By. Chris Stritzel
Looking at North St. Louis, many people see a crime ridden area that is to far away from being saved. This idea has plagued the region thus making it lose all hope of ever being redeveloped. However, the way I see it, North City has more potential than any region in the entire City of St. Louis. The plan that I will lay out today will look at the most possible way of redeveloping the North Side through partnerships in the public and private sectors as well as the general citizens living in the Northern region of the City. It will be a lot of words and numbers but, when drawn up, it will be very doable and will put Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration to shame in every way.
Lets start with the area surrounding the new NGA in the real estate section.
REAL ESTATE THAT MATTERS
Upon the new NGA going up, the surrounding neighborhoods will really be able to grow and expand as well. Currently, this area of North City has a very large amount of vacant (and very prime) real estate. The real estate here can draw the next big thing, and possibly even spawn the region’s next Central West End. Besides this, the new NGA Complex will anchor the Northside’s Southern End as a Catalyst for future development and an anchor for the future of North St. Louis.
Besides the area around the New NGA, the whole Northside consists of Dense Neighborhoods (North Pointe and Baden) and less Dense areas (St. Louis Place and Carr Square) that all share one thing, unique character. Each one has their own look that cannot be looked at and be ignored. Because of this, real estate in these regions have their own way at life. They come and go, but need to become more stable. When assessing the options for these neighborhoods and their once vibrant, and need to become vibrant, business districts, I see a doable project that will ensure that existing residents get what they want while visitors also get unique experiences that are unique to those neighborhoods.
Confusing wording? Read it again.
What I am hinting at is community engagement. Community engagement can empower former powerhouse neighborhoods become strong and new again and lead to the next trendy neighborhoods where real estate matters and the residents have a chance to start over and become the next business leaders of St. Louis.
Upon residents waking up to the need to join together and realizing that their neighborhood needs change, they will push together as one and begin pushing their neighborhood as the next trendy area to open a business and live. This will then push for the need to do small scale redevelopments of abandoned structures and the demolition of those that are to far gone from being saved. Besides this, residents will further engage themselves in pushing the Northside as St. Louis’ greatest asset and push it as the region’s next big area to develop and grow a business or start a family. But the negativity of crime will take a toll on these efforts unless the community further engages them self in safety.
Workign with the police department, residents will and shall have an opportunity to create a community policing system that works to solve crime faster and get the neighborhoods to be very safe in a shorter amount of time. Any crime found by community policing groups are reported to the main department and members of the community policing department should hold the criminal until cops arrive to handle the problem. In the end, residents will look at the new system and will want to take part in it thus making the area much safer. Besides that, the community will have a stronger support for the police which makes everyone’s life easier and better.
Follwoing this, large scale redevelopments of neighborhoods good begin which leads to the need for a Public-Private Partnership to achieve such a development.
In Order to achieve a North Side that is productive and ready to grow, the community must join together to promote development, as said earlier, but should only accept the best that will, not only increase the living conditions, but also provide opportunities for everyone who lives up there. Those who care about their area will want only the best companies to invest money into their area. Many names that come to mind in redevelopment and development organizations are:
- Benton Home Builders
- McBride and Son Homes
- Cordish Companies
- Sansone Group
- Lawrence Group
- and Koman
All companies listed here, if requested, would probably invest money if they saw the amount of enthusiasm that the residents of North City are showing. The residents will then see a flood of proposals to show off what can be done. Every resident will benefit from this. How? Their property values go up and more job opportunities will rise up for them to all take. This will not only help grow the wealth and make many people wealthy but will also grow the economy to where the population will start to rise on the North Side for the first time in decades.
In order to transport others to visit the area, public transport needs to be a key factor that’s ill further assure developers that North St. Louis is ready for change.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TIES IT TOGETHER
Transportation has to be looked at as a key assets in assuring the public that their hard work will pay off. Transportation must also be safe and quick to get visitors and residents to all parts of the city. And while our current system is not very large, the Northside-Southside line could be the one piece of the puzzle and rebuilding the North Side. The transit line had to be seen as the next piece into promoting development, it must also be seen as a way for everyone to go and experience things that most people would never want to do. So what does this have to do with anything?
