by Michael R. Allen
As I just wrapped up hour eleven of working on my house today, a thought hit me that I can’t shake.
Old North St. Louis is populated by many people, including an inordinate amount of energetic rehabbers who are sacrificing normal lives, leisure time and money to rescue historic buildings.
The Blairmont syndicate is attracted to buildings in Old North because they know worker bees like us are paving the way for a big pay off for their lazier, more conservative but much wealthier selves.
By not participating in dialogue with us and by continuing to buy historic buildings here and then letting them sit empty as nuisance properties, the owners of the Blairmont companies are inflicting aggression against the residents of my neighborhood. They are using our efforts, and the efforts of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group/Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, to build their vision. At the same time, they are ensuring that no rehabbed house is less than a block away from a vacant building or lot that is untended. That act can keep values down to the point where they can acquire more property here from frustrated property owners.
In some, they inflict doubt. In others, anger. Some people have never heard of them but feel the pressure of a crack house or weedy, rat-infested lot next door. Blairmont’s effect is that of psychological terrorism, whether intentional or not.
Thank goodness that most of my neighbors are strong enough to resist the fear that the Blairmont group is pushing on us. The irony is that most of us would welcome a large development project that improves our neighborhood.