Chippewa Park - Gravois Park and Dutchtown

Another fantastic, transformative project, this one is A pluses on all fronts. I first read about this project back in January, 2018 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

A $12.8 million rehab of 16 vacant buildings in the south St. Louis neighborhoods of Dutchtown and Gravois Park is about to kick off.

Known as the Chippewa Park project, it’s a partnership of Rise Community Development and Chris Shearman of Lutheran Development Group. It’s one of several redevelopments proposed in the corridor along the eastern portion of Chippewa Street, including plans from Cherokee Street property owner Jason Deem to rehab several buildings in the area.

Chippewa Park’s plans call for restoring vacant century-old buildings in the south side neighborhoods between Jefferson Avenue on the east and Nebraska Avenue on the west and bounded to the north by Cherokee and Osage Street on the south.
— Jacob Barker - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I made my case for why this part of South City is ripe for this kind of love and attention to affordable housing, rehabbing beautiful, aging buildings and a dose of positivity in an area that has been abused by no-dignity residents and landlords for years. Clustering this much investment on a specific area is thrilling and will likely be the biggest, kind-hearted, well-intentioned project to hit the state street neighborhoods in years.

This is yet another enterprise, like the Kranzberg Arts Foundation project , where I just want to say “thank you” to all parties involved. You are the ones that are actually doing something about our very real problems.

The groundbreaking took place back in April, 2018; here’s Rise STL’s summary:

“This past year, Rise and Lutheran Development Group (LDG) began a long-term, multi-dimensional community development partnership focused on Benton Park West, Gravois Park, and Dutchtown—three of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis. The area includes some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis and State of Missouri. It is surrounded by several prosperous neighborhoods, bisected or bounded by thriving and growing commercial corridors and located within the largest historic district in the State. Rise has also facilitated a community-driven planning process for this area, known as the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods Plan.

Chippewa Park was born from a moral imperative to help correct the imbalance of investment occurring in surrounding neighborhoods by addressing the considerable shortage of quality affordable housing options in the more densely populated Gravois Park and Dutchtown communities. The project includes the complete renovation of fourteen currently vacant and abandoned multi-family buildings in the Jefferson-Gravois Streetcar Suburb historic district. The 46 residential dwellings fill mostly two and four family buildings in the area generally bounded by Osage Street to the south, Nebraska Avenue to the west, Jefferson Avenue to the east, and Cherokee Street to the north—with the project’s heart centered on Chippewa Street, where the development team will rehabilitate several mixed-use buildings and provide approximately 8,500 square feet of space to support retail and other commercial activity along this former street-car line.”

Per Lutheran Development Group:

“The first in what is expected to be a series of developments in the community is a co-development from Lutheran Development Group and Rise named Chippewa Park.  Chippewa Park is an $12+ million historic renovation of fifteen buildings into forty-six affordable apartments and three commercial spaces. Financing for the project includes tax exempt bonds, low-income tax credits, and City Home funds.

After 2 ½ years of planning, two application cycles, and predevelopment, the partnership closed on all real estate by the end of December, 2017. Closing on financing occurred in mid February, 2018. The first properties will be leased in Fall, 2018, with construction completion in May 2019.”

This team has done work in Tower Grove East and Fox Park, where we currently live. They did an amazing amount of work to bring affordable housing while rehabbing and saving several key properties in the neighborhood. It was called East Fox Homes and I’d say it was a perfect project.

So now that you know who’s involved and what’s in the future, let’s take a look at what the construction looks like to date and how some of the buildings targeted for rehab look as of publishing.

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Some of the apartment buildings are multi-unit, the kind that will take quality landlords to maintain. This is promising as these types of properties can quickly become a nuisance when they are poorly managed.

This, along with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation project and South Side Spaces work in the area show continuous investment in the area that will be transformative developments for St. Louis.

South Side Spaces is rehabbing an incredible building that I thought would fall to the elements over the years. It was in rough shape, and I’m so happy to see the diversity of investment in the area. This building at California and Chippewa is a massive, 1920’s beauty.

2755 Chippewa Street

2755 Chippewa Street

California Avenue view

California Avenue view

Estimated to be completed in late 2018, the building will add four commercial storefronts to an ever-improving corridor; the neighboring Gooseberries building to the south was renovated within the last 10 years, and construction is similarly underway at the southwest corner of Chippewa & California. These affordable, small-scale retail storefronts will range in size from 300 to 600 square feet and provide much-needed space for burgeoning local businesses. Small storefronts have been in high demand on Cherokee and the immediate area, as a way for businesses to grow and get rooted in the community without breaking the bank.

Three of the seven residential units will be rent-restricted, dedicating space for low-income households. One of the units will be street-level and accessible. All of the apartments will feature Energy Star rated appliances, a washer/dryer in each space, and finishes like hardwood floors. Plans call for an access control system at common doors, allowing for ease of access by tenants and guests, as well as interior bike storage on the first level.
— South Side Spaces

I’m thrilled and will continue to keep my eye on this tipping point area of the city. The future looks brighter than ever in my twenty plus years living here.

2018 was a good year for our fair city.