says he and his partners have invested $60 million already to renovate the site’s the two apartment towers and student housing.

That figure includes $27 million in historic tax credits.  Some Aldermen, including the 24th Ward’s Scott Ogilvie accused Yackey of bad faith, for taking tax credits and then trying to demolish the building.

19th Ward Alderwoman, Marlene Davis says the Council Plaza site is listed on the nation register for it historic, not architectural significance.  The apartment towers at Council Plaza were built during the 1960’s by local trade unions as housing for senior citizens.

The Aldermanic board voted in support of a ten-year tax abatement for the site.