Archive for April, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rain Postpones Land Lab Groundbreaking But Can’t Dampen Enthusiasm & National Exposure

Due to the drizzly weather today, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sustainable Land Lab project has been postponed until a later date.  Watch for details later on the re-scheduled date.

Despite the rain, work crews from some of the Land Lab projects were on-site today to begin transforming the empty lots into attractive and functional demonstrations of positive re-uses of vacant land in the city.

The Mighty Mississippians crew was willing to brave the elements to begin planting on the lot at 13th and Montgomery.

The Mighty Mississippians crew was willing to brave the elements to begin planting on the lot at 13th and Montgomery.

The Bistro Box team installed a signboard to show visitors what will be coming to the northeast corner of 13th and Montgomery.

The Bistro Box team installed a signboard to show visitors what will be coming to the northeast corner of 13th and Montgomery.

Although the ceremonial kick-off didn’t happen, that hasn’t stopped the buzz and outside interest in the project.  Yesterday the American Public Radio program, Marketplace, broadcast a story about the Land Lab on public radio stations across the country (including St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 FM).  Click on the image below (or HERE) to read the text version of the story or to listen to the story online.

Thank you to St. Louis Public Radio reporter Adam Allington for getting this story out to the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, at the corner of N. 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue, work is being completed on a major upgrade to the Crown Square plaza space across the street from Crown Candy Kitchen.

Made possible with financial support from Equifax Foundation and the Regional Business Council, the project was planned and coordinated by Rebuilding Together St. Louis.  Volunteer crews fromScottrade and Equifax put in a lot of labor over the past few days to achieve these great improvements.

With covered outdoor seating, we look forward to attracting some of the customers at Crown Candy who just can’t wait for a table inside and other visitors to the community.  And, the covered stage area will also be a great amenity for our live music and other performers who come out to the North City Farmers’ Market and other events throughout the year.

Thank you again to all of the volunteers, Equifax, Scottrade, Rebuilding Together St. Louis, and all who contribute their time and resources to help us beautify and improve Old North!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thank You to All of Today’s Volunteers

We’re in the midst of last minute preparations for this evening’s Trivia Night for North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden, but we first would like to thank all of the volunteers who joined us today and put in hundreds of hours of hard work on neighborhood improvement projects that otherwise would have taken us weeks to complete.

It all started with the St. Louis Rams, who then reached out to Monsanto.  Eventually, we ended up with about 100 outside volunteers who came in to work in multiple teams led by ONSLRG staff and board members and neighborhood residents.

The following are just some of the photos of the hard work put in by these generous individuals.  Click HERE to see more photos in our Volunteers folder on our Facebook site.

Thanks to the assistance of the employee-volunteers from the St. Louis Rams and Monsanto, and other volunteers from Old North (and our practicum students Kristin and Becky), we were able to get new street trees planted along Montgomery and N. 13th Street, a trench dug and a new irrigation system installed at the 13th Street Community Garden, the garden’s storage shed got pointed (and much other garden work got done), weeds got pulled at Wingmann Park, and we even were able to get tables and chairs moved down the street and set up in the former Sobel Dept. Store building in time for this evening’s trivia night.  Thank you again to all for all of your help!

Later we’ll be posting a big thank you to all of the volunteers who are working at this very minute to make it possible for the trivia night to happen!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trivia Night Just 2 Days Away… But Still Time to Join Us!

If supporting 2 great causes isn’t enough, we’ve got a lot of other good reasons for you to attend the 3rd Annual Old North Trivia Night benefit for North City Farmers’ Market and 13th Street Community Garden.  The following represents our Top 10 reasons to attend the trivia night THIS FRIDAY, April 19, at 7 p.m.:

(1) complimentary beverages, courtesy of Six Row Brewing Co. and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.;

(2) an opportunity to enjoy the company of a great mix of passionate and engaged community residents and friends of Old North;

(3) a silent auction featuring many incredible items, including:

  • St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia (such as items autographed by the late, great Stan Musial);
  • Posters from Firecracker Press;
  • Delmar Loop package, with gift certificates to events at the Tivoli and the Pageant;
  • many other items from Left Bank Books, Washington Avenue Post, the Curio Shoppe, Black Bear Bakery, knitted items from Norah Ryan… and even more come;

(4) an opportunity to spend a Friday evening in the award-winning Crown Square (2010 “Overall Excellence in Historic Preservation” Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation & HUD Secretary) in the heart of an award-winning community (2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from EPA and 2013 Growing Green Award from U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway chapter, among others);

(5) this year’s event will take place in the spacious former Sobel Dept. Store building at 2612-24 N. 14th Street (see below), which means you’ll have plenty of breathing room and won’t have to worry about the competitors at the next table overhearing all of your good answers;

2612-24 N. 14th Street, before & after Crown Square redevelopment

2612-24 N. 14th Street, before & after Crown Square redevelopment

(6) door prizes, 50-50 raffle, and other opportunities to win a variety of unique items;

(7) cash prize for the winning team;

(8) the chance to exercise your brain and challenge your memory - and if you’re good, you can show off how smart you are; if you’re not so adept at trivial matters, you can demonstrate how good you are at not sweating the small stuff;

OK, we said there are plenty of reasons to attend Friday night other than the next 2, but we can’t have a Top 10 list without the most important reasons:

(9) help make it possible for the 13th Street Community Garden to continue growing some great, fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables for residents of Old North, some of which is made available for sale at Old North Grocery Co-op and North City Farmers’ Market;

(10) help make it possible for Old North St. Louis Restoration Group to cover the costs of coordinating North City Farmers’ Market throughout the market’s 7th season!

