Gentrification | St. Louis Public Radio

Gentrification

Tawana Lawson inside her new home in JeffVanderLou on December 4, 2019. Lawson has worked with north St. Louis kids for years and will continue her outreach work as part of a rent-to-own agreement with nonprofit LOVEtheLOU.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Tawana Lawson’s 8-year-old grandson visits his new home, he heads straight for the cupboard under the stairs.

“Logan loves books, so he decided it would be his reading nook,” Lawson said.

Lawson and her family plan to move from a two-bedroom north St. Louis apartment into the nearly 130-year-old brick house in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood this week. Less than a year ago, the home was sitting empty, its plaster walls crumbling into dust. 

Maplewood Richmond Heights' Early Childhood Center is less diverse than the overall district, reflecting a decade of changing demographics in Maplewood.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The two-story house Laine Schenkelberg purchased on Maplewood’s Marietta Avenue in 2009 was supposed to be a starter home. A decade later, she shares the house with her husband, Eric, and their four children ages 7 months to 9 years, along with a cat.

When it was time for their oldest, Xavier, to begin school, the couple toured private options, but nothing felt quite right. Then a friend persuaded them to check out the Early Childhood Center, run by the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

Adam Brown is getting his masters in public policy at UMSL, and Liz Deichmann is an UMSL doctoral student studying political science.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers connected with students in the Ruhr area of Germany to get a sense of how gentrification manifests in post-industrial cities like St. Louis.

They submitted their final presentation, “Clean Walls = Higher Rents?! Gentrification Debates in Legacy Cities” to the intercultural student project, “Future of My City,” and they recently won first place in the initiative's competition.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, UMSL graduate student Adam Brown and doctoral student Liz Deichmann talked about the findings of their study, including the ways Dortmund, Germany, has implemented practices that mitigate the issues of gentrification, like the displacement of low-income residents by the more affluent.

Doris Fiddmont Frazier, center, and other parishioners worship at Union Baptist Church, a fixture in Westland Acres.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Those familiar with St. Louis neighborhoods are probably also familiar with the concept of gentrification. The latest episode of the We Live Here podcast, “Paved over Histories”, tackles this issue with its eye on the west St. Louis County community of Westland Acres.

A faded and tattered U.S. flag catches the breeze in the yard of a vacant property in the Gravois Park neighborhood on June 30, 2018.
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

Gravois Park has an unlikely advocate for inclusive development in a 12-year-old girl who wants to see the vacant buildings and lots on her block be transformed into safe, liveable places.

Deyon Ryan’s passion for the issue is partly influenced by her father, DeAndre Brown, who has been vocal on the issue. Deyon wrote about the vacancy problem in school and it caught the attention of local groups.