Ronald McDonald House - Forest Park Southeast

Ok, when I first read of this development announcement on NextSTL back in September, 2018, I thought it a worthy project for the favorites list.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis plans to build a new house at Tower Grove and Chouteau in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. The charity provides housing to families whose children are receiving medical treatment. The $22M, 85,000 square foot project consists of office and public space on the ground floor, 60 living units on the second and third floors, and a fourth floor for expansion. There would be 81 on-site parking spaces. The site plan shows areas of possible expansion along Tower Grove to the north and Chouteau to the east. The front door faces Chouteau where the building meets the sidewalk.
— Richard Bose - NextSTL

First, the Ronald McDonald Houses providing temporary housing for out of town families in town for medical care for children at our fantastic hospitals is a heartwarming, good thing for our city. Locals volunteers are encouraged to visit, prepare and cook meals for the temporary residents so they don’t have to worry about eating out.

It’s a great organization. I’ve volunteered at the one near Cardinal Glennon and can vouch for the positivity that stems from this organization.

The property is one I’m familiar with, there is a charming little church that looks like it could be in a Midwestern farming community in Illinois where we grew up.

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It’s been abandoned for years though, and as we know when the people leave (the flock), the churches close too or move to where the people are. We are over churched, especially abandoned ones.

There is also a strange property with a loading dock right off of Chouteau and an adjacent building that always looked like a jail to me…complete with barbed wire.

It’s not a very vibrant, urban scene along Chouteau, and I was encouraged by the pretty decent site plan with entry on Choutueau, even if there is a need for surface parking, it’s relatively hidden from the surface streets.

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It’s location would extend the BJC/Children’s Hospital complex south into Forest Park Southeast, a connection I like.

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But, I didn’t read the article critically enough until now, and the beef I have is that the other two locations, which are quite cool would be closed.

The new facility will replace current facilities at 4381 West Pine and 3450 Park Ave.
— Richard Bose - NextSTL

This information made me want to bump it off the list and swap it out with the Ranken project up north. But, I’m still hopeful for this one improving the view from I-64 and Chouteau. But, I don’t like giving mixed messages and changing course, so I’ll keep it with a healthy dose of skepticism, knowing this one is a gain for one part of town and a loss for another.

Musical chairs is typically something that doesn’t warrant celebration.

Who knows, the project may not even happen, I heard on KWMU that the city denied the demo of the church.

Officials from Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis thought they found a perfect spot to build a new facility to house families of hospitalized children. But their plan for a 60-bedroom building has hit a snag.

Earlier this year, the charity bought 2.6 acres of land in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood — a nearly equal drive from the city’s two children’s hospitals. But the plot of land includes an abandoned 19th century church, and the city’s Preservation Board has said the organization’s plan can’t justify tearing down a historic building.
— Sarah Fentem - St. Louis Public Radio

Still, Ronald McDonald House is a great institution, one I’m happy to see rooting down in St. Louis. I’m not a hardcore preservationist at all cost type. I think this would be an upgrade for the neighborhood.

I’ve never been able to figure out the subjective nature of our Cultural Resources Office and Preservation Review Board rulings either. It seems inconsistent and rife for cronyism. You know, we are in St Louis where nepotism and cronyism is the currency of the old guard.

Anyhow, we’ll keep our eyes on this one.