Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Shaw Neighborhood

The one, the only Shaw neighborhood exists north of Magnolia, south of I-44, east of Tower Grove Avenue and west of Grand.

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With Tower Grove park and the Grand/South Grand businesses district directly to the south and the Missouri Botanical Gardens directly to the west, this neighborhood it tucked amongst some of the regions greatest assets. The views along Grand within Shaw are probably familiar:
The Saum apartmentsThe Hutchinson ApartmentsDidn't this used to be an automotive repair shop?The Compton Gate Condominiums on the former Shoney's property.The neighborhood is centered on the amazing Flora Place wide boulevard. Home of some of St. Louis' most beautiful homes as well as the annual Shaw Art Fair. Shaw is certainly one of my favorite neighborhoods. And one that has continued to show signs of improvement and gentrification without losing it's diversity and great mix of rentals, condos, commercial properties and homes. In fact, it's this mix that I've tried to highlight with my photos. There are hundreds of fantastic homes, too many to document. This is one of the best neighborhoods to walk and take in the architecture. A Sunday morning walk when St. Margaret of Scotland, Mt. Olive Lutheran and the several Baptist churches are holding services and you'll see the true neighborhood community that seems to exist here. Many, many people are walking to/from church. Based on word from friends and acquaintances, St. Margaret of Scotland has one of the best Catholic schools in the city as well. Another great neighborhood resource:Again, the homes are what anchor Shaw, but it's the apartments and condos that I'd like to highlight with my photos. In my uninformed opinion, this is the greatest success story of the last decade for Shaw, the onset of renovations of the 4 family, and larger apartment complexes. Most of the rental properties appear to be in good condition and the occupancy rates indicate the density is high. Check out these beauties:

Here are two projects in particular that make me extremely bullish on the future of Shaw. The Botanical Townhomes and Condos at Lawrence and Shaw:
And the Magnolia Place condos right along Magnolia across from Tower Grove Park:It is the third neighborhood in a row that I've looked at that had a gain in population from 1990 to 2000 (+0.9%). 8,243 St. Louisians call Shaw home. 57% black, 38% white, 2% Hispanic/Latino, 1% Asian. Shaw enjoys an 82% housing unit occupancy rate. There were a total of 3,802 units counted in 2000; 39% owner occupied, 61% rented. This reaffirms my opinion that the multi-family rentals, condos and high rises are key to Shaw's future.
I don't know what happened from 2000-2010, but the census data only counted 6,811 people, a 17% loss with slight racial shifts as well 52% white, 42% black and 2% Hispanic/Latino and 2% Asian.

Although, with it being Christmas time and a light cover of snow I couldn't resist at least snapping a few shots of some of the single family homes. There are many corners with the capacity to have retail/commercial/restaurant space. This too me it the next phase for Shaw. First the homes were saved, now the apartments are being saved. Maybe the influx of urban minded residents and a better small business economy will spur the next wave of development in Shaw. The opportunities are certainly there.

And in some cases, progress is underway.The neighborhood has some other great signs of a rising urban community. There is a dog park, which is well cared for and always seems to be occupied. There is also a pocket park called Juniata Park tucked in the middle of the neighborhood. There is a really unique area just off of Magnolia called Hortus Court with homes facing each other on a closed court.
Years ago some parts of the neighborhood were pretty dicey. I remember the views of DeTony street, just south of I-44 being some of my first impressions of St. Louis. Being a suburban Belleville kid, it seemed like the ghetto, the kind of place I saw in Robocop:)

When I moved to St. Louis and fell in love with the city, my wife and were looking for a home in Shaw in the late 1990's. We had the general feeling that the streets north of Russell were not a wise purchase. I wish I wasn't so conservative, because these streets are becoming as solid as the others in the neighborhood. There is a lot of rehab work going on. And the promising signs of diversity that are essential to any successful neighborhood. This is good news, as this is such a highly visible part of our city from the interstate.
I am a big fan of the green glazed bricks seen throughout the city:
Opportunities still abound:

