Updated at 5:00 p.m. with further information about planning partners and neighborhood boundaries.
The neighborhood centered around an 1,800-unit assisted housing project just north of downtown St. Louis will be the focus of a $500,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday.
Originally called O’Fallon Place and recently renamed “Preservation Square,” the Section 8 housing complexes are inside the footprint of Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration project.
Non-profit Urban Strategies received the grant, and will partner with more than 40 organizations to come up with a plan to provide both physical improvements to the buildings and socio-economic development for the entire Near North Side neighborhood.
Urban Strategies President Sandra Moore said that O’Fallon has become a strain on surrounding neighborhoods.
Near North stretches from west of North Jefferson Avenue along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, to Tucker Boulevard, then further east along Cole Street to Interstate 44. Its northern boundary lies north of Cass Avenue.
Partners include government bodies, such as the city and St. Louis Public Schools, and private groups such as McCormack Baron Salazar, which manages O’Fallon Place. Paul McKee's company, McEagle Properties, is also a partner.
“If you drive through (the north corridor), there are huge areas of strength and then there are areas that are weakening,” Moore said. “this housing is 30-plus years old and it has weakened. And the families in it represent very low-income families, many of whom are struggling,” Moore said.
In addition to rebuilding O’Fallon Place and planning for infrastructure such as street lamps and small parks, Moore said Urban Strategies and its partners will look at what needs to be done to “help our most vulnerable households be vibrant and living well in this community.”
The $500,000 grant awarded to Urban Strategies to plan a way to revitalize O’Fallon Place is one of seven announced today by HUD, and is part of a national HUD initiative to help bring new life to areas with assisted housing called Choice Neighborhoods.
HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti came to St. Louis to announce the O’Fallon Place grant.
Coloretti said St. Louis stood out as a good recipient for the grant because “St. Louis has an amazing capacity to deliver on the things it says it’s going to do.”
“One of the things HUD tries to look for is not just is there a great need, and there is here, particularly in north St. Louis. But can St. Louis deliver on what it says it’s going to do. And we happen to be at the crossroad of both those things,” Coloretti said, adding that the partnership with more than 40 government and private organizations in particular made St. Louis stand out.
Once Urban Strategies and its partner organizations develop a plan for O’Fallon Place and the Near Northside Neighborhood, it will have to reapply for funding from HUD to put the plan into action.
"Being a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grantee is a good thing,"Coloretti said. "It doesn't guarantee you're going to get implementation money, but it puts you in a good position to get it."
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.