Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Fox Park Neighborhood

Fox Park is a south St. Louis neighborhood bound by I-44 to the north, Gravois to the south, Nebraska to the west and Jefferson to the east:
Fox Park had a rough decade from 1990 to 2000 losing 13% of its residents.  As of 2000, 3,165 residents were counted, 64% black, 31% white, 6% Hispanic/Latino and 1% Asian.  1,549 housing units were counted, 71% occupied, 37%/63% owner/renter.  Another 17% decline was observed in the 2000-2010 timespan with slight racial shifts:  61% black, 32% white, 5% Hispanic and 1% Asian.

That's not to say the future doesn't look bright....very bright.  In fact, I would say that Fox Park is the heart of the up and coming south side neighborhoods with the most potential.  With McKinley Heights to the east, Fox Park in the middle, Compton Heights and Tower Grove East to the west and Benton Park West to the south, this stretch of the city has enormous upside potential in the coming decade.  Recent years have already seen a lot of investment and organization; I firmly believe this will continue.  I will show my hand and say this is one of the neighborhoods we are pining to move to.  There is a community garden established within the hood, you are 1 mile from Lafayette Park, 1.5 miles from the Soulard Farmers Market, 3.75 miles from the Riverfront Trail, the location is dynamite.

There is an impressive master plan in place for the park that gives the neighborhood its name.  Here are a couple sites at the park:


The  picture above is the entrance to the home plate side of a baseball field constructed by Cardinals Care in memory of pitcher Daryl Kile (remember his amazing curve ball?).  Even with this field, the park is still underwhelming and underused.  The master plan could put the neighborhood on the map by providing the centerpiece that many city parks bring to their respective neighborhoods.

As I've mentioned before, Russell is one of my favorite east-west streets in the city.  Here are some Fox Park sites along the classic St. Louis street:


Shenandoah is another impressive east-west city street, and Fox Park looks great along Shenandoah.
Fox Park was obviously disconnected from its neighbors to the north (The Gate District) by I-44. Geyer is the most northern street adjacent to the interstate; there are some rehab opportunities as well as some nice homes on this stretch:


Oregon Street has some new homes that seem to fit in well with their surroundings.  Alone they might look out of place:


But when you flank them with a couple Fox Park originals, they flow (new one to the left):


There are many corner businesses that are active, or rehab ready or just waiting for a creative new use:


 
 
The former Tanner B's restaurant at Nebraska and Shenandoah:
This place, Kim Van, is supposed to offer the elusive St. Paul sandwich, didn't have time to check it out though; whenever I'm in this part of town, it's Fritanga Nicaraguan cuisine that I must enjoy.


Sites along Jefferson in Fox Park include Kakao chocolate and confections, The Way Out Club, and arguably the coolest looking tattoo parlor in the city:  Trader Bob's Tattoos (although there are places in the Patch and Carondelet that may rival them), and some other businesses:


 
Some cool signs sprinkled around Fox Park:


 
The Koken Art Factory on Ohio:
 
My favorite building is on Accomac, check this baby out:


There are beautiful churches. The Catholics made another striking cathedral and parish complex: St. Francis De Sales on Ohio Street which is visible from many points within the hood.


I like the sign on the Lutheran church along Jefferson, it reads "Experience Rebirth in Fox Park", I realize this is a religious thing, but it seems to me like Fox Park is amidst a rebirth of its own. 


There are signs of active rehab and building permits all over the place.  This is what makes me feel so bullish on this part of town:


This recent rehab at Nebraska and Sydney is a real improvement for Fox Park:
Don't let me mislead you though, there are pockets of Fox Park that need some TLC.  There are some trashy properties and there are some vacant homes.  They could use some more intra-neighborhood retail/business (tell me a neighborhood that doesn't), and there was some intentional cul-de-sacs put in place that disconnects the streets from one another.  But...the upside will certainly out weigh the negatives of today.  There is a great mix of small, medium, large homes and some handsome rental apartments.  My mental picture of Fox Park in 10-15 years is that of an urban oasis.  The housing stock diversity will keep an economic mix and the neighborhood should continue to get more walkable and welcoming to all walks of life.

Oh yeah, and the homes within the neighborhood are among the best looking in town:


Check out this mini-mansion, I haven't seen one of these yet:





 
I hope to one day call Fox Park home.

I apologize for the depressing tone of the photos, the weather has been rainy and gloomy.  When the sun breaks through, I may have to revisit my top 5 favorite neighborhoods for some more quality shots.  Fox Park is firmly cemented in my top 5.