Carr Square North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Pruitt Igoe

Redeveloping the Pruitt-Igoe Site

by Michael R. Allen

The Mayor’s office is talking with a pharmaceutical company about building a plant on the site of the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects.

First question: How many full-time jobs with benefits would the plant create? The article states that the plant might create up to 850 jobs, but we all know how big companies use part-time waged labor positions to keep profits high and workers from having a decent life. If these would be 850 honest-to-goodness real jobs, that would be great for the north side.

Second question: Can we please build the plant in a way that allows the street grid to be re-established and allows for other uses along Jefferson and Cass? I would prefer mixed use of the site, but I don’t necessarily think that it has to include residential components — there is ample space for that all over the near north side. Using the Pruitt-Igoe site for retail, office tenants and manufacturing would be a great for the near north side. But the site should not remain an inaccessible super-block — that’s kind of the historical problem with the site. It should be dense, urban and connected no matter what use is found. A factory may need a larger space, but it could still be build up rather than out and leave space for other new construction on the site.

Abandonment Carr Square North St. Louis Schools

Carr School

by Michael R. Allen

Located on Carr Street between 14th and 15th streets, the Carr School has stood as a forlorn reminder that the downtown renovation boom has left many buildings behind. The Carr School, an elementary school designed in 1908 by the celebrated school district architect William B. Ittner, was abandoned by the St. Louis Public Schools in 1983. Sitting on a block of mostly vacant lots surrounded by the Carr Square Village low-rise public housing project, the school seems precariously posed between death and life; the mostly-occupied apartments are in reasonable shape and of a mediocre (as opposed to awful) design, but the missing buildings on the block and others along 14th Street point to a different future altogether. The Carr Square Tenants’ Association owns the building and has struggled for two decades to renovate the building for elderly housing with no success. Consequently, the building has slid toward dereliction — even a short glance at the roof is saddening — and has been listed on the Landmarks’ Association’s Most Endangered Buildings List for many years running. The interior is in particularly bad shape, with plaster falling from most walls and many floors less than intact. Nevertheless, the brick walls and their ornamental tile work are in very good shape and retain their beauty.

Recall a time when such craftsmanship was common in elementary school design, and then attempt to imagine one of today’s new school buildings surviving 21 years of abandonment this gracefully. The difference in quality is staggering.

See more photos at Built St. Louis.