Tag Archives: North St. Louis

St. Louis International Film Festival

Bob recommends seeing as many of the following six documentaries being shown this month as a part of the SLIFF (St. Louis International Film Festival) program this fall.

You can download the schedule of documentaries being shown by clicking this text.

• Saturday November 10, 1:15 PM, Plaza Frontenac: BETTING THE FARM

Betting the Farm

Betting the Farm



• Sunday November 11, 4 PM, Tivoli: GETTING UP: THE TEMPT ONE STORY

Getting Up

Getting Up



• Wednesday November 14, 7 PM, Hi-Pointe: ENVISIONING HOME

Envisioning Home

Envisioning Home



• Thursday November 15, 7:15 PM, Tivoli: THE PREP SCHOOL NEGRO

Prep School Negro

Prep School Negro



• Friday November 16, 6:30 PM, Wash U / Brown School: DIGNITY HARBOR

Dignity Harbor

Dignity Harbor



• Saturday November 17, 12 noon, Wash U / Brown School: THE SECOND EXECUTION OF ROMELL BROOM

The Second Execution of Romell Broom

The Second Execution of Romell Broom


Posted in art, city planning, community, economics, education, employment, government, history, narrative, racism, St. Louis, video | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Comments Off on St. Louis International Film Festival

Hill and Ville

NOTE: The following post was created in Fall 2011 during Community Building. Some of the text refers to specific things that occurred in class at that time, however the overall point remains apropos.


Reflecting on the music and discussion we had in yesterday’s class. The drawings the students’ worked on were representations of The Ville and The Hill. It almost seems too cute in the way they rhyme but there’s certainly a logic involved in making the comparison.

One of the things about the two tours that strikes me is that I felt our visit to The Hill tended to preference the built fabric and the vernacular sense of continuity that makes for a very compelling and cohesive neighborhood. The insistent repetition of the overall house forms had an almost numbing effect in some areas despite the individuality of each home not just architecturally, but also in the way each family ornamented and presented their homes to the public.

My suspicion is that it would have been possible to visit The Ville and take a tour with a similar sense of architectural continuity. Our tour tended to favor the larger institutional buildings and organizations over the urban fabric of the residential community. When we did look at homes, they tended to be unique for historical reasons and due to the residents who grew up there rather than for their architectural or urban content.

There’s nothing wrong with this difference between the tours, but it does lead to a varied perception. Clearly much of the difference that was noted related to the general comfort and ease with which we generally felt in visiting The Hill. Part of that has to do with the “branding” of the neighborhood as a source for Italian culture and food that is widely known and appreciated in Saint Louis. Also, the neighborhood itself has made a particular point of reminding visitors (and residents) that they are in the “Italian” section of the city.

Bob’s explanations have made it clear that while Italians were among the original residents of the area, it wasn’t a monolithic culture that dominated the area in the way that I think is suggested by the constant reminders (flags, banners, fire hydrants, etc.). In fact, the branding has so successful as a strategy for attracting restaurants and bakeries, that there seems to be a much higher concentration of such businesses in the area than could be supported by the local economy. The great number and variety (and expense) of many of the restaurants clearly seem to be in business because they attract customers from a relatively wide area.

It seems that this dominance of branding neighborhoods has been so successful in certain respects that it tends to suppress many other features of the community that are beneficial, but not publicly understood to be connected with The Hill. It would be interesting to take photographs of less typical sections of The Hill that might be suggestive of other cultures, practices and locations and to present them to a group and ask them to identify the neighborhood in which they were taken.

I suspect that it would be possible to find buildings and sites and locations just within The Hill that could be suggestive of the industrial riverfront areas, Soulard, Wellston, The Ville, Clayton and West County. In a similar way, I suspect one could take photographs of various locations around the city to could be considered to fit into the image that is commonly accepted for The Hill and have people identify them as having been taken there, when in fact they represent restaurants, homes, churches, parks and businesses in other parts of the city.

So what does this mean? Does it mean that the representations of The Hill that we have ingrained in our minds is false? I don’t think that’s the case, however it does suggest that we’re somewhat brainwashed in the way we understand segments of the city. I wonder to what extent our preconceptions determine our reactions?

Another thought experiment might be to take students on a drive blindfolded and then arrive somewhere without knowing where they are going in advance. Then they would be forced to really “read” the city they find themselves in for clues and information about its condition, history, demographics, prosperity, density, etc.

Our conversation about the drawings was instructive, but also revealed some things about our own ideas and how we project them onto situations. Someone commented that, “Well of course we feel more comfortable going to The Hill, since we all have a European background.” I felt this statement was, at a minimum, insensitive.

