Daily Demolition Report: Dinging Bell

It’s easier to knock them down when they’re all lined up.


Community Structures


Photo of 512 W. Bell St.: HAR

36 Comment

  • So sad to see those W. Bell places go. I wish more investors were interested in buying them up and keeping them as rentals. With rates as low as they are today, the numbers really do work. The rub is being able to qualify for a traditional 1-4 family conforming loan.

  • We looked at the one in the photo. Not bad but not in great shape. But yeah we could have made it work as an investment property.

    20% down and a house needing work before you can really get good rent out of it is a tough nut to swallow.

  • So, what’s going up in place of those lovley homes?

  • MH005: It is, but I guess you need to look at it in terms of what’s the return of that down payment + improvement costs vs. what you’d get on another type of investment.
    But the real gain comes from the fact you’re locking up cheap money for 30 years. What was rent in this area 30 years ago? What will it be in another 30? So while your payment stays the same, the value of that debt goes down (as does the real amount) while your property value and income goes up.
    Right now is a good time to grab cheap debt almost for the sake of itself. It’s brain dead easy to get a better return on the borrowed money than the cost of doing so. The debt IS the value.

  • Stucco monstrosities. UGH. That is my neighborhood, my 1936 Russel Brown Co. (same architect as River Oaks) built home is well restored, and extremely well kept too bad others aren’t seeing the value and history in them, instead replacing them with utterly trashy 3+ story homes thrown up in 2-3 days, laden with cheap stucco. I hate that trend with every molecule of my being, reverence anyone?

  • Corey: talk to anyone you might know with money to invest and try to buy some of these places. The only way to stop these places from being bought and torn down is to buy them to operate as is.
    I buy as many as I can, but being self financed, even with being creative, I can only get so many. If easier financing were easier I’d get them all.

  • This city sucks. I need to move to st Louis or new Orleans which are cities that actually preserve their history instead of actively destroying it every chance it’s possible.

  • Not all that is old is valuable or historic, most of it is just old crap. A few examples should be saved for posterity but the rest need to be razed and the ground salted.
    Besides, vast majority of people would much rater prefer to live in a brand new and shiny home. No worries of lead or asbestos, actually usable closets, bathroom for every bedroom, lower maintenance costs, and much more energy efficient.

  • commonsense: I agree that not everything old is good and you shouldn’t save old stuff for the sake of it. And if you want something old saved — ya gotta take out the checkbook.
    That said, there are plenty of examples of “cool” (which I understand is subjective) older places that would be very nice to have saved. While some of the layout features are not current, often times you can bring them up to date. We’ve taken 1940’s (and even a 1920’s) built fourplexes and added updated insulation, new windows, central air, updated plumbing/electrical, etc.
    At what point is that more of a pain then it’s worth? Or at what point is it really not an “old” building anymore? I guess that’s for whoever owns the property to decide.
    People have been voting with their wallets. While many would “hope” that the best use is to keep the existing structure, not enough people actually buy them for that reason. And it’s hard to hate on a developer who builds something new when no one else decided to buy it.

  • Too bad you can’t get a job in St. Louis. Wonder if there’s a connection.

  • Some of you people dont seem to understand the value of historic preservation. Not every single house by itself is historically important but alltogether, these old homes provide a sense of place that new 3 story garage condos cant. If you tear down most of the old homes and leave just a few then you are left with a city without a heart. Montrose has been utterly destroyed. It was once mostly 19th century and early 20th century houses. Now its almost all 3 story cheap looking condos that have no soul. I understand that people moving in from the suburbs dont want icky old homes they would have to restore but thats why you put preservation ordinances into law like they have done in the heights. Sure, some suburban yuppy would rather live in a 3 story condo thats 600k because they dont care about this city or its history.

    Most civilized cities in America preserve their history, even though not every house is historic. Its about a sense of place and belonging giving a greater meaning to the city at large. NYC has huge historic districts that are fully protected. They could easily tear down their history and replace it all with shiny new glass towers. But they dont, that city and many many others in America have opted to preserve instead of make tons of money off of new construction, even if thats what yuppy and old retirees want.

