Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Can Cupples Station #7 be Saved?
It wasn't all that long ago that downtown buildings dominated the Landmarks Association's annual list of the region's most endangered buildings. The Statler Hotel, Merchandise Mart and Kiel Opera House once seemed like they would be permanent fixtures on the list, but the wave of redevelopment that downtown has experienced over the last decade has seen most of the threatened buildings restored to their former glory by developers. Even vacant buildings like the Arcade Building are considered viable candidates for redevelopment or have stable enough ownership to no longer warrant endangered status.
Prior to the beginning of the downtown renaissance, Cupples Station was possibly the most decrepit portion of a central business district that had its share of decrepit areas. Saved from demolition by Mayor Schoemel in the 1980s, redevelopment eluded the historic, nine-building warehouse district for decades before McCormack Baron renovated the four easternmost warehouses as the Westin Hotel.
Eventually Bank of America, which owned the entire Cupples Station district, sold off each of the five remaining buildings to developers. HRI and Conrad Properties each renovated a building, and Kevin McGowan's Blue Urban took the remaining three. Blue Urban successfully renovated one of its three buildings before the economy stalled, leaving the other two - Building 7 and Building 9 - vacant.
Now Building 7 has landed on the Most Endangered List.
The building has sustained quite a bit of damage over the years, and has significant holes in its roof and numerous open windows that expose its interior to the elements. Prior to selling it to Blue Urban, Bank of America had thought it was too deteriorated to be rehabbed and sought to demolish it.
Kevin McGowan saved it once; can he save it again?