St. Louis University is planning to build homes for sale on 43 grassy lots scattered among existing houses just east of its medical campus on Grand Avenue.
The university acquired the properties in the Gate District neighborhood over the course of decades. In some cases it tore down deteriorating structures. Now, its development arm is working closely with the neighborhood association to build the homes.
Brooks Goedeker, executive director of the university’s St. Louis Midtown Redevelopment Corp., said the plan was never to use the property to expand its medical school.
“It was more of, 'What can we do to help stabilize the neighborhood?' and this was a call from the community for SLU to help,” he said.
Paul Carter, who has lived in the Gate District neighborhood for the past four years, is the chair of the neighborhood association’s development committee. The group recently submitted a request for proposals and will hear back from developers in November. He’s hoping to break ground on the project in the spring.
Carter said his neighbors tell him the future housing, along Vista and Park avenues, is necessary to bring back a sense of community that was lost during a time of heightened crime.
“This I think of as being a much-delayed phase to go back and try to rebuild in the neighborhood,” he said. “So those neighbors that had endured that time are very, very thankful to have this kind of development starting to happen.”
Carter’s committee will review all proposals and select the developers. The committee wants the construction to fit the character of the historic single-family homes on the streets.
Habitat for Humanity has purchased several other lots in the neighborhood to build affordable housing.
The big picture
The housing development is just one element of a larger vision for the land around SLU’s campuses.
Goedeker said the ongoing projects are a push to bring more redevelopment to the area — like housing, office space and stores. It’s also a way of better connecting its main campus in Midtown and its medical campus in Tiffany. While it’s only a mile between the two, Goedeker said many students and faculty members don't feel comfortable walking back and forth. There’s currently a shuttle that runs between them.
“It’s really creating a really nice mixed-use district, almost looking at it as a 24/7 district and as part of it creating really this nice walkable environment,” he said.
Goedeker said the developments aren’t just to improve student and faculty life. He also hopes they bring people from around the city to the area.
Within the next few years, many of these projects will come to life. “2020 and then 2021 are going to be great years around here,” Goedeker said.
The university’s new SSM Health hospital is slated to open in September of next year.
The Armory District and City Foundry, both along Interstate 64, are two other major developments in the works.
Goedeker said the Armory is moving into the second phase of development now that a $15 million project to improve its roof and windows is complete. He said the building’s developers have received interest from several office tenants about leasing the property.
City Foundry — a mixed-use development that will host local eateries and a movie theater — will begin opening in the spring. The seven-story Element hotel across the street is expected to open next summer.
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