North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Urban Assets LLC

How to Spot an Urban Assets Property

by Michael R. Allen

How does one identify the holdings of Urban Assets LLC? Of course, the most reliable method is to use the plat maps at the Assessor’s office and then examine deeds at the Recorder of Deeds’ office. Geo St. Louis is a good back-up. Still, when one is far from City Hall or the Internet, there is a fairly reliable way of telling.

Look at the photograph above, showing the north face of the 4200 block of Page Boulevard in the Vandeventer neighborhood (officially “West Page” here.) See the Urban Assets property?

Aha! Here it is: the lovely home at 4255 W. Page Boulevard. Unfortunately, the house was condemned for demolition on June 1 and sits in the 19th Ward, where there is no preservation review.

How about across the street? My guess is that this one is obvious.

Yes, it’s the fine old house at 4230 W. Page. The tell-tale sign of Urban Assets is the use of unpainted OSB boards to cover window and door openings. OSB board is not the most water- or vandal-proof material out there — how about 3/4″ plywood or breathable metal covers used widely in Chicago on vacant buildings — but it’s better than nothing. This is the same style of board-up used by Urban Solutions on McEagle’s properties.

The Land Reutilization Authority mostly uses plywood for board-up and always paints the boards it installs. Urban Assets’ board-up jobs are stark and easy to spot. On one hand, a bright new OSB board is a sign of neglect, but on the other it is a canvas for aspiring artists of every medium. Is there a connection between Urban Assets and the Heidelberg Project?