Not that you’d want to, but if you happen to take a stroll in downtown East St. Louis, especially near Collinsville and Missouri avenues, you might want to wear a hardhat. Literally.
That’s right, taking a stroll to a downtown bank, nightclub or local business could be hazardous to your health, particularly if you’re anywhere near the 90-year-old Spivey Building, a skyscraper that has been raining bricks, masonry and debris for well over a decade.
I’ve often wondered what it would take for ESL’s elected officials to get a clue relative to the hideous, bombed-out, crumbling downtown area, which has become nothing more than an eyesore and landmark for MetroLink passengers and symbolic of East St. Louis’ governmental ineptitude. Maybe a brick to the head, followed by a costly lawsuit, would be a wakeup call, but don’t count on it.
It’s become so bad that the Spivey Building now has barriers surrounding it as a heads-up to drivers and pedestrians.
Why not just implode or demolish the damned thing? That’s a logical and common sense-based question. However, logic and common sense have not, historically, been common among many ESL officials, even when the public’s safety are at risk.
Years ago, despite a climate of violence and, in some cases, murder in ESL night spots, then Mayor Alvin Parks failed to get tough with nightclub owners and took a lackadaisical approach to the problem, infuriating U.S. Senator Dick Durbin to the point of publicly excoriating Parks.
Fast forward to 2017 and ESL Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks is mute and City Manager Courtney Logan has taken a passive posture relative to addressing the increasing public safety issues surrounding the Spivey Building.
The owner of the building, St. Louis businessman Stacy Hastie, received ownership of the building back in 2006, the result of an illegal asbestos removal settlement. Logan has stated that his hands are tied, saying that, “There is only so much the city can do legally when it involves a privately owned building.” Logan also has stated that he has been unsuccessful in reaching Hastie. Really?
Can you imagine a derelict, decaying, brick-shedding skyscraper being allowed to just endanger the public in downtown St. Louis with no consequences? No, because it wouldn’t happen.
I would suggest to Logan that if Hastie chooses to be a slumlord, then he should summarily be fined and sued and that his building should be scheduled for emergency demolition.