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Archive for the ‘Old North Grocery Co-op’ Category

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

It’s Time for a Change

A Message from Sean Thomas, Executive Director
Old North St. Louis Restoration Group
Thank you!
I can’t think of any other way to start this message other than to say thank you to so many of you who have been a part of my work at Old North St. Louis Restoration Group over the past 12 years. Those years have been thrilling, nerve-wracking, awe-inspiring, a lot of fun, occasionally frustrating, and so much more - and sometimes all of that in the course of one day. However, this roller coaster ride has to end sometime. That end is now on the horizon, although the exact date of my last day as ONSLRG’s Executive Director is still to be determined. I want to finish up some commitments and be here to celebrate some of the big events on our calendar, such as the Old North House & Community Tour on Sat., May 7, so, I’ll be around for a little while.  Even after I’m off the payroll, I look forward to continuing my support for the work of ONSLRG in whatever way is helpful. At the very least, I can assure you that you’ll see me periodically at Crown Candy, La Mancha, North City Farmers’ Market or Old North’s First Friday Art Walks.
As I begin the process of winding down my duties, cleaning out my desk, and passing along my responsibilities, I want to pause to acknowledge some of the people who helped bring about so many of the incredible things that have taken place in Old North.
I have had the privilege and honor of having the best seat in the house to witness a genuine, community-driven transformation that has been called “one of the country’s best revitalization stories.”
The highlight reel of all that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of at ONSLRG could go on for hours, so I’ll have to settle for the following:
I.  A baker’s dozen of memorable moments, events, and developments (& the people behind them) from the past dozen years;
II. A brief summary of the reasons to be excited about Old North’s future; and
III. A few suggestions for how YOU can help support the ongoing revitalization of Old North.
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12 (+1 more for good measure) Highlights of Developments, Neighborhood Changes, & Groups of People that I Am Thankful to Have Been a Part of…
1. North Market Place Homes
The list has to start with the North Market Place new homes, for two reasons: (1) that development represented, at the time, the single biggest and most visible sign of new investment in Old North in many years, and consequently served as a catalyst for a lot of the other positive developments that followed; and (2)  because by the time I started with ONSLRG in 2003, the community had already been working on the plan for several years - and residents of the community were adamant that this new development would reflect and respect their values and vision for the community. Many pieces had to come together to make it happen, including finding the right partners with capacity, but it all started with a vision and a plan crafted by the community, facilitated by members of ONSLRG’s Board and staff, including John Burse, Will Winter, and Tom Tschetter.
That project was made possible by more people and organizations than can be listed here, but key players from outside Old North included staff who were at Regional Housing & Community Development Alliance at that time, notably David Dodson, Aaron Burnett, and Lloyd Simms, who spent a good chunk of the next several years working with us on North Market Place and two subsequent projects. All of those deals were complicated, but David, Aaron, and LLoyd were always respectful and collaborative in working with their community-based partners.
2.  North Market Apartments
The next game-changer in Old North was the North Market Apartments, which involved rescuing multiple historic buildings that were well on their way to complete collapse. The transformation of those 9 eyesores into 32 decent, attractive, and affordable rental apartments sent a powerful message to residents and visitors alike that something big was going on in Old North. That development also provided a good case study of how affordable and attractive rental housing not only can be compatible with market-rate, for sale housing, it can also boost the sales of new homes.
Because of the success with attracting investment and people to new houses and rehabbed apartments in the North Market area, and the track record of a good partnership between ONSLRG and RHCDA, combined with the talent and skill of general contractor, E.M. Harris Construction Co., the next big thing to follow was probably the largest and most complicated development deal any of us will ever be a part of…
3.  Redevelopment of the Former 14th Street Pedestrian Mall into Crown Square.
I can’t say enough about that project, but it will forever be a highlight of my career, not just because of the scale of the $35 million, 27-building development but because of the phenomenal team of people who were part of that endeavor, from our development partners, architects, contractors and sub-contractors, and the very patient neighbors and nearby businesses who thought the project would never end.
4.  Rescuing & Securing the Mullanphy Emigrant Home
Some of the same parties who helped make Crown Square possible, especially E.M. Harris and Rosemann Architects, also pitched in to support ONSLRG’s efforts to rescue the Mullanphy Emigrant Home from a demolition order issued by the City of St. Louis after a devastating storm blew out much of the south walls in 2006.
Until some passionate preservationist neighbors encouraged ONSLRG to lead the efforts to save the building, the end was almost certain for the architecturally, culturally, and historically significant Mullanphy Emigrant Home, which had been built in 1867 and anchored the southern end of Old North. The cause was even closer to being declared hopeless almost exactly a year later when another storm blew through the building and knocked out much of the north wall.
The Mullanphy building is still around today because of the generous and determined support from neighbors and hundreds of others from throughout St. Louis who rallied to support the cause with contributions of money, time, and other resources. That list also is too long for this space (but you can click on Mullanphy Emigrant Home in the Categories section in the right column to see the dozens of blog posts, which provide a lot more detail of the project and the people who made it possible).