So, now that we’ve convinced you, here are the not-so-trivial facts to remember:

When: Friday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Tickets: $15/person or $100/table of 8

How to RSVP: stop by the ONSRLG Offices (2700 North 14th Street), or call (314) 241-5031, or send an e-mail to

Please help us spread the word by passing this along to others who might be interested.  We’ll look forward to seeing you Friday evening!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And the Winners of the Land Lab Competition Are…

From the official press release put out by the City of St. Louis and Washington University:

The City of St. Louis is poised to lead the way in innovative solutions to the national urban issue of vacant land, thanks to a unique partnership between the city and Washington University.

Four of the City’s vacant lots will be the new home for five demonstration projects that test new ways to think of vacant space. From a franchise-model urban farm co-existing next to an intimate bistro built out of re-used shipping containers, to a sunflower lab piloting efficiency of plant-based soil remediation, Old North St. Louis will be the first home to what will truly be a Sustainable Land Lab.

Winners of the inaugural Sustainable Land Lab Competition are:

Bistro Box and Our Farm: The Bistro Box concept is a small business incubator that transforms surplus cargo containers into a compact restaurant and culinary destination. Our Farm is a scalable urban agriculture network that proposes to transform blighted lots into cost efficient models of sustainability. **This is a hybrid of two finalist teams sharing a single lot due to the synergy between the two projects**

Chess Pocket Park: An outdoor community chess venue for residents with a permanent location supporting our primary community asset – people.

Mighty Mississippians: A modern agricultural and sustainable living model, the premises for this approach are rooted in regional history, the Mississippians and their ancestors, as well as modern permaculture practices. Using concepts of permaculture, the site will demonstrate the interdependent relationships that work efficiently and sustainably in nature and that worked for previous civilizations, from the soil to the birds, to humans.

Sunflower+ Project: Proposes turning previously developed urban lots into a community asset through the planting of sunflowers. With a goal of eventually spurring redevelopment of these vacant parcels, the project will serve as an appropriate, scalable and productive transitional solution.The sunflowers will improve soil quality, remove soil contaminants, and eventually produce a marketable set of products from flowers to seeds to biodiesel.

Each winning project will receive a two-year land lease and $5,000 seed money to start their project.

In the inaugural year of this city-wide competition, the pilot sites will be hosted in Old North St. Louis.

“The Sustainable Land Lab Competition is exploring innovative ideas for a national issue,” says Phil Valko, director of sustainability at the university.

“From urban to suburban to rural communities, vacant land is an American epidemic. This competition is adding to the dialogue and the body of problem solving,” he says. “The aspect that makes it especially unique is that the winners will actually win access to land and money to build their idea. The partnership between the city and Washington University in St. Louis is of great benefit to both. It leverages the university’s role as a thought-leader and research institution to channel creative thinking to a major challenge the city faces.”

The competition timing aligns well with the release of the first City of St. Louis Sustainability Plan.

“Advancing tangible and measureable sustainability has been an important goal of this project,” says Catherine Werner, sustainability director for the City of St. Louis. “Part of the challenge was for the teams to specifically address how their projects will help achieve the city’s sustainability goals. It’s very exciting to now have the opportunity to watch as creative sustainability ideas become reality.”

“I am thrilled that we have been able to partner with Washington University on this project,” says St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “There was an overwhelming amount of interest and support from the community and the result was a high level of energy and an impressive array of final project ideas. It was difficult to select just a few winning projects. I look forward to celebrating and learning from the winning projects and using ideas from all the projects involved to address vacant land use in the city.”

The winning teams will present their ideas during a public forum at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Bridge, 1004 Locust St. in St. Louis.

Forty-eight teams applied in the first of a three-round competition. The final round consisted of eight ideas representing 10 of the original teams.

All of the submissions can be found online at

The competition brief, which outlines the goals and context for this initiative, can be found online at

The Sustainable Land Lab is a partnership between Washington University and the City of St. Louis, with support from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Equifax and the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance.

It is the ongoing legacy of Washington University’s three-day Sustainable Cities Conference, held Nov. 1-3, 2012. The Sustainable Land Lab is designed to be a living laboratory of two-year demonstration projects, which will showcase innovative ideas and integrated strategies for transforming one of the region’s greatest challenges — vacant land — into an asset that can advance sustainability.

Please join us this evening in celebrating the completion of the selection process.

The official groundbreaking and start of work on these projects will take place on Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. The locations are marked on the map below.

Images of the projects (below) were part of the groups’ final concept boards submitted for Round 3.

