Friday, March 18, 2011

The Wells/Goodfellow Neighborhood

Wells/Goodfellow is a north St. Louis neighborhood bound by the city limits to the north west, Union to the south east, MLK to the south west and Natural Bridge to the north east:
Wells/Goodfellow abuts the St. Louis County suburb of Pine Lawn.

The 2000 census data counted 8,193 residents (down 29% from 1990's count) of whom 98% were black, 1% white. There were 4,063 housing units counted, 73% occupied (46%/54% owner/renter split).  Wells/Goodfellow is not a place people (read black people as it's been 98% black since for at least 10 years) want to live.  It lost another 20-30% from 2000-2010 if you use this analysis.   A 28% loss was the official census count in 2010 with insignificant racial shifts. It's bleeding residents at an alarming rate.  This neighborhood appears years away from attracting a diverse set of people.  Sweeping, innovative, new thinking is needed if this part of St. Louis is every to be a place visited and cherished by the region.  Whatever has been going on in the last 20 years is not working, people are voting with their feet.

Here's a sign entering the Wells/Goodfellow marking the St. Louis city limits.  Unfortunately, the signs will need to be updated to the depressingly low number of 319,294 as counted in the 2010 Census.
Note the vacant gasometer in the background.  This is natural gas pumping station N; these used to be seen in Forest Park Southeast and the St. Louis County suburb of Shrewsbury before they were dismantled.  This may be the last one in the area:
Here's some information from the scant neighborhood website:
Institutions:
The Wells/Goodfellow neighborhood is to the south of the former General Motors Plant which is the new home of Union-70 Center Industrial Park. Both its perimeter streets and Goodfellow Boulevard are lined with many businesses. In the neighborhood are St. Louis Comprehensive Health Center and Mound City Medical Center. There are also many religious institutions including New Bible Days-United Church of God in Christ, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and a Large Islamic Center. Barrett Brothers Park is also in Wells/Goodfellow.

Characteristics:

The Wells/Goodfellow neighborhood is dominated by many single family dwellings in both the Dutch style and those built in the shotgun style. There are also many two and four family buildings primarily located on its major streets. The neighborhood is prime for redevelopment with many available structures and lots.
The former GM plant I assume was the Chevrolet pickup truck plant that was closed and moved to Janesville, Wisconsin.  Or, was this the same plant that built Corvettes from 1954-1981 on Union and Natural Bridge before it was closed due to environmental issues and moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky?  There are some great photos of Corvettes being assembled in the city, at this website.

And here's a great KETC video on the Corvette's made in St. Louis.  Alright enough of that, back to the neighborhood as it is today.

As with any neighborhoods in a state of severe residential decline, there are signs of when the area was thriving and quite dense; but sadly, those days are over.  There were the once bustling commercial corridors of MLK, Natural Bridge, Goodfellow, Union and St. Louis Avenue, as well as signs of many intra-neighborhood corner stores:
Here are some of the eye catching structures along Union:
Yes, the above is a beautiful church, one of many in the Wells/Goodfellow neighborhood:
There are some really cool signs (old and present) and other reminders of the time when this area was hopping:
This is one of my all time favorite buildings in the city:
The main commercial corridors as seen today are largely set up to service cars and also have many resale and discount shops as well as many junk food/liquor stores.  I didn't take many photos of those, and chose to focus on the cooler looking abandoned properties and existing businesses:
Overall, the housing stock is in sad shape, there are blocks of vacant land and dumping is rampant.   It would be entirely dishonest if I did not make the point clear that much of the housing stock in Wells/Goodfellow is in varying states of decay and the future looks rather grim in parts.  This is one of those parts of town that you will likely be challenged as to your existence in the neighborhood.  Here are some photos to prove my point:
However, there are streets that are holding on and are quite pridefully maintained and look pretty much like anywhere else in the city:
There are some beautiful schools in the neighborhood.  The Gundlach School on 2931 Arlington which closed its doors on June 3, 2008 is a classic designed by architect George Sanger in 1931:
Then you have the Pierre Laclede School at 5821 Kennerly which was designed by architect William B. Ittner in 1914; the school was awarded the National Blue Ribbon/Gold Star award in 2003:
And if you are a mid-century-modern fan, check out the Langston Middle School at 5511 Wabada:
As per the description on the neighborhood site, and it's close proximity to Mark Twain/I-70 Industrial neighborhood, this has long been a neighborhood that was close to the manufacturing industries of days gone by; here are some interesting former factories near Maffitt and Hamilton that caught my eye:
Arguably the brightest ray of hope is the Arlington Grove development that is incorporating the rehab of Arlington School as it's centerpiece.  Here's some info from this source:
Construction has started on the Arlington Grove residential redevelopment project in north St. Louis. When complete it will include 112 mixed-income rental units in garden apartments, townhouse and semi-detached housing, along with a new mixed-use building and rehabilitation of the historic Arlington Elementary School. All together, the redevelopment will total 162,000 square feet of residential space and 5,000 square feet of commercial space.
The school renovation will include 21 apartments. The rest of the Arlington Grove’s residential space will be 91 new-construction townhomes and garden apartments. All of the units are designed to meet mandatory Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) criteria as required by the Capital Fund Recovery Competition (CFRC) grant, a stimulus-related grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that helped pay for the $41 million development.
The redevelopment will contain market rate units, Low Income Housing Tax Credit units for tenants at 60 percent of the area median income, HOME units and public housing units. According to the developer McCormack Baron Salazar, Arlington Grove is considered one of the first EGC “green” designed mixed- income projects in the country, and the first for the city of St. Louis and Missouri.
Environmentally friendly features incorporated into the development’s design by KAI Design & Build–Arlington Grove’s architect, engineer, general contractor and building information modeling coordinator–include Energy-Star appliances and fixtures, high-efficiency HVAC systems, solar panels, water-conserving appliances and fixtures, and the reduction of heat-island effect through highly reflective roof shingles and pervious paving. During construction, KAI Design & Build will practice water-management techniques, as well as the recycling of content materials.
“The development’s green design will absolutely make it competitive in the marketplace,” Anthony Summers, KAI Design & Build senior project manager, tells MHN. “One attractive feature of the development is its more efficient heating, cooling and plumbing systems. Tenants can anticipate lower utility bills as a result of these systems, and that is an attractive benefit.”
The development is part of a larger effort to revitalize this part of the city of St. Louis, undertaken by a number of local organizations, including Friendly Temple Church, the City of St. Louis, Ald. Jeffrey Boyd, the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis and the St. Louis Housing Authority. Construction on the Arlington Grove redevelopment is expected to be complete in spring 2012.

