There has been a lot of disinformation, and outright lies being spread about the condition of Cupples Warehouse #7. Read the facts here, at the Cultural Resource Office’s website; scroll down to page 28 to read the official opinion.
Perhaps the most infuriating disinformation is coming from KMOV, which is blindly reporting that a renovation of the building could cost $60 million. The report offers no source for that figure, nor does it address the Preservation Board’s finding that there is no evidence to support that cost.
As Steve Patterson stated on KMOV, the behavior of McGowan-Walsh is inexcusable, and it is behavior that no private individual could get away with. They have not paid property taxes on the property for years, essentially holding the building hostage in retaliation for not receiving permission to demolish the warehouse and the memory of their gross negligence. Could you get away with not paying property taxes for years? I doubt it, but if you’re a big developer, I guess the laws don’t apply to you.
I took the time, unlike KMOV and other news outlets, to actually go out to the warehouse and inspect the building myself. While I am not a structural engineer, I have seen lots of deteriorated brick walls in my life, and I think I know one when I see one. First off, I saw no evidence of brick falling from the walls anywhere on the street or sidewalk.
The roof has indeed collapsed, and as you can see through this window, light (and the elements) can now stream through the hole in the roof.
The motivation of the Treasurer to advocate for demolition is obvious; the brand new (and seemingly pointless) parking garage south of Cupples #7 is largely hidden from Spruce Street. Which is a good thing, as parking garages are necessary evils in an urban environment, and should be placed in less desirable land such as the lots backing up to the Highway 40 elevated lanes.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why such a large garage was built in that location, as there are very few buildings nearby that need parking–other than Cupples #7 if it were renovated. Otherwise, other than one other beautifully restored Cupples Warehouse, the rest of the buildings in the area have their own, ample parking garages for themselves. Is the Treasurer regretting his decision to build the garage, and hoping that a demolished #7 will magically improve usage?
I am not overly concerned by the collapse of the roof for this important reason: many of these industrial buildings were actually designed to allow the floors to collapse easily, thus sparing the exterior walls that could then be reused. Theoretically, if there was a fire in the building, the wood interior was designed in many buildings to collapse in on itself; in many factories the floor joists weren’t even attached to the curtain walls.
So yes, there has been major interior collapse, but I argue that the building was engineered in that way to protect the outside walls.
Tomorrow I will show examples of seemingly fragile brick exterior walls that were recycled and saved, and other examples of the durability of brick through the centuries–even when lacking a roof.