A flying saucer-shaped former Del Taco, built in 1967 and slated for destruction this year, has been saved from the wrecking ball, thanks in part to an active Facebook campaign — and a personal plea from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
The building, which was originally a gas station, was due to be knocked down and replaced by new retail space. However, as the mayor pointed out, the owner had previously requested that it be granted landmark status:
The former gas station – now fast-food restaurant – is not everyone’s idea of an historic building. For one thing, it is not very old. For another, it looks like a spaceship. Still, its current owner thought enough of it that he included it in an application asking that it and several other buildings nearby be considered as a whole for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. That application was reviewed favorably by the Cultural Resources Office, the city’s Preservation Board, the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, and the National Park Service.
The mayor went on to say that the owner should “consider some of the many ideas offered for its reuse.” He was joined by St. Louis’ aldermen, who insisted that any plans to tear down the building be approved by the city’s Preservation Board. That move forced the owner to delay — though not necessarily cancel — his demolition plans.
The owner, developer Rick Yackey, now says he plans to hire an architect and investigate ways to reuse the building in its current form. “I’m a developer, not a demolition man,” he said in a statement sent to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Fans of “the spaceship” call it “a startling bit of Mid-Century design” and “an amusing piece of whimsy.” The Del Taco closed at the end of last month, and Yackey has called the building “functionally obsolete.” However, fans, including the mayor, have suggested that other local businesses, such as the Kaldi’s Coffee chain, could find a home there.