5. Partnerships with University of Missouri- St. Louis & MU Extension
The importance of physical and visible transformations cannot be overstated in the process of changing the trajectory of a neighborhood, but sustainable revitalization requires so many other pieces to fall into place.
As with everything I’ve noted so far, there have been multiple key partners who worked closely with ONSLRG to advance a very ambitious, comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization strategy. On several different occasions, a few individuals at University of Missouri - St. Louis, and their colleagues at University of Missouri Extension, stepped up to play key roles.  Kay Gasen, Andrew Hurley, and John McClusky (and others) were already involved with ONSLRG as part of a 3-year community-university partnership when both Kay and John encouraged me to pursue the position of Executive Director.  So, for that alone, I extend my tremendous appreciation to both of them.
Those university connections produced so many important elements of how the story of Old North is told (from the history book, DVD, and brochure for the history trail) - and resources that helped shape the way ONSLRG has operated (including strategic planning assistance from John McClusky on 3 separate occasions). Andrew has captured the history of Old North in more than one book and has worked with us to develop tools for using that rich history to guide plans for new, in-fill construction.
6. Old North Grocery Co-op
Kay and her colleague, Kara Lubischer, from the Extension side of the university system, brought tremendous insights, research, resources, and connections to ONSLRG’s work to launch the Old North Grocery Co-op in 2010 - and practically worked out of the ONSLRG office for several months.
The whole experience of the community-driven planning process and the massive amount of work put in by residents and friends of Old North served as yet another demonstration of the do-it-yourself approach and community-entrepreneurial spirit of Old North. And, even though not everything will turn out in the ways we want, that shouldn’t hold us back from experimenting and trying new and ambitious approaches to seemingly intractable challenges, especially when no one else is doing anything about it.  The very fact that the Old North Grocery Co-op made it to a successful launch was nothing short of a miracle, with the right people, resources, funding, and a vision coming together at just the right time  – thanks to Missouri Foundation for Health and the Empowerment Zone, property owner Ken Kranzberg, university support from Kay and Kara, and so many residents and friends of the community.
7. North City Farmers’ Market
The co-op wouldn’t have happened at all had it had not been for our experience with the North City Farmers’ Market, which had its very modest start in 2007, with funding from Missouri Foundation for Health and an initial vision created by our friends at New Roots Urban Farm.
The primary focus of the market has been to bring fresh, healthy, and affordable foods to the heart of the neighborhood, but we have always seen the market as more than just a place to buy stuff. For 20 Saturdays in a row over the past 9 years, the market has been a great gathering place where residents and visitors of diverse backgrounds can come together to celebrate community, enjoy live music, children’s activities, exercise and fitness, cooking demonstrations, and much more. All of that requires a dedicated team of volunteers who come out week after week after week. Thank you to all who have given of their time and labor to make the market happen!
8.  Community Gardens
With the distance of a short block from the 13th Street Garden to the North City Farmers’ Market, we really have the “shortest distance from harvest to market” here in Old North.
The 13th Street Garden - and Old North’s 8 other community gardens, have been cultivated and maintained by a dedicated team of garden volunteers, with years of support from Gateway Greening, and free use offered by land owners, Ken Kranzberg (for 13th Street) and the City of St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (for most of the other gardens).
9.  Strong & Enduring Anchor Businesses
One of the most encouraging developments in recent years has been the arrival of new businesses and nonprofit service providers, but special acknowledgment needs to go to the businesses that have stuck it out during the tough times and are still going strong today, from Marx Hardware to Headhunters Barber Shop, and Crown Candy Kitchen (which provided caloric support for countless meetings with visitors, prospective homebuyers, development partners, funders, and friends over the years, not to mention many years of ice cream for our house tour attendees).
10. A Vibrant & Growing Arts-Supporting Community
Further evidence of the vibrancy and creativity of Old North can be seen in the windows of the neighborhood’s galleries, music at the corner plaza, exhibits and events, such as First Friday Art Walk, and special programs, such as last September’s Shakespeare in the Streets (thanks to Shakespeare Festival St. Louis).  So much of the art in Old North has benefited from support from Regional Arts Commission, including many years of grants to ONSLRG.
11.  Neighbors Working Together To Create a Safe & Supportive Environment
Many visitors remark about the “small town” feel of Old North, largely due to the warmth of the community and the way residents look out for each other.  Among the positive byproducts of that attitude has been a steady reduction in crime over the years (down 42% from 2010-2015). That type of progress doesn’t just happen automatically, especially when surrounding areas or citywide numbers have not experienced the same results. Residents and businesses all over Old North deserve credit for that, but among the leaders deserving acknowledgment are Vela Hermann and members of Old North’s Neighborhood Ownership Model team, including ONSLRG staff and current and past 4th district police representatives, such as Officers Lori Wozniak, Rich Schicker, Jamie Partee, and Capt. Kreismann (and several other captains before her), as well as the many neighbors who show up for community meetings, who call their neighbors when they they have reason for concern, and go out of their way to pick up litter.
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12.  A Wonderful Staff of Dedicated and Caring Individuals
