ST. LOUIS -- Unless a buyer comes forward with the ability to immediately stabilize and redevelop it, the abandoned and decaying St. Mary's Infirmary (1526-48 Papin) will be torn down to protect public safety.
An emergency declaration issued today by the City of St. Louis Building Commissioner begins the demolition process of selecting a contractor and preparing the site. That will take a about a month. If during that time someone steps forward with the financing and vision to take on immediately stabilizing and redeveloping these structures, the City can stay the demolition order.
City engineers believe the buildings are an imminent threat to public safety and cannot withstand more wind, another rainy season, or another round of freezing and thawing. In addition to numerous calls for nuisance issues and other crimes in and around the buildings, substantial fires gutted portions of the Infirmary in both 2012 and 2015, which further compromised the structures. City engineers who have inspected the buildings are afraid that they will collapse and hurt someone.
"We can't wait any longer," Building Commissioner Frank Oswald said. "We had hoped someone with redevelopment interest could save these old brick buildings, but without a substantial immediate investment, they are too large and too unstable to remain as is."
Sixth Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, along with the Mayor's Office and the St. Louis Development Corporation, have partnered with the owner over the past several years to try to find a viable buyer who can fortify what remains of the buildings, eliminate the danger, and redevelop the site; however, to date no one has stepped forward with the ready cash to move a project forward.
"If a developer is out there, now is the time to come forward," Mayor Francis Slay said. "The City will work through any and all proposals that may come forward until the demolition date has arrived to restore public safety to the immediate area."
About St. Mary's Infirmary: St. Mary’s Infirmary consists of five brick hospital buildings constructed between 1887 and 1946. The hospital entered an important phase in 1933, when it became the City's second hospital serving African Americans with the City's first-ever racially integrated medical staff. Later that year, the Sisters of St. Mary also opened a nursing school for black candidates, creating the City's second school of nursing open to blacks and the nation's first Catholic nursing school that admitted African Americans.