Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Opportunities for Redeveloping the Near North Side

In the aftermath of Governor Blunt’s veto of HB 327, we’ve heard from a lot of people who are wondering what that means for Old North St. Louis. The short answer is that whether or not the tax credit for land assemblage ever resurfaces, we will continue our work toward a comprehensive revitalization of Old North St. Louis in a manner that respects this neighborhood’s historic, cultural and urban character. We extend an invitation to any individual or developer who wants to work with the community in support of that mission. In fact, a few weeks ago, ONSLRG Board President John Burse (with some input from executive director Sean Thomas) drafted the following commentary and sent it to the Post-Dispatch, as a follow-up to their article on June 17:

For over 25 years the Old North St Louis Restoration Group has worked to revitalize the Old North St. Louis neighborhood – the historic district home to the venerable Crown Candy Kitchen. In recent years we have made tremendous progress.

North Market Place is a thriving redevelopment of new single family homes and work-force affordable historic apartments. Our efforts to save the historic Mullanphy Emigrant Home have gained momentum and captured community attention. The soon-to-break ground transformation of the 14th Street Mall area into a dynamic mixed use district will continue the work currently underway. The dollar figures involved are outstanding – totaling nearly $45 million – but such figures are abstract and hard to appreciate. What is palpable? The synergy of new families from all walks of life moving in to join a richly diverse community.

What have been the key ingredients in establishing progress? A community-based vision and the work of building strong working relationships are the core of our successes. The vision we have been working so diligently toward is based completely upon what area residents and stakeholders have identified as being a desirable outcome: a sustainable revitalization in a manner equitably respecting its physical and social character. The partnerships we have created with the Regional Housing & Community Development Alliance, Mayor Francis Slay, Alderwoman April Ford Griffin, government and not-for-profit agencies, foundations, and private enterprise have served to leverage the required expertise and energy. Without the vision and the relationships, we would certainly not be where we are today.

Recent media coverage regarding the now-vetoed Land Assembly Tax Credit highlighted Paul McKee’s involvement in our community and indicated that he is looking into partnering with others. The Post-Dispatch article of June 17 covered statewide interest in creating incentives to address challenges we are all-too-familiar with: assembling property to redevelop. The work we have underway has entailed a significant amount of arduous site assembly. Our hope is that when the General Assembly revisits the land assembly credit, it will refine this proposed tool to make it more useful on a scale appropriate to the grain and character of the city’s diverse and walkable neighborhoods.

As there is an abundance of opportunity to make a positive difference in the City’s revitalization, we welcome the interest of any developer who wants to work with the community in the pursuit of neighborhood revitalization. We have long recognized our work as setting the stage for others to join the chorus. To any partnership with developers committed to this vision, we bring a locally established presence, a strong advocacy for resident concerns, and the vision and capacity to realize opportunities inherent to our community.

Such a working partnership could leverage each partner’s strengths and ability to realize our goals many times over. Our position of trust within the community could be of assistance in developing a community-based vision for the broader near North side community. Such a dialogue is essential to generate trust and positive momentum. We would welcome an opportunity to develop and implement preservation planning for Paul McKee’s vast holdings of historic properties, along with any other owner of historic properties. As an advocate for the area, our “sales office” presence could even be of use marketing these properties to historic rehabbers or other developers.

These “what-ifs” only begin to touch on the value we could bring to such a partnership and the places we could go. Together our sense is that we could leverage each other’s vision and energy. We stand ready and willing to engage in dialogue with Paul McKee and other interested parties toward an outcome that is socially, ecologically, and financially positive for all.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 at 2:53 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


"Opportunities for Redeveloping the Near North Side"


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Welcome to the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group's blog. What's New in Old North chronicles the dramatic transformation under way in the neighborhood of Old North St. Louis. As a neighborhood just north of Downtown St. Louis, Old North is becoming a dynamic urban village of new and historic homes, a landmark eating establishment, beautiful community gardens, and a diverse, friendly, and engaged community.

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