Lights Out

Despite the efforts of rehabber Patrick Schneider, the notion of a Gaslight Square revival seems to be running short on both time and money

Adds Kennedy, "As time goes on it becomes a greater issue about safety -- and jeopardizing the property value of the development to the south."

At this point, the future of the land isn't officially spoken for, though the signs are on the wall. On one hand, the St. Louis Development Corp., a city agency, says no plans are on the board for demolition, construction or sale. Baron adds that his company would have development rights over any new plan that might come into play.

Kennedy says Schneider's ideas for a restoration aren't totally out the window, but money must be raised first -- and, for that matter, raised quickly.

"I never would douse hope," he says. "Like I said, I grew up in the neighborhood. I never would douse hope. Is it probable? Probably not. Is it possible? If people really have it in their hearts, then something is possible."

Schneider's still got that hope.
In fact, when he looks at the 4200 block of Olive, he thinks about the trolley tracks, which still sit underneath the street, and whether they could be dug up and reused. He thinks about the new suburban-style development nearby and how shops might cater to the residents of the area. He wonders aloud what kind of club or museum the Crystal Palace could become, if miracle money fell from the sky.

"Preservation has a lot to do with money," he says. "But for the poor people in the neighborhood, they need to feel some hope, that something can be brought back. The Chase was thought of as an eyesore, but they brought that back. Preservation has a lot to do with keeping a neighborhood glued together."

If you head down to the corner of Olive and Boyle, you may well run into Patrick Schneider. He'll preach the good gospel of Gaslight Square to you.

And it starts like so: "You've got to have respect for something.

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