Archive for the ‘Awards and honors’ Category

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Community Development Rocks! 3 Reasons to Go to Benefit Concert for ONSLRG on Sat., Nov. 2

November 2 is right around the corner, so get your tickets now for the Community Development Rocks! benefit concert featuring the critically acclaimed band, Five Eight, and the locally loved band, Last to Show First to Go.  Proceeds from this benefit will help Old North St. Louis Restoration Group continue the good work of revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of the Old North neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

If you’re wondering why you should buy as many tickets as you can afford for the Nov. 2 concert, we offer a few reasons to think about:

(1) Great music

According to NPR’s All Songs Considered, Five Eight is one of the top five bands that should be way bigger than they are.  St. Louis fans of Five Eight - and many who are just getting to know them - are excited about the rare opportunity to see the indie rock veterans in the Gateway City.  The band has agreed to travel all the way from Athens, Georgia, to perform at this benefit for ONSLRG.

Although Last to Show First to Go is a local band - which means you may have seen them before and likely will get many other opportunities to see them - it’s worth pointing out to those unfamiliar with them how good they are.  Here’s one review by Annie-Rose Fondaw on KDHX:

“On first listen, Last to Show First to Go appears to have its roots down in the landscape of heartland rock ‘n’ roll. Lead singer Bredon Jones’ earnest, earthy vocals lie simply against a backdrop of acoustic guitar, drums and vocal harmonies, all bolstered by a double bass. Yet as each song unfolds, it’s clear that Last to Show First to Go has a flair for genre-bending. From Jay Lewis’ rippling cello arpeggios to Miriam Keller’s jazz-infused trumpet, the band embraces a wide variety of sounds and textures. And lo and behold, they pull it off. What could easily veer into a trite modernization of the down-home Americana genre instead becomes a singular, engaging sound.”

(2) A Really Cool Venue

Plush, located at 3224 Locust between Compton and Grand, has earned a reputation as one of the hippest, hottest, coolest (or whatever term you’d use for the highest level of a positive experience) venues for food, drink, and live music in St. Louis.  One recent review on Yelp described Plush as “as good at it gets,” while a review in the Riverfrtont Times last year was headlined, “Plush is the most ambitious drinking, dining and dance establishment St. Louis has seen in a decade.”  Get your tickets now to check out Plush in person on Saturday, Nov. 2.  And, if you can get there for dinner before the concert, be sure to mention that you’re there for the Community Development Rocks! concert to get a special deal on the meal.

The photo above is by Kate McDonald from St. Louis Magazine’s 2012 “A List” issue, which included Plush among their “Night Life” awards in the “Dinner and Dance” category.

(3) And, of course, a chance to support a Great Cause

When you support ONSLRG, you support the cause of urban core revitalization implemented in a manner that respects the community that lives there.  The best way to respect the community is to pursue their vision and to involve them in the process of making that vision a reality.  That’s what ONSLRG has been doing since it was created by residents of Old North in 1981.  Everything ONSLRG does is rooted in a desire expressed by community residents.  That’s why ONSLRG has taken on…

the preservation of historic properties - from small, single-family homes to to multi-family, rental buildings to large, institutional buildings, such as the Mullanphy Emigrant Home…

coordinating a farmers’ market in the heart of Old North since 2007 to bring healthy & affordable foods to the neighborhood…

Hosting theater, film, photography exhibits, and other arts programming…

Beautifying Old North through tree-planting, community gardens, supporting other green investments, and regular neighborhood-wide clean-up days

Improving neighborhood safety by establishing a police substation at Crown Square, hosting neighborhood watch trainings, and coordinating implementation of the City’s “Neighborhood Ownership Model”…

Bringing residents together regularly to plan, discuss, and review ideas or proposals for development in Old North…

Plus, all sorts of community-building social events, and so much more!

In addition to supporting ONSLRG by buying concert tickets, you can also buy raffle tickets at the concert or before!  ONSLRG’s tireless intern, Chris Umbertino, has lined up some phenomenal prizes for a raffle drawing that will take place at the concert.  See the flyer below for details.

Raffle tickets will be sold at the concert, but you can also purchase them in advance - either in person at the ONSLRG office or online. Just follow the link below for online contributions - and make a contribution along WITH a note in the comments/special instructions or other notes section to alert us that the purpose is for raffle tickets in your name.

We’d love to get as many people out to Plush on November 2 as we can get to support ONSLRG and to show our appreciation for the generosity of Five Eight, Last to Show First to Go, and Plush; and we’d love it if you could purchase a large pile of raffle tickets as a way of letting the prize donors know their contributions were worth it.  However, we also are willing to accept good, old-fashioned direct contributions straight to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group.  We can accept contributions in whatever form you’d like to send us:  cash (please not through the mail, though); checks (which can be dropped off at our office or sent by mail to 2700 N. 14th Street, St. Louis, MO 63106); or by credit or debit card - either in person at our office or online via PayPal by clicking HERE now or by clicking on the image below.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Scenes from a Day-Long Celebration of a Neighborhood Revitalization in Progress

Thank you to all of our volunteers, sponsors, vendors, and musicians who participated in some capacity at yesterday’s Old North House & Community Tour, and special thanks to the the business-owners, homeowners and tenants who opened their homes or businesses to let hundreds of visitors wander through over the course of the day.