The day-to-day work of running Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has been a team effort from the beginning, and virtually everything ONSLRG has worked on over the years involved full staff participation, regardless of job titles or official responsibilities.  I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of individuals, including:
- Jane Smith, office manager through 2013…
-and other former staff members Irvetta Williams, Karen Heet, and Claire Wolff;
- as well as the great team we have today: Community Development Specialist Matt Fernandez, VISTA Health Initiatives Coordinator Jessica Payne, VISTA Sustainable Development Coordinator Brendan Ziebarth, and AARP Senior Service Corps Receptionist Charlotte Harris.  I can’t thank these individuals enough for their constant above and beyond the call of duty efforts. A more detailed description of that will have to come later.
…and it shouldn’t go without noting that our staff benefited greatly from support provided by a very long list of interns and practicum students over the years. I wish I could name them all here, but that, too, will have to wait until later.
13. Caring, Thoughtful, and Committed Board Members
Finally, my greatest thanks go to the people who have entrusted me with this job. The group of people who set the course for the organization, ONSLRG’s Board of Directors, come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, but they share a common sense of purpose in making Old North the “Best Place to Live” that it is today.
Special thanks to the two Board members who were around in 2003 and have offered reliable support and encouraging words ever since, Gloria Bratkowski and Dave Eisenbraun.
Three other Board members who, sadly, are no longer with us  - Johnnie Owens, Rev. Richard Taylor, and Tom Tschetter -  brought different talents and perspectives to the Board but always provided inspiration to keep moving forward, regardless of any hurdle.
Over those years, the Board has enjoyed leadership and direction from 3 different Board Presidents, each bringing his own style and set of priorities. Thank you to John Burse, Tino Ochoa, and Doug Rasmussen for your support of me, personally, and for keeping the organization grounded in the community while regularly pushing to achieve ambitious goals.
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So, what’s next for Old North?
Rest assured that my departure does not reflect any diminished confidence in the future of Old North or the viability of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. In fact, I have more excitement than ever about Old North’s future. Reasons for hope for Old North’s continued revitalization are too many to list here, but the following are just some of the items on that list:
  • Construction will be starting very soon on the 1300 block of Monroe for new, for-sale energy-efficient houses, which will mark the return of new construction within the North Market Place development area after several years off…
By the way, if you’d like to get one of these new homes before they’re all snapped up, contact Matt Fernandez at 314-241-5031, ext. 101 or at Matt@ONSL.org.
  • a lot of new energy, activity & ideas coming from new neighbors & organizations, such as UrbArts…
  • We are currently in the midst of promising conversations about a redevelopment of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home building (more to come on that later)…
  • Our STL North LLC partner, Ken Kranzberg, is working with us on plans for redevelopment of the one-time pasta factory building at 1225 St. Louis Avenue into affordable artist loft apartments…
  • the soon-to-be-released Sustainable Development Plan for Old North, produced through support from EPA, will provide a good outline for positive, sustainable and community-enriching development…
  • …And, most importantly, Old North continues to attract, retain and engage a strong, resilient, determined, passionate, and growing community of residents and stakeholders who are going to keep working hard to make Old North the vibrant, dynamic, friendly, welcoming, safe, and sustainable neighborhood they know it can be.
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The work of ONSLRG will continue - BUT your help is needed!
No matter how much progress has been achieved, Old North still has plenty of work to do, and the community needs a neighborhood-based organization to facilitate the process and continue pulling residents, key stakeholders, and supporters together. What makes a community sustainable isn’t the building stock - it’s the people.  Real estate development is a key piece of any revitalization strategy for a neighborhood that experienced generations of de-population and disinvestment, but genuine community development needs much more than that.  And that’s why Old North St. Louis Restoration Group remains committed to pursuing a comprehensive approach. Unfortunately, many aspects of that comprehensive approach don’t generate any - or enough -  revenue to cover their costs. So, we rely on the generosity and support of any and all who believe this work is worthwhile.
If you believe the community-driven approach of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is worth continuing, I encourage you to help ONSLRG sustain and build upon the great achievements that are evident today.
Please show your support for the mission of revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of Old North in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural and urban character by making a contribution right now. Just click on the button below to make a secure, online donation.
Other ways of providing financial support include buying as many tickets as you can for the annual Old North House & Community Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 7 by clicking HERE, and/or becoming a house tour sponsor (or referring a business you know) by clicking HERE.  Or, you could always buy a new house when they’re ready or one of ONSLRG’s rehab-ready houses. (Click HERE for info on the rehab-ready houses.)  If you have any other ideas, give us a call at 314-241-5031 or send an email to info@ONSL.org.
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Thank you again to all who have been with me on this phenomenal adventure over the past 12 years!
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Thank You to All Who Helped Old North Achieve Distinction as the “Best Place to Live” in St. Louis

