Depletion, West Florissant and Prairie

by Michael R. Allen

It’s a good thing that we have the myth of a “Team Four Plan,” because that allows us to ignore the convergence of neglectful property owners, ineffective aldermen, minimal city planning oversight and new-development-obsessed community development corporations that are more responsible for the depletion of north St. Louis than consultants who prepared a memorandum nearly forty years ago. A close read of that document does not yield the phrase “College Hill” even once, so the blame for that neighborhood’s despair lies elsewhere.

The blame for the impending demolition of the privately-owned one-part commercial block at 3773-3783 West Florissant Avenue, at the intersection of Prairie Avenue, can at least partially be laid upon recent rains that besieged a weak parapet wall that has now fallen into the building. Yet the rains are not why the building has been listed as a vacant building since 1990, and when the waters pour upon a vacant lot for the next few decades we will have to trace the demise of commercial life at the intersection further back than 2012.

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  • Anonymous

    Yeah it is too bad, it comes from a time when the city was real. I grew up on Prairie in the earlier, (very early) fifties in my grandfathers house near Beaumont High School, just North of Fairgrounds Park. And then Roosevelt Place at Goodfellow with a pharmacy on one corner, a bar with a cork ball cage at the other and a confectionery at the other end of the block. It was my world along with St. Edwards grade school.
     The total neglect of the city is not a given, as you allude to it requires the cooperation of political and civic leadership, or more  importantly it is the lack of leadership to allow such losses to occur. Paul McKee’s public financed intrusion will only make matters worse, copying suburban land lot sizes over the walking friendly and traditional narrow lots.
    Anyway I agree with you, it is a total disgrace what is going on to allow this deterioration to occur. Clearly the people running things are not the ones to act. How do you explain the continual decline of the city by anything other than incompetence? The wrong people are in power, they prove it every day.

  • Master Yoda

    Did Saint Louis ever get any federal funding as Detroit did and launched their Project 14 and Neighborhood Stabilization Program?

  • http://www.preservationresearch.com Michael R. Allen

     Aside from CDBG funds, no.

  • http://www.preservationresearch.com Michael R. Allen

    Indeed. The difference between what is happening in the Third Ward and what is happening in the adjacent Twenty-First Ward illustrates that the quality of political leadership is crucial to neighborhood futures. The decline of College Hill was never unavoidable or part of any secret plan — it comes from a failure of leadership.