East of Saint Louis University Hospital, In Transition

Update: I revisited the area in the fall of 2022.

I was worried about the blocks east of Grand Boulevard and the SLU medical campus that I include in the Tiffany neighborhood, but is really part of the greater Compton Hill area, a richly historic African American community. SLU had been buying up huge swaths of land and combining the parcels into superblocks, and I was worried the land would stay fallow and tax-exempt in an income-starved city for decades. As can be seen above, the empty lots on Park Avenue, which I looked at in two parts, here and here back in 2016, are seeing in-fill built.

But the side streets, which I also looked at back in 2013, are also filled with wonderful housing stock, and many contain vacant lots that have sat empty when the redevelopment to the east of Compton Avenue occurred decades ago. UIC, which was responsible for the work in McRee Town, is now developing in this area, as well.

West of Compton Avenue, away from those historic houses, there are huge swaths of land that can also be developed. I joked recently that Lafayette Square is almost completely full, so there is plenty of space west of there for more expensive housing for those who missed the boat in that famous neighborhood.

But I hope that there is dispensation for the African Americans whose ancestors first moved into the neighborhood over a century ago. Their role in the new community is important, too.

These two houses, with such dramatically different setbacks, representing two different eras of construction, represent to me how this area, sandwiched between the huge buildings of SLU Hospital and the Gate District redevelopment of Compton Hill have left this area both in a state of tension and future possibility. And “No Trespassing?” Why?

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