Happy Thanksgiving to all! In honor of this season of gratitude, all of us at Old North St. Louis Restoration Group (ONSLRG) thank everyone who has been a part of making Old North St. Louis the “Best Place to Live” in St. Louis.

And thank you again to the Riverfront Times for putting the spotlight on the great things going on in Old North and for selecting Old North as the 2015 “Best Place to Live” neighborhood in the annual “Best of St. Louis” issue. While the RFT’s few lines of explanation (as shown in the clip above from the print copy) provided a good start, we know there is so much more to the Old North story.  So, for those who have asked what it takes to become a “Best Place to Live” neighborhood, we offer the following, more detailed, mostly objective, rest-of-the-story case for why Old North really is such a great place to live.

Old North is a neighborhood with character and soul - a place with a long & fascinating history… a place with visible progress achieved through a revitalization process guided by an organization that is genuinely of, by, and for the people of the community.
And for any who might question the RFT’s wisdom with this year’s selection - and with all due respect to the many other wonderful neighborhoods throughout the city, it’s worth noting that the RFT hasn’t been the only source to  consider the revitalization of Old North to be worthy of recognition. That list of outside parties who’ve had upbeat assessments of Old North in recent years includes:
  • Focus St. Louis, who picked Old North for one of their “What’s Right with the Region” Awards; and
  • Kaid Benfield, then-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Smart Growth & Sustainable Communities Program, who referred to Old North as “one of the country’s best revitalization stories…”
So, what’s going on in Old North that captured the attention and earned the respect of these outside observers?  The short answer is that it isn’t just one thing. Old North has been reviving and transforming itself through a comprehensive set of initiatives over several years.
A successful and vibrant community will be a place with a mix of positive features and attributes, not simply a place with good housing stock or nice parks, for instance. The more diverse and the stronger the mix of distinctive characteristics, the more likely it is that the community will enjoy a positive trajectory and be able to sustain itself over time. The most important element, however, is a population of community members who establish the vision for what they want their community to be - and are actively involved in the implementation of the various initiatives, as well as the ongoing work of maintaining and building on the progress.
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The PEOPLE
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It’s a given that just about every neighborhood will claim that it’s the people who live & work there that make it such a wonderful place. In the absence of specifics, though, that claim can sound rather superficial. With that in mind, let’s consider the “tight-knit bunch” of people who are part of the warm and welcoming community in Old North.
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Long-time Neighbors =====
Above Left: Tom Bratkowski with a picnic table & bench he built for the 13th Street Community Garden; Above Right: Gloria Bratkowski with Old North’s Girl Scout Troop. The Bratkowski Family has been in Old North for 4 generations - and they continue to serve in a variety of ways.
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As a community with a long and rich history, one of the compelling features of Old North is that history isn’t confined to the history books. Old North is home to people who’ve been a part of the community long enough to be able tell the back-stories of various aspects of the neighborhood’s ups and downs over several generations. Along with residents who moved into the neighborhood 20, 30, or 40 years ago, Old North is also home to residents whose families have been in the neighborhood for several generations before them.  And Old North is such a vibrant place because long-term residents are still actively involved in a lot of community-building efforts, from working in community gardens to serving on committees or on the ONSLRG Board.
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…And a Lot of Newcomers, Too!
Old North has a growing population, with new residents welcomed to the community & invited to participate in the ongoing work of community-building =======
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Newcomers tell us that there are many reasons they choose to move into Old North, but almost everybody reports that they love the powerful and genuine sense of community. Longtime residents welcome in their new neighbors and readily invite them to attend community events and/or to participate in the shared responsibility of community-building. Damon Moore and his wife, Kausta, (in the left photo above) had just moved into the neighborhood when the Riverfront Times stumbled across him doing work in his new front yard. Asked why he and his wife moved into the neighborhood, Damon responded: “They’re constantly building this neighborhood up, and we want to be a part of it.” And Kausta has since followed up by joining the ONSLRG Real Estate Committee.
Meanwhile the Lunsford family (in the right photo above) started showing up for community events in Old North long before they moved into the neighborhood from south city to tackle a rehab. The whole family has been regulars at Old North’s farmers’ market and can be counted on to bring a burst of positive energy to any neighborhood activity.  Life in Old North as become such a central part of the Lunsford family’s everyday activities that “Old North” emerged as the most prominent set of words used in Leah’s Facebook posts (as shown below)…
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It’s also important to note that population growth didn’t just happen by itself.  Significant effort went into planning for and developing new housing, including finding and partnering with outside parties, such as Rise Community Development, who had resources and capacity to make larger projects happen. The process also involved considerable time and effort on the part of ONSLRG staff to recruit and assist individuals and families who were open to the possibility of moving into Old North. These ongoing efforts involve everything from hosting the annual Old North House & Community Tour every spring to preparing and distributing an Available Properties List every month and responding to inquiries from visitors who drop in at the ONSLRG office wanting to know more about the neighborhood.
And, as shown in the image above, the development of new housing options continues. Starting at approximately $150,000, new, energy-efficient homes will be available in early 2016.  (Interested buyers should contact Matt Fernandez at 314-241-5031, ext. 101 or by email at Matt@ONSL.org.)
Because a growing population by itself isn’t enough to make a community vibrant and sustainable, ONSLRG regularly hosts events and activities to allow neighbors to get to know each other.  Since strong and supportive relationships don’t happen automatically or through one time events, it takes a variety of occasions throughout the year, such as ONSLRG’s Annual Meeting and Pot-Luck Supper in February, a trivia night in March, the House & Community Tour in May, 20 weeks in a row of the North City Farmers’ Market in the middle of 14th Street from June through October, a big National Night Out celebration in the 13th Street Community Garden (as shown below)…
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…periodic happy hours, monthly neighborhood meetings, and the Holidays in Old North Festival, in addition to several other special events, such as hosting this year’s Shakespeare in the Streets on at the intersection of Montgomery and N. 14th Street.
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BUSINESSES & INSTITUTIONS
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Landmark, Legendary Businesses
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Crown Candy*
