Local landmark becoming a haven for crime
NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY - A prestigious building in North St. Louis County is now an eyesore and a "cesspool," Moline Acres Mayor Michele DeShay said.
The Lewis and Clark Tower was a haven of luxury 50 years ago, but is now a haven for criminals and the homeless, Mayor DeShay says.
"On a nice winter day like today, you could see down to the arch," she said.
"In its heyday, it was the place to be. Limousines would pull up and drop people off so they could dine at the restaurant at the top," Clifton Ware said.
Ware started his police career 30 years ago as a foot patrol officer at the Lewis and Clark Tower, he's now the police chief.
"This building was thriving and full of occupants," he said.
It's now full of criminals and the homeless he says.
"It's deteriorating brick by brick, vagrants got in and took the copper piping out of the building, there's spray painting and graffiti," Ware said.
The city condemned the building more than a year ago and the people who lived in the tower left a year and a half ago. The legs that support the building are breaking away.
"A demolition would be the best thing," said Ware.
But the Mayor DeShay says the city cannot demolish the building because the condo owners won't give up their rights to the properties, and the city can't make them.
The public works director can't figure out who exactly is in charge of the building anymore. The mayor said the land the tower is on could be ripe for redevelopment. She's trying to attract developers to the area.
The city recently invested $3 million in infrastructure, and $6 million in a new library.
Mayor DeShay believes, if the eyesore is gone, a symbol of progress and another renaissance could rise again.