Here's what the construction site looks like today:
Hopefully the positivity of Arlington Grove will spread and more rehabbing and infill sprouts up in Wells/Goodfellow.  So go check it out and when you are in the neighborhood, make sure you stop by the landmark Goody Goody Diner:
Here's to a brighter future for Wells/Goodfellow and end to the nearly 30% declines in residency seen over the past 20 + years.

6 comments:

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural said...

There's a house at 5715 Theodosia that I really like the exterior and it is in a corner of Wells-Goodfellow. When I pulled up Google Maps, I saw a great deal of lots and it reminded me of a neighborhood in Kansas City on the hill to the east of downtown that is like that. I'm wondering if it's a house I should consider or not. Does anyone have any input? I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Wayne Brasler said...

I grew up at Roosevelt Place just east of Hamilton from 1940 through fall of 1954. The neighborhood in the '40s was rural. To the west and north of our four-family flat (from which came a Missouri lt. governor, a famous journalist and teacher, an award-winning nurse and an acclaimed sculptor) was open pasture. The Wabash railroad ran to the north and the City Limits streetcar to the west. Laclede School, one of the best in the city, anchored the community, which blended Catholics, Jews and everything in-between in an extended family setting. The neighborhood was impeccably maintained and a wonderful place for kids. Our downstairs neighbor had a stable and pony next to the flat(!) and to its west was a gigantic blackberry patch. We shopped in Wellston, where you could buy anything and saw everyone. A world totally gone by. There was no reason for the neighborhood to decline and collapse except almost total neglect from the city, the story all over urban St. Louis, much of which is a tragic ghost town.

Maia Dobson said...

Structures like these must have great plumbing systems. I like the architecture of the buildings too.

Long Island plumbers

Anonymous said...

Some of my best days as a kid were spent in Wellston! It's hard to believe the total neglect and apathy that led to this vibrant shopping area's demise.

Anonymous said...

My family purchased property in the 5900 block of Kennerly in 1958, and I still reside there. It's been very sad to see the are just spiral downward day by day. The writer probably wasn't aware of a government facility [Army Reserve] that took up the north side of the street; it was torn down in the early 80's. The Wellston shopping district was absolutely fantastic. The stores I remember are: Central Hardware; JC Penney; Jupitor's; Woolworth's; Florsheim Shoes; Worth's; Fox Records; Allen-Brooks; the White Mill Diner; Joe's Records; National Shirt Shop; National's. There was very nice library branch, a couple of full service bakeries, several corner neighborhood stores, barber & beauty salons, too. I attended Laclede School from K-8; several teacher's and the principal lived in the area. It's shameful that city's administration has allowed this neighborhood and North Saint Louis to decay. This side of town looks like a war zone compared to areas similar in architecture south of Delmar!

Anonymous said...

My parents bought a house on the 5300 block of Cote Brilliante in 1960. I graduated college, moved out of town, and they moved to Jennings in North St. Louis County in 1990.

The block and the neighborhood really looks neglected in these photos, on google, and whenever I drive thru the area. I have not been back in over two years and have no plans to return as both my parents have died and my sisters and I sold our parents' house in Jennings.

Yes, it is a shame that it looks so rundown. Some of the homes looked bombed out. Sad...