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Rendering of Renovated Saucer Unveiled; Future Tenant Still Unknown

saucer-rendering.jpg
Albert Samaha
The first image of St. Louis' hot new [to be announced]!
For the second time in as many months, developer Rick Yackey and 19th Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis convened an informal press conference in front of the building formerly known as Del Taco. It was wet and windy and cold, but a dozen or so reporters and Saucer faithful crowded beneath the famous overhang to learn the property's destiny.

The big news: the first graphic renderings of how the Saucer will look once it's renovated.

Yackey and Davis held up two large poster boards featuring the familiar building, visual confirmation that the developer is deep into his plan to preserve the Saucer.

In the images, the crusty white walls of Del Taco are replaced by a sleek glass facade framed by exposed red St. Louis brick.

"It doesn't alter the way the building was originally intended, originally designed," said Yackey.

Fitting, then, that the original architect of the Saucer, Richard Henmi, dropped by, a surprise appearance.  

"I never saw a building get so much attention," he said, with a cheerful grin. "I have a lot of other major buildings, and nothing has gotten this much attention."

To be sure, Henmi approved of the proposed new look.

"It's good," he said. "It's pretty much keeps the original intention."

According to Yackey, the design, drawn up by the local architecture firm Klitzing Welsch Associates, was based on the original style of the building, which, he said, had glass walls back in the day.

He added that he remained in talks with two potential tenants -- "national retailers."

While Yackey wouldn't go into specifics, he did drop hints as to what might be in store. He mentioned that it would be a place where people could kick back and drink coffee and that there would be outdoor seating -- suggesting that the Saucer could become home to an eatery or cafe of some kind.

Yackey also asserted that whatever the building becomes, it would not be open 24/7, as Del Taco's open-all-night hours played a primary role in the high rate of crime around the property. Moreover, he envisions that crime won't be as big of an issue at the new-and-improved Saucer because each of the two potential retailers have "a better operator than the last one." The operator of the Del Taco branch, if you recall, was criticized for taking poor care of the property, before eventually falling behind on lease payments and declaring bankruptcy, which led to the franchise's decision to close up shop in the first place.

Before the renovation can begin, Yackey must wait for the Preservation Board to approve the design. He anticipates that they will.


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