By all measures, the day was a great success.

Mayor Slay met neighborhood residents while attending the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Sustainable Land Lab projects.

The day started with the formal kick-off of the Sustainable Land Lab projects (re-scheduled from the rained out date in April), including a presentation to the 3 runner up projects and the 5 teams that were selected to implement their proposals on 4 lots in the Crown Square area.

Pablo Moyano Fernandez and Old North residents Gloria & Tom Bratkowski represented Hybrid Urban Bioscapes project.

Pablo Moyano Fernandez and Old North residents Gloria & Tom Bratkowski represented Hybrid Urban Bioscapes project.

After the start of the tour, the celebration continued at the corner of N. 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue, where representatives from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and RHCDA (co-owners / co-developers of the corner lot, which is part of the overall Crown Square redevelopment of the former 14th Street Pedestrian Mall) thanked Rebuilding Together St. Louis for coordinating the improvements to the corner plaza space, including the addition of tables with umbrellas, construction of the fence along the south and west sides of the space, new plantings, and the addition of a stage for public performances.  Also acknowledged were the many volunteers, including many from Scottrade and Equifax, financial support from Equifax and Regional Business Council, and contributed professional services from Sherwoods Forest, Kimberlin Construction, and IBEW-Local 1.

Neighbors from down the street came out to celebrate the first official event at the new & improved Crown Square corner plaza.

Dave Ervin, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together St. Louis, and RTSL’s Outreach Coordinator, Kuleya Bruce, acknowledged our appreciation and thanked all who helped them with the project before introducing local musician, Chris Ware for the first official performance on the stage.

Environmentally friendly shuttle service was provided by St. Louis 3 Wheel Taxi.

Volunteers, including Nolan (below), provided a variety of valuable services, including merchandise sales.

And the tour provided an opportunity to show off the diverse range of housing styles in Old North, from apartments to a loft-style conversion of a former warehouse (below).

And a number of number of historic houses…

The soon-to-come Chess Pocket Parkat 2713 N. 14th Street offered the opportunity to try out some chess moves throughout the day.

Another tour tradition is free ice cream, thanks to the generous donation from Crown Candy Kitchen.

Norah Ryan returned for the critical role of scooper and dispenser of ice cream.

The kickoff activities at the 5 Land Lab projects included:

The Sunflower+ project at 1318 Warren

Children from the neighborhood joined the Sunflower+ project coordinators in planting of sunflowers and other work at the project site.

The Mighty Mississippians at 1300-06 Montgomery

The Bistro Box at 1301-03 Montgomery

RR Farm, also at 1301-03 Montgomery

and Chess Pocket Park at 2713 N. 14th Street

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Old North House & Community Tour: 2 Days Away to Sat., May 18

We’re down to counting the hours now until our biggest event of the year - so any help you can offer in spreading the word about the Old North House & Community Tour would be greatly appreciated, and you still have time to let us know if you can volunteer to help out on the day of the tour.

If you still aren’t subscribed to receive our e-Newsletter, then you probably missed our most recent edition.  Click on the image below or click HERE to view the web version.  Once you’re there, be sure to click on the Facebook “Like” image and/or the Twitter “tweet” image to share via these social media tools.

We also have some updates on what else will be going on here on Saturday.

At 9:00 a.m., Mayor Slay and the organizers responsible for the Sustainable Land Lab competition will lead the official kick-off ceremonies marking the start of work at the 5 Land Lab projects in Old North.  This ceremony will start at 1318 Warren (as seen in the photo above, courtesy of Washington University’s Office of Sustainable Development), the site where the Sunflower + project is underway, and will then travel to the other 3 Land Lab lots.  Please join us for this celebration just prior to the start of the Old North House & Community Tour.

At 10 a.m., the House & Community Tour officially begins, with registration table at N. 14th & St. Louis Avenue (see photo below) opening to distribute tour booklets to those who’ve registered in advance or to sell tour tickets (at the day-of price of $12) and the environmentally-friendly, bicycle rickshaw shuttle service will start up for those who don’t want to walk between the stops.

At 10:30 a.m., we’ll celebrate the ceremonial, unveiling / ribbon-cutting of the recently improved Crown Square corner plaza, followed by performances on the new stage by local musician, poet, and spoken-word artist, Chris Ware, and later by Old North’s own favorite steel drum musician, Jamaica Ray.

