The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded a $29.5 million grant to a team of developers to revitalize and transform the Near North Side neighborhood, which encompasses an area directly north of downtown St. Louis. The area runs from the riverfront to Jefferson Avenue on the west side and Washington Avenue on the south side to St. Louis Avenue near the Old North neighborhood on the north side.
Urban Strategies is one member of the team that will be responsible for redeveloping the area, focusing on the “people component” of the work with programming that encompasses residents in the development planning process.
On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by Esther Shin, the new president of Urban Strategies, who succeeded Sandra Moore in January, to discuss the project. Urban Strategies is considered a leader in comprehensive neighborhood revitalization.
The primary grantee partner for the HUD grant is the City of St. Louis, but many other partners are involved in the planning process.
Prior to the grant submission, Shin said, there was a 16-month planning period that included over 600 neighborhood and partner stakeholders as well as 150 meetings to determine what the vision for the community would be and who needed to be a part of the planning process.
At the center of the plan for the grant are three main pillars of development:
- Housing: McCormick Baron Salazar will work to revitalize the Preservation Square housing development, with units being brought up-to-date, enlarged. The number of units of affordable housing will increase in the area.
- Neighborhood: There are plans to develop the neighborhood with transportation, greenspace, retail and commercial vitality.
- People: Programs will be implemented to promote mental and physical health as well as cradle-to-college career programs.
While the federal government is providing $29.5 million in funding, this will leverage at least $2.2 billion in local funding through cash and in-kind services, Shin said. Part of that includes the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new $1.8 billion western headquarters, which will go into the neighborhood as well as a $5 million stretch of Great Rivers Greenway’s 600-mile network of greenways.
“For some of the projects, financing and resources are a challenge,” Shin said. “There are never enough resources. Thirty million sounds like a lot of money, but in reality it is a drop in the bucket when talking about total community transformation. When we talk about the kinds of programs we’d like to see around youth social enterprise development, there’s just not enough money.”
Shin said that the development process is still ongoing and that community members are welcome to comment on it at any time.
“The door is always open,’ Shin said. “We want to be as inclusive and transparent as possible. If community folks want us to speak about the program, we’re always happy to do that. In order for this to be successful, it won’t be because of Urban Strategies, it will be because there was strong support behind it from the city and people in our community.”
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.