"Affordable" housing a key part of new development coming to Forest Park Southeast neighborhood
Washington University’s medical campus in St. Louis will be getting a lot of new neighbors in the next couple of years, thanks to a new mixed-income development plan nearby.
The $27-million project will include 150 units of housing to buy and rent for both low- and middle-income residents in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. It aims to continue in the southern part of the area the revitalization seen in The Grove’s shopping and entertainment district to the north.
The Forest Park Southeast neighborhood is bordered by I-44 to the south, Kingshighway to the west, I-64 to the north and Vandeventer Avenue to the east.
The plan is sponsored by the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation, a partnership between WashU’s medical school and BJC HealthCare.
Executive director Brian Phillips said the project is guided by a key tenet of the neighborhood’s master plan to “maintain the mixed-income nature of the neighborhood.”
“It was always envisioned as a neighborhood as people of various incomes, various races could all cohabitate together and have walkable services,” he said. “Instead of having really segregated areas where you are segregating low-income people on one particular block and middle-income on another, our goal was to intermix those units together, so you get a more traditional neighborhood.”
Phillips said the Adams Grove project would mirror the traditional character of the northern part of the neighborhood, where the historic district is.
"The twist here is this is all new construction,” he said.
Phillips said the corporation has been working with neighborhood stakeholders for 20 years. In the last decade, it has slowly bought up vacant property in the area to create the “transformative” project — one Phillips calls the “cornerstone of the culmination of what we’re trying to do.”
Work on the project will begin in the next two weeks, starting with demolition of old buildings. Rental units should be completed in the next 18 months, while homes will be built in phases and completed in 24-28 months. Rents will range from $515 for a one-bedroom apartment to $950 for four bedrooms.
Rise Community Development's Adams Grove project will feature 50 affordable townhomes and garden apartments, subsidized by low-income tax credits. Phillips said he is confident that these credits, which are renewed about every 15 years, are likely to be continually re-upped. That will ensure that the neighborhood retains “permanently affordable” living space, he said.
Unify Grove Development will build 46 new market-rate houses and 60 units in three apartment buildings. They are entirely privately funded.
Phillips said all units will be modern constructions.
“It provides a different type of architecture, so it’s probably going to attract another diverse group of people that are looking for modern architecture to this section of the city,” he said. “So that creates yet another opportunity to blend this neighborhood and stay true to the tenet of we really want a really diverse neighborhood in this area.”
Phillips said he hopes this project helps dispel “a lot of negativity around urban living still here in this region” and attracts people to live in the city.
“You can have a vibrant urban community where everybody is welcome, where there’s a place for people of all income levels and different lifestyle choices, and that you can live in a very vibrant, safe neighborhood and really thrive,” he said.
Phillips said he hopes the project will eventually serve as a model for other neighborhoods to pursue mixed-income housing developments.
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