top50stl economic development idea of the week: a ‘new’ Old Town Saint Louis

If you’ve ever driven around St. Louis, I’m sure you’ve noticed scores of beautiful buildings that have been built over the years, many of which date back to earlier days when Saint Louis was a world-class city. There is world-class architecture scattered throughout our town but unfortunately, many areas have been in decline for a long time. When I first started working fresh out of college, earning an income I could support myself with, I started looking for a home to buy. As I was searching on the internet, I found this beautiful Victorian building located in the city that was listed for sale well under $100,000. I told my Dad I was interested in making an offer on the property. He told me to get in the car so we could go take a little trip to look at it together.

My father grew up in the city so he knew exactly where the home was located. I don’t remember the exact street it was on, but I do remember driving several blocks north of Delmar Ave near University City. For those who may not know, Delmar essentially serves as a Mason-Dixon line in that part of the city and quite literally divides blacks and whites. Now, I’m not saying that to be provocative, that’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, my Dad challenged the fact that it might not be the right fit for me. It was also surrounded by several other properties that were boarded up and possibly abandoned. I learned my lesson and I looked elsewhere for my first home.

I still love the architecture of so many buildings in St. Louis and there is an abundant supply of buildings that carry a cheaper price because the neighborhood isn’t the best. I’ve always wondered what it would be like if the homes were relocated somewhere else. So, my idea is to find low cost, architecturally pleasing properties in Saint Louis and work with a building mover to relocate the buildings to a new site where they could be revitalized and repurposed in a new location with a new lease on life. It could be a ‘new’ Old Town Saint Louis.

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