  • Chris, you don’t seem to understand how important something ought to be before you make a law about it.
    Law is violence.
    Everybody agrees it’s ok to stop and punish murders, rapes, theft, etc with the State, which has a monopoly on violence not in immediate self-defense.
    But when it comes to what style houses are in, do you really think that your taste ought to be backed up with violence?
    Don’t pretend that’s not what you’re asking for. You want to city to force people to keep those homes up. The force of the city is backed up with the implicit, and, thankfully rare, explicit threat of violence.
    Your taste is not so important that men with guns should enforce it. Very little is.

  • I am so glad the buyers of my 1930s Montrose home chose to remodel, rather than tear down.

    Bless them.

  • Wow Spoonman, well said.
    And it’s not as if there are no ways to save these old places OUTSIDE of the use of government force. People that want to keep them rather than knock them down have to buy them. It’s that simple.
    We’re about to buy a large building built in the 30’s. Know who the other people are trying to get this place? Builders. So if we end up getting it, it stays. If we don’t, it goes. Know how hard it is to compete against someone that can build tons of new shiny $600k townhomes vs. a plan to buy and fix up an almost 80 year old building? Very.
    It’s work, but maybe find out who owns other small fourplexes and historic buildings *that you like*. Find out what you can do to help them buy others you like that might get knocked down. See if they’re interested in a partnership. There are ways to save these places.

  • Why is it that anti-preservation arguments always are so crazy over-the-top, take it to its extreme logical limits to the point of near clinical paranoia? State sponsored physical violence needed for historic preservation? Sure. You’re right. Blood on the streets as we speak. And here are a few other things that are enforced by the jack-booted thugs of state violence:

    Overgrown lawns
    Mowing the lawn after 7:30 pm
    Deed Restrictions
    Running in the street (at least in Sugar Land)
    HOA dues
    Riding a bike on the sidewalk (at least in Houston)

    Do we ask ourselves whether these things are worth the imposition of state violence to enforce? Of course not. Why? Because we live in a civilized society where we accept the rule of law and the democratic process, not because we fear the state’s monopoly on violence.

  • Uh Spoonman, you do realize that most cities have historic districts where they dont allow tear downs right? Like pretty much every city in America has historic districts that have strict rules. Do you see blood on the streets in Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, San Francisco, NYC, Baltimore, Dallas, Austin, etc, etc over historic preservation? No, you dont. Some of you anti preservation people need to get out some more and maybe stop listening to soo much AM conservative radio and see other cities and see what they have done to enrich their cities with preservation and improved tourism to said historic districts.

  • The argument that “plenty of other cities enforce things they have no business with” does not impress me.

  • ^
    You were saying that cities enforce these laws violently. You are making crap up to justify your narrow minded perspective. Do cities not have any right to enforce any of the other myriad of laws that they do? And I assure you, where parts of our city are actually protected like in the Heights and parts of Montrose, the streets are not running red with the blood of home owners. In fact, in the heights, Ive only seen one house in the entire neighborhood that had a sign that was not in favour of the historic preservation ordinance. People like preservation, it boosts the value of your home when you are in historic districts and it attracts people like me to live in said neighborhoods due to the preservation laws.

  • Severe preservation is detrimental to the local economy. It keeps property values depressed (99% of people prefer new stuff), it prevents new construction jobs, it lowers the property tax base for the city.

  • @Chris, you haven’t looked very hard if you only saw one house opposed to the preservation ordinance.

    The streets aren’t running with blood because most sane people knuckle under to the implied threat of violence that enforcing laws brings. The fine for failing to comply with the permitting and inspection laws in a preservation district is something like $800 per day. So, property owners either don’t do the work, or they pay the horrifically high costs of compliance.

    I want to know though, why do you think you have the right to tell a property owner that your sense of aesthetics is more important than theirs. Why shouldn’t I be able to build a great new house in a convenient location, replacing a piece of crap old house that’s long past its prime?

  • Chris, how does government enforce laws if they are not backed up with violence?

  • You people are too freaking much. Yeah, because you know when you dont pay your taxes, the IRS comes and tortures you with water boarding until you pay. Sorry, but other than cases of murder with the death penalty, when does government come and threaten violence on people? You people need to get out of your little Ron Paul bubbles or something.

