Delmar DivINe - 2017 Development Proposal Favorite

The thought of another project north of Delmar is enough cause for good news. Delmar DivINe, the caps referencing the dividing line we're all aware of immediately catches your eye and addresses the history of this part of the city head-on.

NextSTL first reported on this in March, 2017 shining a light on a project that would convert the shuttered hospital to a mixed-use property with apartments, retail, office and shared work spaces serving the immediate community.

This property at 5535 Delmar is on the border of the West End Neighborhood. The central corridor neighborhoods just north of Delmar, including Fountain Park, Academy, Visitation Park and the West End are incredible and seem to be lying in wait for more investment. Delmar DivINe seems to be a righteous bridge toward the future.

The Delmar Divine will transform a corner of St. Louis City that has been neglected into a vibrant social venture innovation district and living laboratory of change. Built off a proven model of success, The Delmar Divine is fueled by the collective effort of passionate individuals with common goals.

The Delmar Divine is a robust mixed use development built for community practitioners and other diverse stakeholders. It is built on the foundation of collaborative resources, inclusion of many stakeholders and sustainability. The Delmar Divine offers living and working space where organizations and individuals can see the effects of their efforts in the future of work. In this physical space people work together, are easily accessible to clients, enabling the ability to witness the impact of their hard work in real-time.
— Delmar Divine Website
 Rendering from:  http://delmardivine.com/

Rendering from:  http://delmardivine.com/

This is a historic property built in 1904 and added onto throughout the years up until 1975 when St. Luke's vacated St. Louis for then small town Chesterfield, Missouri (now ~43K residents and growing), providing a massive blow to this part of St. Louis. St. Luke's-related operations ceased in full by 1985 and the property reconfigured itself as several health care organizations including Charter Hospital and Connect Care. The hospital closed down for good in 2014 never truly recovering from the suburban migration. A win for the suburbs usually comes in the form as a loss in St. Louis. This is a perfect example.

But the reason this makes the list of our favorites from 2017 is this project really seems to get it and address the history of the city and the Delmar Divide head-on and embracing the neighborhood in its current state with an eye toward the future.

From a May, 2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article:

A partnership led by former Build-A-Bear CEO Maxine Clark and a subsidiary of Chicago-based Clayco Inc. plans a $90 million rehab that will turn the old St. Luke’s Hospital on Delmar Boulevard into apartments and collaborative office space designed for nonprofit organizations.

Delmar DivINe, as its backers call it, envisions 180,000 square feet of office space in its first phase for area nonprofits and community organizations as well as 160 apartments. Ground-floor retail space will house neighborhood businesses: a bank, restaurants, maybe a gym or an early childhood center.

“The Delmar DivINe is a reference to the location — the dividing line of St. Louis,” Clark said in a statement. “We’re giving new life to this historic corner of the West End neighborhood — on the north side of Delmar between Clara and Belt (avenues) — that will provide a headquarters location to not-for-profit organizations and community support providers that focus on improving the lives of children and families in St. Louis.”
— Jacob Barker - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

No beating around the bush with the Delmar Divide, the "history" page of the Delmar Divine website starts with a brief history of the racist housing and realty policies that carved up the city into areas where African-Americans could purchase homes and where they could not. The appeal is that this project really seems to want to bridge the gap in our city and become a positive part of the neighborhood.

From the Delmar Divine website:

The Delmar Divine will form the backbone of a new vision for Delmar Boulevard, transforming the “Delmar Divide” into a divine community: an incubator and inspirator for change in a healthy, thriving neighborhood. This social innovation avenue will be a space that facilitates conversations, learning resources, individual professional development and systemic benchmarking practices while offering state of the art technology in a shared space setting.

The Delmar Divine uniquely maximizes the human and financial capital of St. Louis’ leading social service agencies. It accomplishes this by tapping into resources of St. Louis based national and local social service organizations while attracting new organizations to the area. The Delmar Divine will redefine the West End neighborhood to be a place where St. Louisans want to raise families, send their children to school, work, relax and play.
— Delmar Divine

Maxine Clark has an impressive track record in the city as well, as St. Louis Magazine reported in May, 2017:

The vision comes partly from Maxine Clark, founder and retired CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop. The idea for Delmar DivINe came to her about four years ago, when she opened the KIPP Victory Academy in the same area.

”I got to know the neighborhood, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really a great neighborhood. Why hasn’t anyone thought about this as a hub?’” Clark says. Once the hospital building became available, “it all clicked.”
— Sarah Kloepple - St. Louis Magazine

While a lot of public revenue streams are up in the air, there is much cause for hope. The Delmar DivINe website says "Coming in 2019". Keep your eye on this one, I think it is just what we need at this point in our history.

Cheers to all the big thinkers listening to people in the neighborhoods and spending time & effort toward reversing a troubling time in our past.