My sense is that part of the intentions behind the class has to do with overcoming stereotypes and preconceptions that we have about people and places that cause us to distort reality and block us from really seeing things as they are.


After writing this post, I decided to go ahead with my thought experiment and take still frames from the video I shot during our visits to the Hill and the Ville. Can you identify which are which?

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

#13

#14

#15

#16

Please test yourself and put down whether you think each photograph was taken in The Hill or The Ville.

Posted in community, economics, history, home design, housing, St. Louis, street, Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Comments Off on Hill and Ville

McKee lines up five homebuilders

By Tim Logan      tlogan@post-dispatch.com      314-340-8291

ST. LOUIS  •  In what may be the closest thing to progress yet in his decades-long bid to rebuild much of the city’s near north side, developer Paul McKee said this week that he has reached agreements with five home builders to construct housing for his NorthSide Regeneration project.
 
Paul McKee
Paul J. McKee, Jr., of McEagle Properties, LLC, interviews with St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters near the intersection of Pine St. and N. 23rd St. in downtown St. louis late Tuesday, December 6, 2011. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford elunsford@post-dispatch.com

 

McKee and the quintet of builders have plans for 79 homes – mostly new construction – on a few rebuilt blocks along St. Louis Avenue, just west of North Florissant Avenue, in the city’s St. Louis Place neighborhood. It’s intended to be the first phase of residential construction that will grow as – and if – McKee’s vast vision becomes reality.

The progress is fragile. Previous plans to launch NorthSide – like one to rehab the Clemens House mansion on Cass Avenue – have become false starts. At roughly $200 million, the five blocks of housing would be the largest development McKee has yet announced in the 1,500-acre footprint north of downtown since he started buying land there eight years ago.

But all McKee’s plans hinge on the fate of NorthSide’s $390 million in public subsidies, in the form of a tax increment financing package that will go before the Missouri Supreme Court next month.

McKee selected the builders – Fischer & Frichtel, Rolwes Co., Rubicon-Bruno Homes, X3 Design Build and Gateway Development – in a competitive process earlier this year. They are a mix of companies with experience in new and rehabbed homes in both suburban and city neighborhoods. But they say they are planning on building “urban-style” homes on what are now mostly vacant blocks between 20th Street and North Florissant Avenue – land McKee bought quietly over several years, then combined with a massive purchase of city-owned land earlier this year. Some existing, occupied homes will remain there.

Several of the developers said they were attracted by the chance to be part of starting something new in the battered neighborhood, and by the prospect of a large-scale redevelopment. McKee’s plan ultimately proposes thousands of new homes and vast swaths of new office, industrial and retail space across the area.

“I’ve seen so many plans come and go in the city of St. Louis,” said Jerry Meyer, director of development at Rubicon-Bruno. “This is the first one I’ve seen that addresses education, infrastructure, jobs and housing. We can create another real option for people here.”

“This area needs life,” said X3’s Kevin Logan. “It’s a great opportunity for us to participate in that.”

Pricing is still being worked out, but it’s likely these homes will cost far less than the $400,000 average price estimated in McKee’s 2009 TIF application. Greg Sommerhof, a Wentzville builder who is working on market analysis, says he sees a strong target market in teachers and city police and firefighters. He held focus groups with all three groups, and found a lot of interest in quality new construction in the city.

“Overwhelmingly, people found it attractive,” he said. “Security concerns were holding them back. If we can provide that, we’ll have a great start.”

The developers also have got a lead on financing. St. Louis Community Credit Union has agreed to lend to buyers in the project, said credit union spokesman Michael O’Brien.

McKee-1.jpgMcKee-2.jpgMcKee-McEagle.jpg

“Hopefully the opportunity will come to fruition,” he said. “We’re a locally owned credit union. Our focus is primarily the city. So it’s a natural for us.”

McKee said he could start construction in the spring. But of course, all of this depends on NorthSide’s giant subsidy, which has been in legal limbo since a circuit court judge ruled in July 2010 that it was vague and overbroad.

The TIF would generate about $390 million for streets and new sewers and other infrastructure across the two-square-mile area, money McKee says he needs to get his project done. Upgrading infrastructure for this patch of housing alone would cost $2 million, he said.

McKee has been trying to access that money for two years now, first proposing more specifics to allay Judge Robert Dierker’s concerns, then bringing the case to state Appeals Court, which in June passed it up to the Missouri Supreme Court. Oral arguments there are scheduled for Nov. 28, with a ruling likely several weeks after.

“If that doesn’t go our way,” McKee said, “We’re dead.”

 

[click here for link to original article and photograph]

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