The tour activities will continue until 4 p.m., featuring 20 stops, 4 of which are located in historically rehabbed buildings at Crown Square, including a residential apartment incorporating a portion of the mezzanine level of the former J.C. Penney building (originally built for the Peters Dry Goods & Clothing Co. in 1881), the recently-opened Blackmun Footcare in that same building, and the soon-to-open Kennedy’s Pet Shop at 2601 N. 14th (in the photo above).

Other stops include:

  • the 4 empty lots where 5 Sustainable Land Lab demonstration projects are being implemented;
  • 2 other businesses offering free treats to tour-goers, La Mancha Coffeehouse, which is offering free cups of coffee, and City Bar & Grill, which is offering free toasted ravioli;
  • 2 historically-rehabbed homes, which have won Landmarks Association “Most Enhanced” Awards in previous years (in addition to the Crown Square project, which also received one of these awards in 2010);
  • a “loft-style” conversion of a warehouse building into a living space and a separate sculpture studio;
  • a couple of historic houses that are still in the midst of major re-construction and rehabilitation after massive damage, from a fire at one and two-different storms at the other, that would have led to demolition in other neighborhoods;
  • the future home in Old North for the Episcopal Service Corps community later this year;
  • the Old North Grocery Co-op and 13th Street Community Garden;
  • the home of Northside Workshop, a community art space that opened last year; and
  • the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office and Gallery, where a new photography exhibit will have its opening on Saturday; this exhibit, titled “Revitalizing,” features photos from 6 neighborhoods (including Old North), where UMSL’s PPRC Photography Project worked with community residents.

As noted in Tuesday’s post, another tradition of this event is the treat of some ice cream from Crown Candy Kitchen (celebrating 100 years of service to Old North).  All tour-goers will receive a coupon for a free ice cream cup, redeemable at the Old North Gallery.

If you haven’t already clicked on the link above, click below to get your tickets while you can still take advantage of the advance ticket price of $10.

And, if for whatever reason, you’re still not convinced that something special is going on in Old North St. Louis, take another look at the YouTube video we prepared before last year’s tour to highlight the dramatic transformations in progress throughout Old North.

We look forward to seeing you again in Old North on Saturday!

[One last appeal: if you've got some time available and are willing to help out, we still could use a few more volunteers.  Give us a call at the ONSLRG office at 314-241-5031 or send an email to Claire Wolff:]

Sunday, March 31, 2013

ONSLRG Receives “Growing Green” Award for Leading Old North’s Transformation

This past Thursday the Missouri Gateway Region chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council presented Old North St. Louis Restoration Group with one of their 2013 Growing Green Awards in recognition of the dramatic transformation achieved in Old North in recent years and the role ONSLRG has played in leading the effort.  ONSLRG was nominated for the “Community Champion” award by Rosemann & Associates.  firm.

ONSLRG Board President Tino Ochoa and Executive Director Sean Thomas were on hand Thursday to receive the award.

The Executive Summary of the nomination by Rosemann highlights ONSLRG’s perspective that “sustainability is more than the built environment” and the organization’s “programming and activities to cultivate relationships among long‐time residents and newcomers.”

Many programs, including a multi‐pronged healthy eating strategy with a farmers’ market, produce‐growing community gardens, and a neighborhood‐owned grocery co‐op, enable residents to enjoy healthier lifestyles and enhance community connections. These and other examples are eloquent testimony to Old North’s commitment, community spirit, and leadership in creating a diverse, vibrant and sustainable community within the city of St Louis that can serve as a brilliant example of how true sustainability is conceived and practiced.

Recent events from the past couple weeks provide good illustrations of this commitment to community-building.  On the same evening as the Growing Growing Green Awards ceremony, the monthly Neighborhood Open Meeting was under way at the Old North Gallery, and last Sunday, ONSLRG hosted an event which will undoubtedly become a new spring tradition (even though we were still digging out from a good 10 inches of snow at the time):  a community celebration with children’s crafts, face-painting, and free photos with the Old North Easter Bunny.

Thank you Ann Hubbard of Photomaton for taking the pictures.

Thank you Ann Hubbard of Photomaton for taking the pictures.

Thank you Jessica Neal for handling the face-painting duties.

Thank you Jessica Neal for handling the face-painting duties.

Thank you to all of our staff , practicum students, and volunteers who make these events possible.  And because coordinating a neighborhood-wide revitalization strategy takes a lot of time and planning, we are lucky to have a professional staff and an office to coordinate the many details.  To help us cover these costs and to continue the work of facilitating a sustainable transformation, please make a contribution to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scenes from Land Lab Exhibit and Open Mic for Arts in Old North

Thank you to all of the residents and friends of Old North who came out to the Old North Gallery on Thursday evening to view the Sustainable Land Lab exhibit and afterwards to speak up for the arts in Old North.  As noted in our post from earlier on Thursday, the evening offered a convergence of art, sustainability, and community in the form of two, back-to-back events: a reception for the viewing of concept boards in the Sustainable Land Lab Competition, and an “open mic” session designed to allow residents and other community stakeholders an opportunity to express their thoughts on the presence of arts in Old North and their ideas for how additional support for the arts can help further the neighborhood’s revitalization.