Selected for Lot 1 at 2711 N. 14th Street:  Chess Pocket Park

Selected for Lot 4 at 1318-24 Warren:  Sunflower + Project

Selected for Lot 5 at 1300-06 Montgomery:  Mighty Mississippians

Selected for Lot 6 at 1303 Motgomery: Bistro Box and Our Farm

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Latest E-Newsletter & Invitations to Join us for Land Lab Celebration (THIS Thurs.) & Trivia Night (next Fri.)

If you didn’t get our latest e-Newsletter in your in-box, click the image below to view the web-version. And if you’d like to get on the subscription list to receive these periodic messages in your in-box, just send an email to and put “subscribe to e-newsletter” in the subject line or in the message.

Within this issue, please take note of two special events coming up that we invite you to attend:

1) Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. - Celebration & reception in honor of the Sustainable Land Lab Competition winning projects at Bridge, 1004 Locust Street in Downtown St. Louis.

2) Next Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m. - 3rd annual Trivia Night to benefit North City Farmers’ Market and 13th Street Community Garden at 2612 N. 14th Street.


::::::  Sustainable Land Lab Celebration  ::::::

The jury for the Sustainable Land Lab Competition has made their selections - and the winners will be announced on Thursday.  Come out to celebrate with the winners and hear their presentations on what they’ll be doing on the selected lots in the Crown Square area of Old North.  We’re hoping representatives from the teams that did not get selected through this process will also be in attendance, so this should provide another opportunity to lobby them to pursue their concepts at other sites in Old North. The event will take place at Bridge in Downtown at 1004 Locust.  Doors open at 6 with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m.  See the flyer below for more details.

:::::::  Trivia Night  :::::::

Whether you’re a trivia buff or just enjoy being around a lot of cool people - come on out on Friday, April 19 for a fun time in support of two great causes.

The trivia night to benefit North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden has become an annual tradition now.  As the photo above shows, we had a full house at last year’s event - and advance reservations for this year have already exceeded last year’s number.  So, by popular demand, we’re moving the event across Montgomery Street to the former Sobel Dept. Store building at 2612-24 N. 14th Street.

With a little more than a week to go, you still have time to get your team together. We’ll have some light refreshments and complimentary beverages courtesy of Six Row Brewery and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. The cost is $15 per person or a table of 8 is just $100.  If you want to come but can’t drum up 7 friends to go in on a table, you still can participate!  In addition to fun questions and prizes, we’ll have superb silent auction items (including some great Cardinals memorabilia) and more.

To reserve your space, call the ONSLRG office at 314-241-5031 or send an email to

And… even if you can’t attend the trivia night, you can still support ONSLRG’s work to bring healthy and affordable foods to Old North as part of our comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy.  All of these projects take a lot of time and coordination - and we need your financial support to continue this work.  Please make a contribution today! Click HERE or on the button below to make a secure, online contribution.  Or, if you’d like to discuss other ways to contribute, give us a call.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Celebrate Crown Square’s Newest Commercial Tenant: Blackmun Footcare Grand Opening Sat., April 6

All residents of Old North and friends of the community are invited (and strongly encouraged!) to welcome Dr. Annessa Blackmun to Crown Square this Saturday from 3-6 p.m.

Blackmun Footcare will occupy space in the building that had originally been built for Peters Brothers Dry Goods and Clothing Co. in 1881 (with an addition in 1888).  In 1928, the building became home to the first J.C. Penney store in St. Louis.

The Peters Bros. Dry Goods & Clothing Co. building in the 1890s (source unknown).

The Peters Bros. Dry Goods & Clothing Co. building in the 1890s (source unknown).

The Peters Dry Goods building in the 1920s prior to the arrival of J.C. Penney's.

The Peters Dry Goods & Clothing Co. building 85 years ago, prior to the arrival of J.C. Penney's

After J.C. Penney moved out in 1975, the ground floor space housed a variety of different stores, including Gervich Furniture and Western Auto.

2600-10 N. 14th Street in the late 1970s, after the street was converted to a pedestrian mall.

2600-10 N. 14th Street in the late 1970s, after the street was converted to a pedestrian mall.

Until the building was redeveloped as part of the Crown Square project, the building had been in rough condition for a number of years.

In 2005 the building was boarded up but still standing.

In 2005 the building was boarded up but still standing.

With residential units upstairs and on portions of the first floor (including the storefront at the far left), the building at 2600-2610 N. 14th is just days away from welcoming Blackmun Footcare.

With residential units upstairs and on portions of the first floor (including the storefront at the far left), the building at 2600-2610 N. 14th is just days away from welcoming Blackmun Footcare.

Please stop by between 3 and 6 p.m. on Saturday to thank Dr. Blackmun for bringing her business to Old North - and if you have any footcare needs, be sure to make an appointment while you’re at it.

Watch for more news soon about other soon-to-come commercial tenants at Crown Square. If you have other businesses that you’d like to see at one of the few remaining spaces, invite their owners to come on out Saturday to see what’s possible - or give Susan Sauer of Duffe-Nuernberger a call at 314-571-7654 or send her an email at


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.

  • RSS

    Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed (what's this?)