  • Chris, just try violating the preservation ordinance for an extended period. Tell the inspector to get lost when he writes you a ticket. At some point, the police, armed with guns, will come to arrest you . If you resist, they will use violence, or the threat of violence, to ensure your compliance.

    If you don’t pay your taxes, there’s an excellent chance some IRS agents, armed with guns, will come to take your property and assets. Enforcement of laws always carries an implied threat of violence.

  • To those who think blood has to run in the street for it to be bad, you are missing the mark. Read the tax rulings in any jurisdiction (they are almost always on the web). Someone has to pay for all that enforcement and rule making and rule interpretation. Lives are destroyed. Sorry, but if you have never owned a business, never had an employee, or never had a government employee come visit you do not understand. Really. There is no such thing as a little cancer.

  • Lives are destroyed by historic preservation, blargh! You guys need to calm down. Somehow every other major city in America is getting by just fine and has tourists due to preservation. What, do you think that the French Quarter shouldnt be preserved or maybe the East side of Boston should just be torn down, or Grenwich Village. Somehow people are getting by just fine and in fact have a better sense of community with preservation. Sure, it can cause a headache now and then but think about the greater good it will be doing for the city. But I digress, lets just tear it all down, screw it.

  • Shorter Chris: I don’t care if it’s right, I want the government to enforce my tastes.

  • Shorter spoonman, I want all of Houston to be covered in soulless 3 story condos because I love the free market and don’t care about a sense of community. If you do any research on the subject, historic preservation increases land values, spurs development of infill and creats a tourist base that in turn helps local cafes and shops. You are also completely disregarding any of the points im making and not refuting them. I moved to the heights because it’s the last semi intact historic neighborhood. People move there due to the historic architecture. But you would rather see it turn into another montrose. You are totally disregarding the fact of how well
    Preservation has helped out many many other cities in America.

  • How important do you have to think you are to decide that every building which doesn’t meet your tastes is “soulless” and destroys a “sense of community”?

  • “I moved to the heights because it’s the last semi intact historic neighborhood.”


  • I am so dismayed to see so many anti preservation folks on here and spoonman, you think those new condos going up all over the city have character? Lol

  • And who defines “character”? You?!?? Give me a minute to stop laughing.
    This is precisely why forced preservation is bad, no ONE person or a small group of fringe nazis should define what is or is not estetially pleasing.

  • Lots of families think the new condos have enough character to purchase them. Government should not be in the business of arbitrating aesthetics and “character.” Jeez, just a little wealth and few generations and we are completely willing to throw away the values that built the place. How sad. We keep replacing common sense and integrity with laws and bureaucracy and pretty soon we will have record indebtedness and the highest level of adult incarceration in the world. Oh wait.

  • The Heights will never be a tourist attraction based on architecture. There were never enough houses, and few of them are significant.

  • I can’t stay quiet on the STL topic any longer. Chris, honey, did you grow up in St. Louis or did you just visit? Did you happen to venture over to the completely-abandoned, segregation-ravaged north side of town? Do you happen to read the STL preservation blogs that document the demolition by neglect and arson for brick theft? You think the city is prosecuting those people? Have you read about how the STL Archdiocese and SLU president get to have their way with the CWE due to whatever backroom deals they make with the preservation board? The grass is always greener…

    110 years ago, STL was the 4th largest city. Today, it’s Houston’s turn. Comparing their housing stocks and platting is apples to freight trains.

  • Yes, I did go to the north side of town and all over the city. Yes, a lot of stuff gets knocked down but a lot is saved. Old North St. Louis is actively preserving lots of old housing stock on the north side of town. St. Louis is unfortunately incredibly ghetto so a lot of it is knocked down due to people not having any money to repair the old buildings. Here in Houston, theres plenty of money and the houses that get knocked down here for the most part, especially in the heights and montrose are in plenty good condition to be restored. Theres no need to knock down old buildings if theres a means to preserve it. St. Louis a lot of the time doesnt have the means or the money to preserve its history, but we here in Houston have plenty of money.