Sustainable Land Lab Competition Exhibit Reception

St. Louis Beacon - Kresge Arts St. Louis Open Mic Event

Attendees were greeted with the upbeat steel drum music of Jamaica Ray.

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to share their perspectives and listen to each others' thoughts on the role of arts in Old North.

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to share their perspectives and listen to each others' thoughts on the role of arts in Old North.

William Burton Jr. of the 14th Street Artist Community discussed the capacity of the arts to bring different groups of people together.

William Burton Jr. of the 14th Street Artist Community discussed the capacity of the arts to bring different groups of people together.

Dave Eisenbraun shared his experience of raising three sons in Old North and how pleased he is that his son & daughter-in-law are raising his granddaughter in the neighborhood.

Dave Eisenbraun shared his experience of raising three sons in Old North and how pleased he is that his son & daughter-in-law are raising his granddaughter in the neighborhood.

ONSLRG's community engagement specialist, Claire Wolff, described how arts have been a key part of many of the group's initiatives, including music and children's activities at the North City Farmers' Market.

ONSLRG's community engagement specialist, Claire Wolff, described how arts have been a key part of many of the group's initiatives, including music and children's activities at the North City Farmers' Market.

Former ONSLRG intern M.K. Stallings talked about the power of poetry and how much the neighborhood has changed for the better over the past 10 years.

Former ONSLRG intern M.K. Stallings talked about the power of poetry and how much the neighborhood has changed for the better over the past 10 years.

Terry Harris, with his daughter Mhari at his side, shared why he and his family recently moved into Old North and what he appreciates about the arts programming for children that Old North already offers.

Terry Harris, with his daughter Mhari at his side, shared why he and his family recently moved into the neighborhood and what he appreciates about the arts programming for children that Old North already offers.

We had many more who took their turn at the microphone and offered their testimonials about Old North, but due to space limitations, we can’t acknowledge or show you all of them.  However, please check out the St. Louis Beacon’s report on the event, which includes a brief summary and a video of selections from the meeting.  Click HERE for their report, “Old North residents celebrate rebirth, discuss what can be.”

If you couldn’t make it to the event but still want your voice to be heard, you can express your thoughts, ideas, hopes or other observations online, through Wednesday, March 27, by clicking HERE.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tonight: Come See the Works of a Neighborhood Artist, Review the Land Lab Concepts, & Share Your Thoughts About Art in Old North

Starting at 5 p.m. this evening, we’re hosting a great mix of conversation and community engagement around the issues of art, open space, and community sustainability.   Please join us for all of the above, and enjoy some tasty refreshments while you’re at it.

On your way to the events at the Old North Gallery (2700 N. 14th Street, just one block south of Crown Candy Kitchen), please take some time to appreciate the artwork on display in several of the storefronts along the 2600 and 2700 blocks of N. 14th Street.  In addition to the art that can be seen regularly at St. Louis ArtWorks (2707 N. 14th Street) and the 14th Street Artist Community (2701 N. 14th Street), we are pleased to announce that Old North resident Marguerite Corey has graciously allowed some samples of her incredible artwork to be put on exhibit in the windows of other buildings at Crown Square for a limited time.

Marguerite’s work involves paper folded into a variety of shapes and 3-dimensional objects, often with backlighting to allow the pieces to be seen at night and to feature the different shades of paper or to bring out the the dimension and depth of the items.

Please view Marguerite’s work at 2601, 2607-09, 2617, and 2700 N. 14th Street.  This last address is the office of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group (see below), in the windows near the main entrance to the office, not the gallery entrance.

After you’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to view Marguerite’s artwork, come on down to the Old North Gallery to see the exhibit of display boards from the Sustainable Land Lab Competition.  Members of the teams behind the proposed projects will be on hand to discuss their concepts for temporary re-uses of empty lots in a way that demonstrates sustainability.  And since not all of the concepts will be selected through this competition for implementation on 4 lots in Old North, this informal gathering offers a good setting for a conversation about how the project concepts might be implemented elsewhere in Old North (or other neighborhoods) apart from the competition.

The Land Lab exhibit reception runs from 5 - 7 p.m.

More details about the Sustainable Land Lab Competition can be found at the site maintained by Washington University’s Office of Sustainability by clicking HERE.