No story of Old North would be complete without acknowledging the importance of Crown Candy Kitchen as a neighborhood landmark that has drawn customers and visitors to the neighborhood for more than 100 years now.  For many St. Louisans, Crown Candy was their first introduction to Old North - and for many years, the only reason they would have ever set foot in the neighborhood.  Now, Crown’s customers have a lot more to take in and can walk down the street to marvel at the beauty of Crown Square and the view of the Arch and the Downtown skyline framed by the collection of architecturally significant, historically rehabbed buildings along both sides of N. 14th Street.
But there’s more to the Old North business community than Crown Candy, including other legendary businesses, such as another family-owned, much-older business, Marx Hardware (which also made this year’s RFT “Best of” list), and HeadHunters, a barber shop that stuck around the 14th Street Mall for many, many years after all of the other businesses abandoned the dead pedestrian mall and survived long enough to enjoy the revitalization at Crown Square.
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Newer, Locally-Owned Businesses
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The past few years have brought several new businesses to the heart of Old North, especially at Crown Square, such as:
- Blackmun Footcare, owned and operated by Old North resident, Dr. Annessa Blackmun (shown above)* - which also was selected by St. Louis Development Corporation as the 5th Ward Business of the Year this year;
- Kennedy’s Pet Shop;
- La Mancha Coffeehouse* (a previous SLDC Business of the Year honoree);
- Firecracker Press;
- The Racq Salon;
- Angel’s Touch Home Healthcare;
- The Gallery Clothing Boutique;
- Le Fit;
and others beyond the Crown Square portion of 14th Street, such as Better Life and Perpetua;
… and so many more.
* owned & run by Old North residents
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Recent Arrival Nonprofits & Service Providers…
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Old North residents are lucky to have many other organizations present within and serving the Old North community, including:
- UrbArts, a home for spoken word arts and poetry slams (with founder / executive director, MK Stallings in the photo above);
- Central Print;
- Building Futures;
- Zuka Arts Guild;
- Magdalene House;
- Peace Weaving Wholeness.
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LONG-TIME ORGANIZATIONS & INSTITUTIONS
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Old North is also home to several other groups that have been around for quite a while, such as:
- Grace Hill Settlement House (for over a Century);
- The Haven of Grace;
- C.J.’s Place (Places for People);
- Stepping Into the Light;
- Sunshine Ministries;
… and, of course, Old North’s own vehicle for neighborhood-driven and respectful community development, ONSLRG, which will be celebrating 35 years in 2016.
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A ROBUST ARTS SCENE
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The highest profile arts event in the past year was Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’s production of their annual Shakespeare in the Streets in Old North, which featured area residents John Bratkowski, Aniyah Wilson, and Robert Green, along with Old North’s very own police officer, Richard Schicker of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s 4th District.
But there is so much more art happening within the boundaries of Old North.
Recent hightlights have included a new mural by William Burton and Robert Ketchins; several exhibits in the Old North Gallery; live music within the ONSLRG Gallery, on the stage at the Crown Square corner plaza, in the street…
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…poetry slams at UrbArts, printmaking at Central Print, children’s programs at NorthSide Workshop, Friday afternoon concerts at Zuka Arts, improv, drum lessons for the neighborhood Girl Scout troop, daily steel drum music by Jamaica Ray in front of Crown Candy, and on and on.
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RECREATION & LEISURE
….residents walking together, outside groups bringing bike tours through Old North, soccer games in Jackson Park…
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HISTORIC CHARACTER & ARCHITECTURAL PRESERVATION
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As a community that dates back to its founding in 1816 as an independent municipality (the Village of North St. Louis) separate from St. Louis, Old North is home to a great mix of structures and historic sites that contribute to the neighborhood’s distinct sense of place.  Residents of Old North embrace that history and character and go to great lengths to preserve what the physical elements that shape the character and beauty of the neighborhood.  Part of that history is currently on display at the Missouri History Museum, with their A Walk in 1875 exhibit (shown above), and much more of that can on a walk through Old North today. Thanks to the efforts of ONSLRG and our partners, and many individual homeowners, dozens of historic buildings have been rescued from the brink of collapse.  We thank all who have helped make this aspect of Old North’s character possible - and we thank Landmarks Association of St. Louis for helping to acknowledge the great contributions of so many in Old North through their annual “Most Enhanced” Historic Preservation Awards, with more awards going to more buildings in Old North than any other neighborhood - as a percentage of total buildings within the neighborhood…
Above: Owners of Old North properties that have been (or will one day be) recognized by Landmarks Association of St. Louis for the quality of their historic preservation.  From left to right: Matt Fernandez future award winner; Dave Eisenbraun, past winner; James & Luz Maria Cox, 2015 & previous year winners; and Susan Tschetter, past winner.
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HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
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Old North is a place that embraces healthy lifestyles in a variety of ways, most visibly through the weekly appearance of North City Farmers’ Market along the 2700 block of N. 14th Street from June through mid- October over the past 9 years.
The community-wide celebration of healthy lifestyles is also evident through the neighborhood’s 9 community gardens…
… and the community’s Walking Club.
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Residents out and about and watching out for each other has also made it possible for Old North to experience a 47% decline in crime from 2010 - 2014, further reinforced by coordinated efforts, including Old North’s Neighborhood Ownership Model and regular collaboration with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s 4th District (especially Officers Lori Wozniak and Richard Schicker)…
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PARTNERSHIPS
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So much of what has been mentioned above can be attributed to a simple formula of community-driven initiatives matched with support from outside partners.  While the full list of partners and supporters would be too long for this space, some of them do need to be acknowledged here, such as several who’ve provided funding support for some of our programs recently: the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration, Bank of America, Regional Arts Commission, Trio Foundation; some who’ve provided funding and program support, such as Gateway Greening, Ken Kranzberg and STL North LLC; some who’ve worked with us on various aspects of our mission, including our Crown Square development partner, Rise Community Development, Community Builders Network (which is assisting with ONSLRG’s collaborations with other nearby CDCs, Community Renewal and Development and Northside Community Housing)… and partners who’ve made it possible for our staff to take on so much more work than we could otherwise afford to do by providing us with more people power in the office - Mission St. Louis and AmeriCorps VISTA for making it possible for Jessica Payne and Brendan Ziebarth to work with us, and AARP for making it possible for Charlotte Harris to keep an eye on our front desk;
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and several hundred residents and outside friends of the community.

