The last post of our favorite developments in 2018. This one is cause for celebration. Chippewa Street, Gravois Park and Dutchtown has seen much love this year. Here’s to more smart and sensitive development that respects the built environment and the people that live in this most dense part of St. Louis.
I have to do a little set up to my final two 2018 development posts. I feel these two projects could be the most impactful in years and for those who don’t live, hangout or frequent the Gravois Park area, you need a bit of commentary from someone who loves St. Louis but can see the troubling signs as well.
Per the city website, the park was named in honor of Richard H. Amberg (1912 1967) for his personal distinction and his contributions to the parks and playgrounds of the city. Mr. Amberg also served as publisher of the Globe Democrat for a number of years. (source)
The southern most tip of the near Spring and Delor is seeing some exciting redevelopment of some formerly problematic properties just north of the Holly Hills neighborhood. Here's a bird's eye view of the area:
Several multi-unit apartment buildings between Itaska and Delor on Spring Avenue (built in 1962) are being repurposed with a more modern, contemporary, vibrant look. I love the fact that they didn't just tear down all the old structures, but are redoing some of them to hopefully make them sustainable, positive properties for the future.
For anyone familiar with this area, you know there have been serious crime and other issues with terrible tenant screening, garbage galore and mis-managed properties. The area is at best an eye sore and at worst an uncomfortable, violent place along with the Speedway Mart just across Spring Avenue at Delor. I used to live near here and know firsthand how ugly this part of town had become. Don't believe me? Just check out the 120 CSB complaints on the
website who list the owner as Southtowne Apartments Associates LP at 611 Olive Street, 63103.
Back when I published my Dutchtown neighborhood profile, the properties were looking rough and the tenants had already been evicted in preparation for the renovation:
July, 2011 STL City Talk Photo
July, 2011 STL City Talk Photo
I read of the ongoing work
and decided to check the places out for myself. From the Post-Dispatch article:
The St. Louis Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance and the Dutchtown South Community Corp. are doing the $9 million project jointly. Some redone apartments will be available this month. When completed, Southtowne will have 40 rehabbed units and 11 new apartments. RHCDA, a non-profit housing developer, is reconfiguring the site by demolishing 15 buildings, rehabilitating the remaining 10 and constructing six new buildings. The result will be 51 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and a management office. Renovations include structural enhancements, exterior facelifts, new floor plans, modern amenities and architectural improvements designed to increase market value.
Just from reading the construction sign out front, the former Southtowne Apartments have been rebranded as Fox Manor Apartments and was largely funded by public entities and will be leased out by Vatterott Properties:
Here's what I saw on a beautiful Sunday morning April 7, 2013:
vibrant colors brighten up the street views along Spring
small decks on the second floors; new construction juts out toward rear parking lots
Southern view down Spring from Beckerle Park
Rear parking lot facing apts on Delor which are also part of the re-development
Parking in back?...check. Modern amenities and design?...check. Decent setback from the curb?...check. Excellent re-use as opposed to 100% demo?...check. Next major boxes to check off are
tenant screening and property accountability
...and some new urban street trees would be nice along Spring and Delor.
Overall, I love this project and think it's a great potential step forward for the area.
In other positive news for this part of Dutchtown, St. Mary's High School has continued to invest in their campus. The relative new Divis baseball field is directly across the street and looks absolutely fantastic along with the football and track and field facilities. They are excellent neighbors and keep an amazingly beautiful property.
Let's hope the former apartment buildings on the northwest corner of Spring and Itaska are part of this project as they are in dreadful condition and have not been maintained in their vacancy...people have been inside of these stripping the valuables and partying/squatting. Entry has taken place at ground level on nearly every building and dumping and further property destruction has ensued.
come on in!
The overall site design of these 1960's apartment complexes that face inward toward a "courtyard" appear to be recipes for disaster in St. Louis where consolidation of poor tenants and poor property owners in these settings seem to routinely occur and eventual strips the area of dignity.
The apartments on the northeast corner of Spring and Itaska still appear to be occupied.
Another springboard for the area would be to improve the curb appeal of the small Beckerle Park; some new trees have been planted toward the southern edge; this could be a great spot for dog walkers, etc to enjoy with a little TLC.
Southwest corner of Spring and Itaska
Cheers to Dutchtown, keep fighting the good fight Alderman Cohn and others.
Dutchtown was the first neighborhood I moved to when coming to St. Louis in 1994. I think my rent was around $225/month. Not bad for a recent college grad with no money. I fell in love with the City with Dutchtown as my home base. At that time I rode my bike everywhere and Dutchtown was VERY walkable and easy to get around with many intra-neighborhood businesses, etc. It was a nice place to call home then and now.
Dutchtown takes its name from from Deutsch, i.e., "German", as it was the southern center of German settlement in St. Louis in the early 19th Century. The neighborhood was designed with pride and craftsmanship; it was built to last.