Why the city does not enforce property owners to board up homes is beyond me. What is up with this? For the most part, there are very few out of place suburban structures, with the exception of a few on Magnolia. Maybe this is due in part to the fact that Shaw is in both a local and national historic district. There is also one stretch of homes that were razed between Thurman and Klemm on DeTony, leaving behind a pretty big open field. Perfect spot for a community garden while the housing market bounces back. I could imagine some nice infill along this stretch.If you'd have told me there would be a wine bar on Shaw 10 year ago, I wouldn't have believed you.
Some other interesting neighborhood establishments are Bicycle Works (which I did a post on back in August) and Sweet Art, home of the most incredible carrot cake cupcakes in the city. This place also has a good, positive vibe. I highly recommend stopping in at 2203 39th Street. Shaw has got to be one of the greatest success stories of gentrification and renewal in the entire city.Cheers to one of St. Louis' premier neighborhoods!


  1. So I take it with such a glowing review, that Shaw is on the shortlist of neighborhoods you would like to move to? What's up with that anyway, I thought you were moving 'hoods?

  2. ^Anonymous: our house was on the market for quite awhile, no offers. We're digging in for awhile and waiting out the market. Yes, Shaw is on our shortlist of neighborhoods to move to. If you haven't noticed, anonymous, the housing market ain't what it used to be, and we bought in 2004, arguably the peak of home prices.

  3. I WISH WISH WISH someone would renovate the commercial building on Grand in pic #2 (the one with the brown and yellow board-up job). That building has always driven me nuts because it would look so great with new windows and a retail tenant.

  4. There are so many areas of opportunity in Shaw, hopefully we'll see development in the next few years. We bought on a house in Shaw last February and enjoy it so far!

  5. ^Abby, do you mean retail/business opportunities or residential rehab?

  6. Hello, just came across your blog. To add to the theme of commercial revival in Shaw...I am the owner of a dance studio just around the corner from Sweet Art...Belly Dance with Nisaa, at 3904 Flad. I just opened the Shaw studio in fall of 2008, though I've been in business since 05. I offer classes in belly dance and other folkloric dance styles of the Middle East. I love the neighborhood and am happy to be a part of its rebirth!

  7. I have a question...Thinking of buying a home in shaw neighborhood. Has anyone recently rehabed a house in the area from top to bottom? It would be tree stories. anyone know if you most of the work yourself the ballpark cost?

  8. Thank you for making this site and showing how much people in Saint Louis has to be proud of! I was really considering leaving the city altogether but have since decided not to leave. Having moved to the Shaw neighborhood a few years ago I have fallen in love with it and I hope to buy a home with in the neighborhood. If not there are most defiantly other areas I would be happy in like Old North Saint Louis..Great site!!


  9. Thank you for your wonderful blog post! I am a travel nurse and am temporarily moving to Shaw neighborhood. Your post helped me get to know it better. Thanks again!

  10. Any info on how its doing now, Are there area in Shaw you would stay away from like the north, east, or west

  11. Wow, thanks. This brings back memories of when I lived on Russell Blvd. from the ages of 2-8. Went to Bryan Mullanphy school for 3 years in the '50s. I remember a wind storm that flattened big trees on elegant Flora Ave just across the alley of where I lived.

  12. Thanks for your post. A bit dated now, but to comment for those posting above, Shaw is really doing tremendously now (September 2014). There is an amazing family-friendly community oriented spirit here. Proximity to so many amazing places as well. There is no part of Shaw I'd "stay away from" though I think that the less renovated areas are primarily along Russell, Castleman and Shaw, particularly on the Eastern and Western sides. Even so there are some great finds in those pockets. It's a really amazing place. A new liquid Nitrogen ice cream place has opened on 39th, there is a great bar and grill, a coffee shop, salons, and rumor has it that some cafes and restaurants are coming to some redevelopment projects in the neighborhood. I think that it is a great place to live. We just moved back to the area, I'm originally from the burbs but have lived downtown and in TG South as well. Shaw is great!

  13. Hubs and I just moved into our house on the 3600 block of Russell after rehabbing it for two years. Shaw is the best! There is so much renovation on homes everywhere. Now the only "iffy" section is on Shaw itself but even that is undergoing a facelift.