This litany of supporters, investors, and friends could continue for quite a while. So, we invite you to add the names of others who deserve thanks and acknowledgments.  Just scroll down to find the Comment box below and share your thoughts!

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In light of all of the above, we THANK all who made this possible. If you’re thankful that St. Louis has a dynamic and growing community capable of showing that our city does, indeed, have vibrant, attractive and sustainable neighborhoods, we invite you to help us continue this work.  If you believe it’s important for the city to have healthy and thriving neighborhoods on the north side, as well as on the south side, if you believe it’s vital to our region’s future to have neighborhoods that seek to engage all of their residents in the work of community building and that continue to reach out to various agencies and organizations to join the residents in making the community a better place for all, then we need your support.  Please make a new or continuing contribution today by clicking on the image below.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

3 Quick Things: (1) North City Farmers’ Market Opens Saturday; (2) ONSLRG Starts 35th Year Friday; & (3) Our Newspaper is Out

Watch for a more detailed post later, but for now, please take note of the following:

Saturday, June 6 is opening day of our 2015 North City Farmers’ Market season!  Please come on out to celebrate our 9th season at any time from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., along the 2700 block of N. 14th Street, just south of St. Louis Avenue and across the street from Crown Candy Kitchen. The market will once again feature fresh, healthy, and locally-grown vegetables and fruit, other food items (including honey), crafts, children’s activities, music (with legendary DJ Ital-K on the bill for Saturday), exercise classes, nutrition education, and so much more! For more info, check out the Facebook event page by clicking HERE.

And, while you’re at the market, stop by our information table to learn more about how you can help Old North St. Louis Restoration Group celebrate 34 years of existence - and help us kick off the first day of ONSLRG’s 35th year!

On June 5, 1981, the Missouri Secretary of State’s office approved the incorporation of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Inc., as a not-for-profit corporation. Thirty-four years later, ONSLRG is alive, well, and still working tirelessly in pursuit of a rather ambitious mission: to revitalize the physical and social dimensions of the Old North neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character. With an impressive, award-winning track record of visible and measurable outcomes achieved over the past 34 years, ONSLRG has big things planned for year 35 and beyond. If you’d like to help us celebrate the many years of progress with ONSLRG’s neighborhood-driven and comprehensive redevelopment strategy - and help ONSLRG continue this work into the coming year, you may consider a $35 contribution ($1 for each of the past 34 years and $1 more for the start of another year), or a $35/month recurring contribution, or even a $3,500 donation or any other amount.  Whatever works for your budget, secure, tax-deductible contributions can be made online by clicking HERE.

If dropping off a check in-person is more your style, feel free to come by the ONSLRG office on Friday the 5th (or any day after that), or you can stop by our information table at the North City Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

More details on this topic to come, as well.

Meanwhile, watch for the latest issue of the Old North Community News to show up on your doorstep very soon. If you can’t wait that long, we’d be happy to have you come on by the ONSLRG office and pick up a pile to deliver to your block.

Thank you to all who help with making Old North the dynamic, friendly, welcoming, vibrant, and sustainable neighborhood that it has become over the past 34 years!

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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.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

North City Farmers’ Market Music Series Profiled on STL Public Radio; Come See (& Hear) For Yourself!

Today’s Cityscape program on St. Louis Public Radio featured a story by reporter Erin Williams about this year’s music series at North City Farmers’ Market.

To listen to the story online, or just to see the pictures they’ve posted, click the link HERE to be taken to the St. Louis Public Radio page on their report about the music series at North City Farmers’ Market.

In the meantime, come on out Saturday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors of the market.  Perhaps you’ll even get a chance to jump rope with a carrot.

L.B. Johnson was the featured musician of the week on June 8.

L.B. Johnson was the featured musician of the week on June 8.

The entertainment at this week’s market will come in the form of music by Coco Rico and dancers from Lindy Hop St. Louis.

And be sure to pick up some ingredients that would allow you to prepare the latest recipe presented by our intern, Jazmin Richardson on the North City Farmers’ Market blog.  This week’s edition of “What’s Cookin’ with Jazmin” features plums and can be found by clicking HERE.  If you’d like to discuss this further with Jazmin, look for her at the market on Saturday - or on many Thursday evenings over at the Whitaker Urban Evening concert series, presented by Grace Hill in St. Louis Place Park.  Jazmin and Shenika often wander the crowd to promote the market and Old North Grocery Co-op (as shown in the photo below from the June 20th concert).

This week’s market will also play host to the Truck Farm, which is described as a mobile community farm and a public art and education project, sponsored by slow food St. Louis.

Yet another good reason to come out Saturday: support the initiative and social activism of one of Old North’s favorite 10 year olds.  Nolan will have a lemonade stand to raise funds for the Whaleman Foundation, an agency focused on ocean conservation. So, stop on by for a good cause and to thank Nolan for doing his part to save the whales.

We’ll llook forward to seeing you all at the market!

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

But wait there’s more… Here’s What’s Happening In Old North Today

== North City Farmers’ Market ==

…with musical entertainment this week by Spirits of the New Northside Drum Corps.

Some of our friends, including Laura Winter and Becky Weidhaas, captured a bit of the sights and sounds on video and shared on Facebook (…but apparently those embedded links don’t show up on this site, so if you’re friends of theirs on Facebook, just scroll through their timelines to find the cool videos).

And, we had yoga on one of the lots adjacent to the market.

== And even more Yoga over at Mighty Mississippians’ Sustainable Land Lab Site ==

The Sustainable Land Lab site at 1300-06 Montgomery is being developed by the Mighty Mississippians project.  Among their activities they’ve planned or recruited for the site: periodic yoga sessions.

The photo above courtesy of the Facebook page of Outdoor Yoga (in and around) St. Louis, as shared by the Mighty Mississippians on their Facebook page.

