Vacant Land

A crew member with Matt's Health Woods & Wildlife plants hybrid poplar trees in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood of St. Louis. Fresh Coast Capital is leasing 42 parcels from the city for an urban tree farm. July 13, 2016
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A small crew spent Wednesday morning planting poplar trees on several parcels of vacant land in St. Louis’ Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.

A company called Fresh Coast Capital is leasing 42 parcels from the city’s Land Reutilization Authority for $1 a year. The city will receive about 2 percent of the revenue when the company harvests and seels the hybrid poplar trees in 10 to 12 years.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Land Reutilization Authority owns more than 11,000 parcels in the city of St. Louis.

It’s a land mass roughly the size of Forest Park.

St. Louis has the distinction of having the oldest land bank in the country, created by a Missouri state statute in 1971. It was a response to St. Louis’ quickly shrinking population after reaching a height of 856,000 people in 1950.

Mow to Own
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio)

The parcel next to Eltorean Hawkins’ home looks like his side yard.

He’s been mowing the grass and cutting the weeds since he bought his house two years ago, even though the land belongs to the city's Land Reutilization Authority.

Now all Hawkins has to do is pay $125 and keep mowing for another two years, and the deed goes to him.

It’s called Mow to Own.

This property on N. Grand Blvd has been in the city's land bank since 2001. It's one of more than 3,000 abandoned buildings the city is trying to find a use for or sell.
City of St. Louis | LRA website

St. Louis’ strategy for combating blight and reducing the amount of abandoned property in the city is getting revamped. A team from the city spent much of last week discussing the issue during a Center for Community Progress event held at Harvard University.

Land Lab Aims To Find New Use for Vacant Lots

Apr 26, 2013
Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

If you live in any big city in the Midwest, and St. Louis in particular, you’re probably all too familiar with the site of vacant, empty land where homes and businesses used to be. 

This issue of vacant land in an otherwise urban environment presents tough challenges for cities.  This weekend ground will be broken on several projects which aim to change the way neighborhoods and cities deal with vacant property.