The City of St. Louis has some of the highest home vacancy rates in the country, and last month the mayor of Detroit made news when he laid out ambitious plans to demolish as many as 10,000 vacant buildings by the end of his term.
With costs for maintenance and upkeep running in the tens of millions, many Rust Belt cities often find it expedient to simply demolish empty buildings in favor of vacant lots and the hope of future development.
But taking down problem properties creates a whole new set of issues which are often overlooked.
Over the past four decades Richard Baron has made a name for himself as a pioneering developer of blighted urban neighborhoods. Baron’s firm, McCormack Baron Salazar has completed scores of projects in St. Louis and across the Midwest. As a native of Detroit, Mich., Baron came to Missouri in the late 1960s.
St. Louis Public Radio’s Adam Allington sat down with Baron at a housing conference of the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he asked him to elaborate on some of the development challenges—and similarities—between Detroit and St. Louis.