Meanwhile, work continues at two of the other Sustainable Land Lab projects, including RRFarm’s project at 1303 Montgomery, as seen below…

and at 1318-24 Warren, where the Sunflower+ Project has some actual sunflowers blooming (as seen in the really cool photo they’ve posted to their Facebook page, shown below):

== Grand Opening of Kennedy’s Pet Shop at Crown Square ==

With a party continuing until 5 p.m., Seth Turner and his staff and friends are celebrating the grand opening of Kennedy’s Pet Shop at 2601 N. 14th Street.

===================

Later today, although outside of Old North, be sure to stop by the grand opening celebration for the St. Louis Art Museum’s expansion to enjoy the musical talents of Old North’s own Jamaica Ray, who will be performing at 5 p.m.

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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

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Friday, May 17, 2013

One Last Invite to Join Us TOMORROW (Sat., May 18) for Old North House & Community Tour… AND Announcing Another Crown Square Commercial Tenant

We’re down to the last few hours before the big day, so we’ll issue one last invitation to all friends of Old North, former residents, current residents, fans of urban revitalization, advocates for sustainable development, historic preservationists, arts enthusiasts, and anyone who just happens to like Crown Candy Kitchen: please join us on Saturday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for our annual Old North House & Community Tour. The forecast shows beautiful weather for tomorrow.  Come on out to enjoy a pleasant stroll though the walkable, architecturally rich, historic neighborhood of Old North St. Louis.

The hour by hour forecast from the experts at Weather.com.

It'll be a gorgeous day in Old North on Saturday, according to the hour by hour forecast from the experts at Weather.com.

For those who are new to St. Louis or just aren’t familiar with how neighborhood house tours work, here’s what you can expect from the Old North House & Community Tour:

The Old North House & Community Tour is a self-guided tour, so you’ll be able to use our tour booklet to decide which stops to visit and in what order - or you can visit all of the sites on the tour in the order presented in the booklet.  And, you’ll be able to go at your own pace, whether that means enjoying the nice, summery weather as you walk leisurely between stops or as you catch a free ride from one of the roving, environmentally- friendly bicycle rickshaws from St. Louis 3Wheel Taxi.

For more on what will be featured on the tour, take a look at our posts from Thursday (click HERE) and Tuesday (click HERE).

Registration for the tour - where you can buy tickets, trade in your already-bought tickets for the tour booklet or pick up tickets you purchased online - will be at the new and improved Crown Square corner plaza at the southwest corner of St. Louis Avenue and N. 14th Street, pictured below.

The first official performances on the plaza’s stage will take place immediately following a brief dedication ceremony at 10:30 a.m.   Scheduled to perform are local musician, poet, and spoken-word artist, Chris Ware, and later by Old North’s own favorite steel drum musician, Jamaica Ray.

We also want to share the reminder that the public is invited to celebrate the official start of work at the 5 Sustainable Land Lab projects in Old North, with a ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. at 1318 Warren (just east of 14th Street at the south end of Crown Square).  Mayor Slay will be on hand to congratulate the winners of the competition, and representatives from all 5 of the projects will be present to show off their sites and discuss their projects.

Although the “day-of” ticket prices of $12 should go into effect after midnight, the advance ticket price of $10 can still be obtained by purchasing online up until about 6 a.m.  So act now!

And, now for some other big news we’re thrilled to share…

=========<<<<<<<<<<<<<<=========>>>>>>>>>>===========

FIRECRACKER PRESS ANNOUNCES PLANS TO SET UP SHOP AT CROWN SQUARE

Earlier today, Firecracker Press issued the following press release:

The Firecracker Press is excited to announce, in addition to its location at 2838 Cherokee Street, the expansion of a second location at 2612 North 14th Street, in Crown Square. The expansion will take place over the Summer of 2013 with a Grand Opening to be announced later this year.

Founded in St. Louis in 2002, The Firecracker Press has become a cultural institution for printmaking. With a gang of antique printing presses (some dating back to the 1800s), a rich collection of St. Louis printing history, and a talented group of designers and printers, The Firecracker Press has made its mark regionally and nationally. Handmade, letterpress posters for music and art shows, custom business cards, stationery, wedding invitations, and books are just a few of the things that The Firecracker Press crafts. Using printing presses that are found and restored, The Firecracker Press prints from hand-set wood/lead type and uses hand-carved woodblocks to create imagery that’s rooted in history yet freshly modern. Its Southside, Cherokee Street location will remain while The Firecracker Press plans to expand a rotating list of events, classes and demonstrations at the new Crown Square location.

The Firecracker Press location in Old North will be in the former Sobel Department Store building at 2612-24 N. 14th Street.

Their announcement further describes their plans for the space in the heart of Old North, just across Montgomery from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s office:

The new space, nearly 8000 sq. ft., will host a large collection of printing presses and tools, a retail storefront with a variety of posters and design-related home-goods, and a 100 person capacity venue for music, readings, and events. The Firecracker Press will continue to offer the same high quality, unique, independently minded services that have made them well-known. The expansion will also bring the opportunity to collaborate with other organizations including Old North Restoration Group and its affiliates, and with Studio STL, which will be sharing a portion of the space for its non-profit, children’s writing programs. The publishing arm of The Firecracker Press dovetails in exciting ways with the mission of Studio STL. An arts center for writers, thinkers, and makers will grow where The Firecracker Press and Studio STL overlap, with more to come.

For more details about The Firecracker Press and their plans for the space at Crown Square, click HERE to read the full news release.