Then, at 7 p.m., we’ll play host to an event brought to us by the St. Louis Beacon and the Kresge Foundation. The Kresge Foundation has awarded a planning grant to the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation to partner with the Arts and Education Council and the Regional Arts Commission to identify neighborhoods where a stronger arts presence can serve as a tipping point for sustainability and vitality. We are very pleased that Old North is one of 4 neighborhoods in St. Louis under consideration through this planning process.  Tonight’s “Open Mic” event will provide residents and friends of Old North - and anyone else who cares - an allotment of 3-minutes each to express their thoughts on how the arts are present in Old North today, how the arts have played a role in the community’s revitalization to date, and how additional support for the arts can stimulate or foster even more community rejuvenation.

The “open mic” session is scheduled to last no more than an hour.  If you’d like to take a turn at the microphone to share your opinion, please arrive by 6:30 p.m. to sign up to speak.

We will have refreshments at both of the events thanks to generous contributions from Washington University Office of Sustainability and the St. Louis Beacon.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

ONSLRG’s e-Newsletter, Article on “Characters” of Old North, + Reminder about ONSLRG Annual Meeting

The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group e-Newsletter is out.  If you didn’t get this in your email in-box, click HERE to view the web-version.

Within this edition, you’ll find:

  • Another Invitation to Join Us on Monday, Feb. 18th for ONSLRG’s Annual Meeting & Pot-Luck Supper
  • link to our YouTube video with very rapid-pace overview of most of the events, activities, and developments in Old North during 2012 (or you can just click HERE to see it)
  • link to a story and video in the St. Louis Beacon about Old North as a “Web of Artists, Rehabbers, and General Characters” (or you can just click HERE)
  • Congratulations (again) to Tino Ochoa for his being names one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40″ individuals who are making a difference in St. Louis
  • Information about our “Brickstarter” campaign to raise funds for the stabilization and preservation of Old North’s architectural integrity, starting with the majestic, brick building at 1316 North Market
If you’d like to get added to our subscribers list to receive our e-newsletters directly in your email inbox, click on the Sign Up button just under the top images on the main page of
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ONSLRG’s Blog Among Finalists for RFT’s 2013 Web Awards

This very blog is among the four finalists for the Riverfront Times 2013 Web Awards in the category of “Best Neighborhood Blog,” as announced in the Jan. 11 edition of the Daily RFT.

Winners will be announced later tonight at the “exclusive awards ceremony” - and we’ll be sure to post the news here if we come home with the award.  In the meantime, thank you to any and all who nominated us, and thank you to the judges for selecting this blog to be recognized among some rather impressive other blogs.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

ONSLRG Board President Tino Ochoa Selected for Business Journal’s 40 Under 40

Congratulations to Tino Ochoa, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s Board President, who was selected by the St. Louis Business Journal for inclusion in their latest class of “40 Under 40″ honorees!  The full St. Louis Business Journal issue with complete bios won’t be out until February, but the names were released yesterday by email and posted on their website.  Click HERE to take a look.

The photo above was when Tino received yet another award upon graduation from law school.  We'll get a new photo of him receiving the 40 Under 40 Award when that happens.

The photo above of Tino (with his wife Zoila) was when Tino received yet another award upon graduation from law school. We'll get a new photo of him receiving the 40 Under 40 Award when that happens.

The prestigious “40 Under 40″ honor goes each year to 40 individuals who are under the age of 40 and have earned recognition for significant contributions to the St. Louis area in various fields.  Tino’s predecessor as ONSLRG Board President, John Burse, was also a 40 Under 40 honoree several years ago.

We’ll post more information about the award when it gets published.  In the meantime, if you see Tino out and around the neighborhood, be sure to wish him congratulations!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

15 Land Lab Proposals Selected to Proceed to Next Round of Competition

As noted here previously, Old North St. Louis is the pilot neighborhood for a new initiative seeking creative ideas for sustainable uses of empty land in the city.  The Sustainable Land Lab competition, sponsored and led by Washington University’s Office of Sustainability and the City of St. Louis, is an open call for proposals from anyone who wishes to participate - and take responsibility for implementing their ideas.  Six lots in Old North have been identified, 4 of which will be selected.  Winning teams will receive $5,000 in funding to implement and maintain their projects as living laboratories, teaching tools, and regional sustainability assets for two years.

After receiving and reviewing 48 submissions, the jury for the competition announced yesterday their selections for proposals to advance to the second round of the competition.  The full list of 48 concepts submitted for consideration represented a broad range of innovative and inspiring ideas, including: habitat for pollinators, carbon sequestering landscape, pop-up business incubators, modular sustainable in-fill, engaging public spaces, platforms for sharing community resources, soil remediation, designs informed by ethnohistorical sustainability practices, on-site energy production, and much more.

