Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Experiment a Success"

KMOX's Kevin Killeen reported this morning that McBride and Sons' experiment to build a "suburban-styled" subdivision in the city is a success.

Homes have sold at a brisk pace, and contracts for an additional twenty homes have been written.

Then Killeen asked the builder if crime has been an issue: "I've noticed a lot of signs for security companies in the front yards".

According the builder, there has not been a single break-in in the development. The developer noted how the new neighbors are cooperating with each other to make the neighborhood a safe place.

Overall, it seemed like a strange news story. For starters, Botanical Heights is not what most people imagine when they picture a "suburban styled" housing development. There are no ranch or single story homes. All the homes have rear garages off of alleys, and the side yard setbacks are much less than most suburban developments. And there are plans for attached townhomes.

Next, it's really not much of an experiment, but rather a successful formula that has been replicated in multiple housing developments all over town. The West End, the Gate District, and the near north side are all places where you can find large, new home developments that have sold well.

And even though there has been none, Killeen decided to make crime a key part of his story. He could have taken many angles when reporting on the success of the project. The fact that he chose to highlight the issue of crime when reporting on the success of a new home development in the city is disappointing.


63103guy said...

I don't quarrel with your point; however, to be fair to Kevin, I think it was a valid question considering the reputation and fact of the neighborhood being so crime laden prior to the recent development

Anonymous said...

Even Clayton and Eureka now have reputations for having blighted areas within their communities. Perhaps, some one should ask them if crime has been a contributing factor to such blight.

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

I do think those houses are fairly suburban. They're pretty far apart and are largely covered in siding. When we toured the interior of the homes, the first floor spaces were fairly nice and relatively urban, but the second floor spaces were a snap back to suburban construction firm reality: low ceilings, carpet, no interesting finishes. I also think that the strange, useless vast green lawn along 39th Street, which at one time was a shopping destination for a large part of St. Louis, is a very, very suburban touch. Not only does the lawn shun a good opportunity for mixed-use development, but it seems to express fear in the Tiffany neighborhood. If this is a truly urban development, why not integrate it into the city's urban fabric?

Also, though television news shows' incessant focus on urban crime generally makes me livid, I have to say, I've really wondered about it in this case, too. They forced hundreds of people out of their homes. They tore down half of a city neighborhood that had been a crime center for decades, and left the other half standing without offering real social support or solutions. There were numerous arsons in the area during the dispute over this, and the arsons continued through demolition and construction. So, I'm definitely wondering if there is crime in the new development, and I think it's a valid question in this case. And asking the builder of the development rather than a resident of the development, a resident of the remaining portion of McRee Town, someone who works in the area, or a police officer.... I think they gave the area more than a fair shake with that!