The housing market has seen a downturn no doubt. But people still need a roof over their heads. We still have and need a diverse set of housing stock to meet the ups and downs of a housing market that can appeal to both prospective owners and renters and lessees. Rentals, townhouses, single family homes...all coexisting to create a whole neighborhood.
There are many, many re-habbers making great progress in this city. I've seen them as far north as Riverview and as far south as the Patch. People that care and want to see properties brought back to life while making a living seems like the perfect match. Grassroots efforts are WAY more impactful for the long term health of our neighborhoods and our city as a whole than the huge entertainment projects like Ballpark "Village" (no residential?), Bottle District, etc. that get so much attention around town.
I drive down many dilapidated streets and see a property being rehabbed and I laud the efforts of these folks, but I can't help but feel like their efforts are overwhelmed by the staggering amount of negativity and neglect that surrounds their noble efforts in some parts of the city. On the other hand, I've seen some homes being renovated on streets in Tower Grove South, Shaw, Lafayette Square or Soulard that are the last shell or rehab available on the block...the icing on the cake so to speak. Both are important, and there's so much left to be done.
So why not call all re-habbing hands on deck to work together in a concerted fashion to work toward transforming and marketing streets, blocks, neighborhoods to new residents. The sweeping power of an effort of this scale would be overwhelming. Money would more easily be made if folks worked together to reclaim an entire street. Resources could be pooled.
An entire neighborhood, take Fox Park for example, which is working toward extending its historic status south of Shenandoah to cover the entire neighborhood could be a perfect case study for this type of effort. Start on Ann Street and work south to the end of the neighborhood. Market the neighborhood to renters, owners and lessees. Work toward drawing small business, the local and national press and everyone else to take notice of the concerted efforts to take a single neighborhood on the fringe and elevate it to a regional showplace.
I have always said that bringing a vacant property back to life is the single greatest thing one can do for the betterment of St. Louis. Taking a 4 family down to a 2 family townhouse or a 2 family to a single family dwelling is what we need. We have a city built for 1 million when we only have ~350,000 residents. We should prepare for a solid 500,000.
Hey I can dream can't I?
Yours truly is getting ready to toss our hat in the ring....more on those adventures in 2011.