The leasing of 2612-24 N. 14th Street follows the recent leasing of 2606-08 N. 14th to Blackmun Footcare, which opened just last month, and the leasing of 2601 N. 14th to Kennedy’s Pet Shop, which is now in the midst of interior build-out.  Both Blackmun Footcare and Kennedy’s Pet Shop will be open for tours on Saturday.

With just a few spaces left, anyone interested in leasing commercial space at Crown Square should contact leasing agent Susan Sauer of Duffe-Nuernberger Realty by phone at 314-571-7654 or by email at ssauer@ndconsulting.com.

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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: claire@onsl.org]

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old North House & Community Tour Countdown: 4 Days Away

With just 4 days to go until the Old North House & Community Tour on Saturday, May 18, now is the time to take advantage of the advance ticket price of $10.  Purchase your tickets online by clicking HERE or give the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office a call at 314-241-5031.

In addition to the architecturally significant, historic buildings on the tour (a sampling of which can be seen in the collage above), this year’s event will show off the five Sustainable Land Lab projects being implemented on 4 empty lots within the Crown Square area.  Preceding the official start of the Old North House & Community Tour (which starts at 10 a,m.), Mayor Francis Slay and leaders behind the Sustainable Land Lab will mark the formal groundbreakings for the Land Lab projects with a ceremony at 9 a.m., starting with the Sunflower + project at 1316-24 Warren.  For more information on the Land Lab project and plans for this weekend, click HERE.  All 5 projects will have representatives at their sites to present their plans and answer questions starting at 10 a.m.

Bistro Box Sustainable Land Lab Project

RR Farm Sustainable Land Lab Project

Mighty Mississippians Sustainable Land Lab Project

Sunflower+ Sustainable Land Lab Project

Chess Pocket Park Sustainable Land Lab Project

Chess Pocket Park Sustainable Land Lab Project

Two of the stops on the tour will feature new businesses at Crown Square: Blackmun Footcare, at 2606 N. 14th Street, and Kennedy’s Pet shop across the street at 2601 N. 14th Street.  Dr. Annessa Blackmun celebrated the grand opening of her business several weeks ago, and Saturday will be the first chance for the community and other visitors to see the space where Seth Turner of Kennedy’s Pet Shop will be offering pet lovers with a variety of services, from dog-walking to pet treats and pet food delivery.

Other businesses that will be stops along the tour include La Mancha Coffeehouse, which will be offering a free cup of coffee to all tour-goers and will be showing off their soon-to-open expanded space at 2800 N. 14th; City Bar & Grill at North Market & Blair, which will be offering free toasted ravioli; and Old North Grocery Co-op at St. Louis Avenue & N. 13th Street.  As the aerial image of Crown Square below shows, the heart of Old North is buzzing with activity these days, especially with the opening of new businesses at Crown Square and the start-up of activities at the Land Lab lots.

The big day will also include the opening of a new exhibition in the Old North Gallery.

PPRC PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT: REVITALIZING

THE PPRC PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT IS A PROGRAM OF THE PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH CENTER AT UMSL.

The goal of the PPRC Photography Project is to raise the visibility of community groups working to improve the quality of life in St. Louis.  We focus on groups working in four areas: social services, youth/older adult enrichment, historic preservations and community revitalization.  This exhibition includes photographs from five Photography Projects completed by community groups working on revitalization and/or historic preservation.

• Old North St. Louis Restoration Group—our 1st Photography Project!

• Lewis Place Historic Preservation, Inc.

• Granite City Downtown Revitalization

• JVL: A multi-generational group of JeffVanderLou residents

• Downtown Dutchtown Business Association

• Cherokee/Benton Park West Small Business Incubator

Each group polled its members to come up with volunteers to complete Photography Project training. (Training entails 9-13 sessions on digital photography, photo collage and autobiographical writing taught by a professional artist/photographer.)  At the end of training we mount two exhibitions of the photographs taken by community group members (one at UMSL and one in the community near the group’s location).  We also produce a professional quality brochure and opening announcement.  The Project Instructors for the groups in this exhibition were: Lois Ingrum, Ron Laboray, Chinyere Oteh and Lyndsey Scott.  I conducted the Old North St. Louis Project training.

Many thanks to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group for giving us the opportunity to show these works from the Photography Project Collection!  (Check out all 900+ works in the Collection at pprc.umsl.edu.

–Mel Watkin, Director

The registration area for the tour once again will take place at the corner of N. 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue, which means this will be the first official event to take place at our new and improved plaza area for Crown Square.  While you’re there to pick up your tour booklet and information from our sponsors, take a few moments to enjoy music on the new stage and have a seat at one of the new umbrella-shaded tables.

And don’t forget that this year’s tour will also celebrate Crown Candy Kitchen’s century of service to Old North!

And what better way to commemorate Crown Candy’s 100th anniversary than with a taste of their legendary ice cream?  All tour-goers will receive a coupon for a free cup of ice cream, courtesy of Crown Candy but redeemable at the Old North Gallery on the day of the tour.

So, while we’ve got you thinking of historic architecture, community revitalization, sustainability, art, and ice cream, now is the time to get your tickets for the big day!

Also, if you’ve got some time this Saturday, it’s not too late to sign up to volunteer to help with a variety of tasks.  All volunteers receive free passes for the tour and can attend the after-tour party.  Contact Claire Wolff at the ONSLRG office (by email: claire@onsl.org or by phone: 314-241-5031) to sign up to volunteer.

Thank you again to all of our sponsors who have made this year’s tour possible, especially PNC Bank for being our lead sponsor.

WHAT'S NEW IN OLD NORTH

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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