Below are concept summaries of the 15 submissions (listed alphabetically) moving to the next round:

Bistro Box

Site Selection: Lot 6, 1303 Montgomery

Concept & Team Summary:

The Bistro Box concept is a small business incubator that transforms surplus cargo containers into a compact restaurant and culinary destination. Young chef entrepreneurs seeking to establish a reputation apply for a 1-year fellowship residence. A consortium of established local chefs advise the young chefs and promote the concept to assure its exposure and success. At completion of the residency, chefs prepare a business plan for post residency location within the neighborhood and a new chef is engaged. The program hires and trains young people from the neighborhood in culinary skills and uses locally sourced product. Lot 6 is the preferred site for the Bistro Box where synergies can be established with the Old North Grocery Store and garden and local employment opportunities can be provided for Haven of Grace residents.

The project team includes landscape architect Jim Fetterman, architect John Burse and chef/restaurateur Ben Poremba.

Carbon Carpet

Site Selection: Lot 4. 1318-24 Warren St

Concept & Team Summary:

Plant a native grass + forb garden using 5″ deep cell plant plugs. Mimic the pattern of a Persian Rug (hard geometry, bilateral symmetry) Provide a ‘living teaching lab’ for purpose of educating about carbon sequestration.

Chess Pocket Park

Site Selection: LOT 1, 2713 North 14th Street

Concept & Team Summary:

COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY supported through Chess Pocket Park – outdoor community chess venue for residents with a permanent location supporting our primary community asset – its people.

CHESS IS SUSTAINABLE. “According to research, test scores improved by 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.6% for children participating in other forms of enriched activities,” states 4-time World Champion Susan Polgar in an interview.

CHESS CAN BUILD A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY. A location for a local chess club to combine chess lessons, community chess mentors, and a system of maintaining the grounds as part of the club ethic teaches sustainable lessons about systems and materials, community values, and strategic thought.

CHESS POCKET PARK SUSTAINABILITY will be devoted to a replicable model of simplicity and community strength. Utilizing community resources, sustainable design and construction features, chess lessons from the community and the Scholastic Center of St Louis, commitment from the community and local artists to develop art on the adjacent building and to participate in garden maintenance, our balanced team can partner with community leaders to develop the concept, focus on sustainable development, construct the park and garner public financial support.


Site Selection: Lot 5, 1300 – 06 Montgomery Street

Concept & Team Summary:

LAND LAB Proposal

Lessons from the Past


Eight hundred years ago the Mississippian culture thrived as one of the most advanced civilizations of its time. The culture was centered at Cahokia, across the Mississippi River from what we know to be St. Louis today. The culture established settlements throughout the region. At the homestead level, the Cahokians relied on strong kinship networks to provide for all basic human needs in what today would be called a model of sustainable living.

Today, much of sustainable design solutions and engineering strategies that address modern human needs tend to take a high-technology route. Our proposal is to demonstrate a pre-Columbian baseline to re-discover practices that supported life for thousands of years. The site will demonstrate practices and technologies that evolved over millennia to explore what we might have forgotten and to seek potential clues for sustainable urban redevelopment.


We propose a modern agricultural and sustainable living model, the premises for our approach rooted in regional history, the Mississippians and their ancestors, as well as modern permaculture practices. Using concepts of permaculture, the site would 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.


The Land Lab concepts would serve as a model for not just urban homesteaders but for the community: a more sustainable agricultural model predicated on community relationships, biodiversity and natural, sustainable principles.

Team Lead: Christner Dan Jay Principal in Charge Laurel Harrington Director of Landscape Architecture Emily Wray Architect

Team Partner: Missouri Botanical Garden Deborah Chollet Frank

Team Resources: Ethno Botany: Missouri Botanical Garden; Habitat and Structures: Cahokia Mounds Historic Site; Data Mapping: Laurie Harmon, PhD, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse; Sustainability: Mary Ann Lazarus

CORE – Community Oriented Retail Enterprise

Site Selection: Lot 2, 2709 North 14th Street

Concept & Team Summary:

CORE is the Community Oriented Retail Enterprise. An economic opportunity for neighborhood residents to set up a light manufacturing and retail enterprise in a movable, temporary, green building that adds to residents understanding of the entrepreneurial cycle, from design to production and sales while keeping local dollars at home and pulling in revenue from outside the region. when it accomplishes its mission CORE moves on acting as an incubator till fledgling businesses can move into permanent structures.


Site Selection: Lot 4, 1318-1324 Warren Street

Concept & Team Summary:

Activating Capacities

We seek to develop design prototypes for parcel 4 which can be projected into a larger vision for re-modeling energy and water infrastructures at neighborhood and city scales. We seek to design an infrastructure that expands the term “land value” away from limiting monetary references and towards natural resource, environmental quality, social sustainability, livability and aesthetic concerns as well.

In North St. Louis, the urban geography is described by logics reliant on segregated, centralized energy production and distribution. This creates a fragmented landscape of charged and unequal zones dependent on a polluting and limited resource. Yet solar, wind and cellulosic energy are three types of renewable sources inherent to the Midwest and St. Louis region. Not only can these sources be harnessed for energy, but they can be used to remediate, bring community safety and public delight. Our project seeks to activate and build capacities on the site: Energy capacities, land and landscape system capacities, and community capacities.

