Well, this one blew my mind when I first read about it on NextSTL back in May, 2018. It’s hard to beat this kind of project…preservation, arts elevation, affordable living, a part of the city in dire need of TLC.
This part of town is still densely populated, but abandonment is becoming a serious problem. Vacancy, deferred maintenance and property destruction is on full display.
The tipping point of a decent, dignified future vs. a path toward full decay is upon us.
Gravois Park needs love, hope and dignity. This project is exactly the thing we need. I am so proud of the folks working to make this happen. These people should be the future leaders in our city.
Thank you. What you are doing is important and felt by citizens who care. The project team includes Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Incarnate Word Foundation and the Regional Arts Commission.
“The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has a vision for the city of St. Louis.
We believe our artists, communities, and cultural experiences represent the heart and soul of our city—and we are committed to providing the opportunities and resources necessary for the arts to thrive, now and in the future.
Since 2006, we have been passionately committed to providing local, emerging artists and community arts organizations the vital space and tools to perform and showcase their work, thus fulfilling the collective vision not only to be part of a vibrant and growing arts ecosystem, but a premier arts and entertainment destination.
Through the development of performing arts venues, visual arts galleries, free music programs and work spaces for nonprofit arts organizations, we nurture the growth of artists, while working with emerging and leading arts institutions to engage with St. Louis’ greater community in ways that are relevant, inclusive and inspiring.
Our need-based, ground-up approach to giving is at the heart of our mission to make St. Louis a true destination for artists to thrive and a more inspiring and interesting place for us all to live.”
Here’s what the project in bringing:
25 vacant lots and buildings is clearly a massive endeavor. Here’s the map of properties from the NextSTL article:
That map is important. The properties are extremely concentrated. When I was here for photographs, the clustering and density of the project was obvious and impactful. It’s easy to see how, upon completion, this project will transform the neighborhood.
You turn a corner and there’s another one! Turn around and there’s another across the street. It was like an Easter egg hunt.
Also interesting is the fact that while buildings in the area are eligible for federal and state tax credits, the team is not planning on using them (source).
Now, reading about this from behind the computer screen brings a certain level of optimism, for sure. But, you have to check out the area for yourself to dream about the impact this will have.
The properties chosen by the foundation are rough and in dire need of stability and investment. Here are just a few examples.
It’s easy to spot the buildings purchased as part of this project due to the paintings on the plywood used as board ups in the interim. This was an organized effort from Dutchtown South Community Corporation who enlisted the local community and schools to work together to foster creativity and get involvement from the folks who live here now.
You have to get your sea legs on what the area is like, what is needed and the improvements that are already taking place to bring hope.
You can see there is great diversity in the properties selected includes homes ranging from 1-3 stories, Dutch Colonials, sided, brick, charming gangway entrances, etc. The homes will elevated the blocks they are on and save the incredible architecture in the neighborhood.
Another reason to love the location, is it’s proximity to Froebel School, one that has seen some impressive recent investment around the school including speed bumps and crosswalks. It’s the little signs of city investment that can make a huge difference and shine a ray of hope through the low-dignity crap that goes on here.
The hope that this wave of investment can spur others to live better and invest in sweat equity and property upkeep in the neighborhood in the kind of thing that will keep me optimistic for another year in St. Louis.
We need this kind of dedication and hard work all over the city. Gravois Park is a perfect neighborhood to focus this kind of attention and investment on.
Can’t praise this one enough, clearly a 2018 development favorite.