By Casey Nolen
St. Louis (KSDK) - There are new plans on the drawing board to rehab and re-use one of the most recognizable buildings in town.
That's after protests to save the Del Taco Building from demolition.
The entire complex near the east end of the St. Louis University campus could look a lot different in as little as six months from now, but the plan is to keep the saucer, the same -- and a small part of one man's legacy intact.
"Over the years buildings kind of go by the way-side. Fortunately too many of my buildings haven't been demolished yet. Most of them have been functional and still in use," says Richard Henmi.
The 87-year-old Henmi finally decided it was time for him to retire last year. An architect in St. Louis since 1947, he's had his hand in too many buildings to count.
"We felt that there was a need for some sort of an accent to this total complex," said Henmi sitting under the saucer shaped filling station turned fast food joint, known as the Del Taco building at Grand and Forest Park that he designed in the early 1960's.
Without a tenant, and tough to rent, it looked like developer Rick Yackey might demolish the building. But Wednesday he announced plans to restore and reuse the building -- adding about 1200 square feet and maintaining the original look.
"Everything. Total gut rehab," said Yackey. "We've invested a lot of money next door so we want something that appropriate and helpful as opposed to a detriment," he said, referring to the $70 million dollars he says his company has invested in the retail and residential complex that sits next the Del Taco building.
Henmi's design was saved in large part thanks to protests over its possible demolition both in the streets and online.
He says it would have been a shame to lose the building, and he's surprised to see some weren't ready for it to retire.
"I thought it was fantastic. I never saw that kind of a situation before pertaining to a building -- a building that I had been involved with anyway," said Henmi.
Yackey says he has interest from national retail brands to fill the building once it's complete -- including a yet-to-be-named national coffee retailer. He hopes to have the occupants moved in by March of 2012.