Solar power (unlike conventional coal-fueled power) is capable of being stored and shared laterally. We ask, how can the development of sites and cities grow from a new, open-sourced (but ecologically complete) configuration of exchange and distribution?


Site Selection: Lot 5, 1300-06 Montgomery Street

Concept & Team Summary:

Shrinking cities can play a positive role in helping to reverse the damage of urban sprawl. Vacant properties can restore urban ecosystems by linking to a productive event chain that increases biodiversity and lowers carbon emissions by producing energy, recycling water, filling food deserts, promoting local business, and improving public health.

We have chosen to transform the existing greenfield in Lot #5 into a productive landscape and a public space. The intention is to share knowledge and strategies with local residents about how to cultivate and maintain a food producing garden while having a place to gather. Families, groups, and individuals will be encouraged to take responsibility over small garden areas.

In our proposed design, a grid is imposed to the lot, subdividing the site into zones. These areas are not only defined in plan but in section; the change in elevation helps determine its use. We have designed five concrete pavers that incrementally increase in porosity in response to different uses: walking, biking, playing/leisure, planting, etc. Open areas will be planted with various vegetables and plants for the residents’ consumption and sale. We also propose to build a light structure to provide shade for a produce stand and storage.


Site Selection: Lot 5, 1300-06 Montgomery Street

Concept & Team Summary:

Access to information, education and people can be leveraged to increase life opportunities. Areas of vacant land separate people and limit gathering opportunities essential to building community, exchanging knowledge, and networking.

NEXtUS! is a location-specific knowledge and community-building gateway built around five primary components:

• Technology Hearth

• Gathering Place

• Shade and Energy Structure

• Active Learning Area

• Site Amenities

The Technology Hearth is a durable electronic portal to virtual educational and informational content selected for potential interest, meaning and effect in a given area. “What’s NEXt? During non-programmed periods, the Tech Hearth is opened to future NEXtUS! Tech Hearths and web nodes for cultural exploration – “Who’s NEXt?”

The Gathering Place surrounds the Technology Hearth and provides seating, leaning and standing areas for program guests and discussion events.

The Shade and Energy Structure protects the gathering area and provides energy for the Technology Hearth.

The Active Learning Area attracts younger ages, and supports those wishing to partake in TH program events. Recycled tires and berms are organized to produce an active learning and play experience.

Site Amenities enhance the NEXtUS! location and leverage natural systems to manage rainwater, heat island, and create a defined sense of place.

Who’s NEXt? US!

R & B

Site Selection: Lot 1, 2713 N. 14th street

Concept & Team Summary:

We propose a modular, mobile resource center for materials and knowledge for neighborhood residents, property owners, businesses, employees and volunteers. This resource center is based on standard shipping containers (10’, 20’ and 40’ lengths) that are dropped into any accessible location and can be camouflaged to blend in. Using a central location where resources can be shared is much more sustainable model than individual ownership of such items, whether one is talking about tools (for residential construction, gardening, vehicle repair, information technology), infra-structure (bicycles, cars, WiFi, emergency generators), or know-how (instructional literature, lessons-learned, training, exhibits, meetings). This concept supports the triple bottom-line of economic, environmental and societal benefits.


Resources are made available that stimulate investment in “the neighborhood”. Money is not spent on resources that are used infrequently (tillers? Snow blowers?).


Reducing consumption by sharing instead of hoarding has far-reaching environmental benefits reaching all the way back up the supply chain. Promote the dissemination of sustainable practices at the local level.


Humans interacting by sharing knowledge and resources is fundamental to improving the human condition. Our concept proposes to do this within the context of sustainable neighborhood development.

Renewing Roots Urban Farm

Site Selection: Lot 6, 1303 Montgomery Street

Concept & Team Summary:

Renewing Roots Urban Farms is a scalable urban agriculture network that proposes to transform blighted lots into cost efficient models of sustainability.This proposal outlines a project that can be economically viable within the 24 month demonstration period and allows for rapid expansion. Implementation will allow us to meet increasing demand for local produce, provide education and employment, and lay an economic framework for social and environmental responsibility. Recognition by the Land Lab will foster public involvement as we refine emerging methods to find the most efficient process for decentralized farming in North St. Louis City. Our team consists of an engineer, a biologist, a renewable energy educator, a chef and IT Manager and a real estate developer whose synergistic vision will gain momentum and increase collaborative opportunities.


Site Selection: Lot 3, 2613 N. 14th Street

Concept & Team Summary:

Old North St. Louis is a neighborhood rich in potential, but limited in access to resources. To increase accessibility for neighborhood residents, connect Old North to the larger St. Louis area, and build on the growing bike culture in the City, we propose the establishment of shiftUP at 2613 N. 14th St. (Lot 3). shiftUP would be a community space to rent, maintain, and learn about bicycles.

