Northside Regeneration and the Future of North St. Louis

Update: There’s some great news to report on these two houses. For once this is not land speculation but rather the Sisters at Alpha Kappa Alpha rebuilding a founder’s home as part of what will be a museum and community center.

Heading east on St. Louis Avenue just east of Garrison, I spotted a strange sight: a pair of houses that I was sure were going to be demolished (fifth and sixth photos down; like all of their neighbors, which I’ve documented over the last decade) are undergoing a massive renovation. My, how times have changed. I guess that is what happens when hype about a new federal government office building is being built nearby. The land speculation is going wild. I wish them the best–I wish every “lost cause” was getting the royal treatment like these two above.

Meanwhile, more grassroots rehabbing is occurring where one young man is tackling the renovation of this Second Empire beauty, which had been languishing for the entire time I’ve been documenting this section of the St. Louis Place neighborhood, just north of the installation.

Charles S. Brown Residence, 2337 St. Louis Avenue, 1896, Missouri History Museum, N33540

One the other end of the respectability spectrum from that rehab is the sad demise of one of the first, if not the first, houses purchased by Paul McKee at the northwest corner of Blair Avenue and Montgomery Street, hidden behind the Dodier LLC. The mysterious shell companies would become known at first as Blairmont, from the intersection of these two streets that gave one of McKee’s other shell companies.

Old North, however, was already in the midst of homegrown redevelopment and rehabbing, and McKee’s clandestine purchases did not bring rebirth, but rather robbed property from being acquired by serious redevelopers. As you can see, the end result is a pile of rubble. I cannot guarantee the house would have been saved in other hands, but as can be seen, in McKee’s hands it certainly has not.

Across Interstate 70 from the rest of the neighborhood, this house holds on, a survivor of first highway construction that cut off much of Old North from the rest of the city, and then again when its neighbors to the south were demolished sometime before 2015. I met the gentleman who owns this house, and he is a really nice guy, hardworking and takes pride in homeownership. Like just about every property owner in St. Louis, but particularly anyone who owns within a mile of the new federal building being built, he has been getting pestered nonstop by real estate speculators wanting to buy his property. The last thing North St. Louis needs is more vultures speculators; we’ve seen how much damage just one has wrought on the good people of the North Side over the last eighteen years. We don’t need any more.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thank you for documenting all of this. What a travesty! From redlining to Paul McKee. Could we have done anything else wrong!
    Try to save what’s left, eh.

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