Thursday, March 4, 2010
This week ONSLRG welcomed Matt Fernandez as the organization’s new Community Development Specialist, which means Matt now is getting paid to show up for work every day, after the past several months as a part-time contract worker and two previous stints as an intern.
On his first full day on the job, Matt showed his willingness to do the dirty work of community development.
Already known to many in the neighborhood through his involvement in various projects over the past several years, Matt has been able to hit the ground running due to his familiarity with the community, the organization, and the broad range of issues affecting Old North. Meanwhile, Matt’s educational background is uniquely suited for working with us, not just because he has an undergrad degree in Urban Affairs and a master’s degree in Urban Planning & Real Estate Development. While those degrees are good training for neighborhood development work anywhere, Matt took that one step further and made Old North St. Louis the focus of his research throughout his education, including using his Master’s program “capstone project” to explore redevelopment options for the Mullanphy Emigrant Home area. In addition to his two internships with us, Matt also worked at Landmarks Association while he was in grad school and gained significant experience working on preservation issues.
One important part of the job of the Community Development Specialist is to meet with prospective homebuyers and/or people interested in rehabbing opportunities in Old North. As someone who has purchased a vacant, deteriorated building in the neighborhood and is in the midst of his own major rehab project, Matt can speak with credibility about the attraction of the neighborhood – and can offer firsthand insights about the process of putting together and managing a project. And, with direct experience with the challenges of construction & historic rehab, Matt can speak the language of the construction contractors and development partners we have to deal with in our current and future projects.
Another key factor in Matt’s selection was his demonstrated willingness to do whatever needs to be done – whether that means mopping the floor, carting tables and chairs, swinging a hammer, scheduling an appointment with an appraiser, or meeting with a real estate agent at odd hours. Matt was able to put those skills to work on his first full day on the job, this past Monday when an army of 40 college students arrived to tackle some of the interior clean-out of the future Old North Grocery Co-op building.
Matt (in the brown jacket, back to the camera) providing last-minute instructions to the volunteers from Students Today-Leaders Forever on Monday.
If you’d like to send your own welcome to Matt - or ask him about homebuying or rehab opportunities in Old North, send him an email at Matt@onsl.org or give him a call at the ONSLRG office, 314-241-5031, ext. 101.