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Crown Square wins national preservation award

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(Flickr Creative Commons User Paul Sableman)
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The old 14th Street Mall in north St. Louis under renovation on June 15,2010.

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – A restoration of the old 14th Street Mall in north St. Louis has won a national award for historic preservation.

The award to Crown Square is a joint recognition from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Crown Square was considered early and quickly for the award, said Royce Yeater, the Midwest director of the trust.

The process that led to the two square blocks of apartments and retail - a joint effort of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance - is one that should be replicated, he said.

"The team working together had a community-based revitalization plan, so it was done with the neighborhood, not so much to the neighborhood," Yeater said.

The project has already generated a lot of positive energy and buzz in Old North, said Claire Wolff, the assistant director at Urban Studio Cafe, a local community gathering space. And the residents she serves were happy to be involved in planning the project.

"I think it's that line between revitalization and gentrification, and I think it's important to look at the community, and look at the people and recognize the people that are living there and see what they want," she said.

Sean Thomas, the executive director of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, called the award a "testament to the community."

"I think it's a real statement from a non-biased party from outside that this a neighborhood that is experiencing a dramatic revitalization and it's a neighborhood with a great future that is built on its very rich history and its wonderful character," he said.

Most of the 80 apartments on the two blocks have been rented, Thomas said, and people have been asking about the commercial space located below.

Thomas and officials with the city will travel to Austin next week to accept the award.

Learn more about Crown Square here

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