- Transit can promote TOD (Transit Oriented Development) thus creating more jobs and revenue
- The Line can promote changing the Northside into a walkable region thus creating a vibrant urban area
- Transit can fix things that have failed in the past, such as failed urban planing but can also fix modern day issues like aging infrastructure.
- The Northside-Southside Line can promote safety along the route as more people will be out and about to see things as well as technology on the the system being able to detect crime.
However, the current Metro Line planned will either run on Florissant Avenue or Jefferson Avenue. Both are major thoroughfares that need some love. But only one will be home to the new Line. Because of this, Metro must also look forward to putting another line on whatever street is not chosen to hold the new line. This line can be BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) or a new light rail line. Either one would further cement the Northside as a very walkable area with new Transit options and greater service.
So Transit is key to fixing the Northside. Now, when you tie Community Engagement with the real estate that is already prime with the new Metro Line, you get even more prime real estate that will sell for high cash. Besides this, abandoned structures will either be restored or demolished to make always for new construction thus reducing crime breeding places. New places leads to more people and greater security. Once Developers realize this, then they get involved and start pushing for developments that will speed up the process and make the entirety of the Northside safer and more vibrant as well as more dense. Furthering this, the new Metro Line will really increase the speed in which these things will get done.
No matter how the lines are designed, they will add a ton of new options to the Northside. Because they will speed up Development, North city will experience a boom in construction unlike anything very seen before. But, as the redevelopment of the North Side continues, the city must put a new ordinance in effect that protects that history of the Northside. The ordinance that can make all the difference must be one that lays out how things are designed and placed.
In order to truly see the change that will come about, we need to see a mix of what was once there and a taste for the future. The city ordinance I wish would get implemented would be as follows, “All new construction on the Northside, when referring to homes, must be designed to mimic what was there. The design must be similar are exactly alike to restore the neighborhoods that we have forgotten or haven’t forgotten. Main Street corridors must have buildings holding a street wall with retail at the base. This will promote businesses and jobs along the major streets. Along the transit lines, the same idea must be put into place, but taller buildings that hold hotels and residential as well as a hotel or two, can be built and are recommended to be built. On larger spaces that are abandoned, Like Pruitt Igoe, must be developed to become a live-work-play community.”
That idea would turn the Northside into an affordable and productive region where everyone who lives there will be proud to live there. While many residents would be worried about higher taxes, the city must rethink this and put a 5-10 year hold on raising taxes for everyone North of Delmar so that they have time to adjust to the new region, save up some more money, and even have he opportunity to make more money. After that 5-10 year period, taxes can go either up or down. For developers, the city must also say that they can only get 100% abatement on taxes for no more than 5 years and for 75%-25%, no more that 10 years, and for 25% and below, no more than 15 years. This would ensure money keeps flowing and keeps the City budget from going under.
So, some key takeaways from here:
1. Residents have large involvement in the redevelopment
2. Abandoned structures are ether restored or demolsihed
3. Community Watch Groups help get Crime down
4. Police-Citizen relations improve
5. Developers are requested to look into investing in the Northside
6. Massive Transit Expansion takes place making the redevelopment faster
7. Crime goes down dramatically as crime centers are redeveloped and repurposed
8. Better security rises in the form of new construction where people will live work and play
9. Taxes are not raised for 5-10 years depending on progress
10. More things happen than Paul McKee’s failed plan
Upon the plan being even considered, everyone who lives in the city will finally be happy to see the North Side thriving again. The North Side will become the city’s newest epicenter for change and prosperity where everyone who visits and lives there sees it differently but talks great about it. North City will surely be the place to live and work in St. Louis if this was ever taken literally.