Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Art and Science of Demolition

With gentrification the topic of tonight's City Affair, here are some random things to consider...

St. Louis city population has dropped from 800,000 + persons to 350,000.

Our region has a stable population, with a 50 year history of people moving to the suburbs. The result is a lessening demand for our older housing stock, creating an inventory of vacant and abandoned buildings in the urban core.

In Clayton we see tear downs to build luxury homes in place of smaller historic housing. This translates to $500,000 historic tear downs for $1,000,000+ luxury townhomes. It's the free market at work.

In St. Ann Missouri, Northwest Plaza is a candidate for National Register listing - and a possible demolition candidate. What do the people of St. Ann want in its place?

Public safety concerns - most neighbors don't like having abandoned homes on their block.

Lack of investment - a man was killed last year while sitting on the front porch of the derelict building where he lived when the front wall of the building collapsed on top of him. Now the site is a vacant lot.

LRA inventory high cost maintenance - little to no demand, often leading to more demolition.

Gentrification requires reinvestment. St. Louis requires reinvestment.

Without more gentrification do we have more demolition? Maybe we're not gentrifying fast enough.

See you tonight at City Affair.


Alex Ihnen said...

Nice post. What we CAN be sure of is that "gentrification" in St. Louis is different that what most people fear. A lot of our conceptions are based on examples of clear-cutting in NYC, San Francisco or other cities where the demand for urban living far exceeds the supply.

Mark Groth said...

True, and as the discussion proved, race is usually more of an issue than economics.