The Rebirth of McRee Town

I’m interrupting my tour of Kansas City architecture because I was so excited to see the recent developments in McRee Town, which for a long was one of the most troubled neighborhoodsin the city.

Combining sensitive in-fill with the conversion of four-family flats into two houses and the renovation of other notable single family houses, the Botanical Groveredevelopment is doing everything right that has so often been done wrong in St. Louis.

For starters, pre-existing homeowners were not run out of their homes with eminent domain arranged with corrupt officials in smoky backrooms.

Secondly, the remaining housing stock was renovated into viable real estate, and priced at market rates.

Finally, the in-fill housing is very cool; it doesn’t try to pretend it was built in the Nineteenth century, is unashamedly modern, but the massing and materials match the neighborhood and city.

If the first phase on McRee Avenue is successful, it will spread to other streets, and hopefully the rest of the city.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. samizdat says:

    Yup. Absolutely agree. THIS is how it should–and can–be done. I liked the comment about corrupt officials in smoky back rooms; too true. Though one could also add–with some accuracy–that luncheons at the Botanical Garden and coffee and cake in living rooms across the highway are also responsible for the wholesale clearing of the eastern blocks for new housing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    where did the people who used to live there move to? are they better off now? no doubt this is a better place to live than before, and anything that makes older city neighborhoods a better place to live has its merits. but does this solve the problems that used to exist here or just move them somewhere else?

  3. Chris says:

    The people who used to live there moved all over the region, I would assume. To answer your question, does it solve the problem that used to exist here or just move it somewhere else? The answer of course is that the problem moves somewhere else, but at the same time, these developments break up concentrated poverty, which is the number one reason people remain in poverty. The development described above includes rentals as well.

  4. Anonymous says:

    thanks for responding. this assumes though that the people who lived here didn't move to similarly poor neighborhoods, which is likely since that's where they'd find housing they can afford. in fact it wouldn't surprise me if many moved to the north side. wouldn't that actually *increase* poverty concentration?i just get the feeling that mcree town, given its location, ended up being in the wrong place in relation to the city's overall pattern of poverty, which made it an easier target for being removed. and samizdat's comment kinda reinforces that feeling in my mind.

  5. anonymous says:

    Perhaps you should revisit your hatred for the gate district…it looks all too familiar.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      The difference between the Gate District and McReeTown is scale and proportion. In McReeTown, the street wall is preserved, and the new houses fit in with their older neighbors. In the Gate District, you have new buildings of a totally different scale, set in suburban setbacks, with the result being that you have older houses sticking out 20-40 feet in front of their new neighbors. The difference between the two is that McReeTown understands an urban environment, the Gate District imposes its own environment on what was once an urban environment.

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