As a bike hub, shiftUP would encourage bikers from other parts of St. Louis to visit Old North and interact with the community. Direct benefits to Old North residents include free rentals, increased access to resources, improvements in health, and community education. Bike rentals to visitors would generate income for financial sustainability. shiftUP has the potential to pioneer a community-based bike share model that could be replicated in communities both within the city of St. Louis and nationwide. shiftUP is what St. Louis needs now to grow as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and connected community. shiftUP is designed by a committed team with unique perspectives and skills in community development and design: Laura Halfmann, MSW; naomi warren, JD/MSW; Ross Welch, M. Arch; and Kate Wilson, PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Washington University.

Sustainable Nectaring Garden

Site Selection: Lot 5, 1300-06 Montgomery Street

Concept & Team Summary:

We propose to convert the vacant lot addressed as 1300-06 Montgomery Street into a nectaring garden composed of native perennial plants that carry out extended seasonal flowering to provide local bees, butterflies and hummingbirds with the food plants that they require.

The Sunflower+ Project

Site Selection: Lot 4, 1318-24 Warren Street

Concept & Team Summary:

The Sunflower+ Project: StL 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. An experiment in the realms of phytoremediation, public art, public health, education and sustainability, the project will beautify the neighborhood and enhance the usability of the land in a low impact, low cost, and entrepreneurial manner. Using Lot #4, we propose planting a field of sunflowers with a repurposed rubble wall intervention marking the historic foundation line that would serve as a didactic tool for learning about history and sustainability. In addition to brightening the neighborhood, the sunflowers will serve the practical task of phytoremediation of the soil, while offering the potential for development of food or fuel products that could provide a source of local income. Alternative plantings will also be used to promote the remediation process year round. The Sunflower+ Project: StL is led by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in urban redevelopment, sustainability, horticulture, soils analysis, environmental air quality analysis, masonry, graphic design and communications, civil engineering and organic farming.

Urban Remediators

Site Selection: Site 2, 2709 N. 14th Street

Concept & Team Summary:

We aim to demonstrate that vacant lots can be aesthetically landscaped to provide self-maintaining public gathering spaces that not only heal the soil, but also help improve the health of the community. We would like to test the ability of bioremediation and permaculture techniques to improve the health of the urban soil by implementing an interactive living landscape that doubles as a community gathering space, and that addresses the deficiencies and contaminants present; regular monitoring of soil composition would be used as a tool for dynamically tailoring natural elements.

The project would provide a living “store front”-like demonstration area along the 14th street mall and a more intimate setting (should the residents request it) towards the back of the lot near apartment entrances. Community members would contribute not just to the design process, but also to the personality of the site through decorative elements such as sculptures, murals, or drawings on man-made site components. Our team would be successful in this undertaking because it is strongly interdisciplinary and all members are actively working on and committed to St Louis community engagement projects.

Urban Beautification Warriors

Site Selection: Lot 3, 2613 N. 14th Street

Concept & Team Summary:

PROJECT PROPOSAL: We propose that this space be transformed into a giant walk-through kaleidoscope. The area can be used for many purposes; i.e.: event space, party rental, concerts, plays, wedding venue, etc. Our goal is to use as many re-purposed items as possible. We would like to get most of them from the Old North St. Louis area.

The wood planks we would use would be passed out to neighborhood stakeholders to decorate, paint, and carve, into something unique to add to the benches and stage. This would be a way to give the neighborhood pride in their new attraction and a way to participate in building a community gathering area.

This setting could be replicated in many themes. Bicycles; candy land; city museum-like sculpture pass through; cultural themes; murals that look like you are walking through another city (Venice, New Orleans, Hollywood, NYC)… all aiming at becoming an attraction to event planners as wedding venues and photography backdrops.

Links to the full proposals and a complete listing of all of the proposals received, organized by the vacant lot they selected, can be found at the Sustainable Land Lab Competition site or by clicking HERE.  Because the full submissions included a great deal more detail and images (including some with links to videos) than space would allow for us to re-post here, please follow the link above to learn more about these creative proposals.  We’d love to get some feedback from Old North residents and other stakeholders - so please share your comments here (by clicking on the LEAVE A COMMENT link at the left side of  the top of this post) or by sending us an email at the ONSLRG office:

Teams representing the fifteen proposals chosen to move on to Round 2 will be required to submit additional information by January 28, 2013 and will be expected to address (in further detail) the following criteria:

  • Creativity of concept, innovative solution;
  • Connectivity to the City’s sustainability plan and regional context;
  • Integration of diverse factors, including, but not limited to water, food, energy, waste, social justice, art, economy and community;
  • Response to unique site characteristics and local community context;
  • Team qualifications;
  • Replicable idea; and
  • Scalability of concept.


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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