4-Families on Lafayette in Botanical Heights West of Thurman

I just wanted to call some attention to the project that is about to get underway in the Botanical Heights Neighborhood per the article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday September 18th, 2010.  Botanical Heights is a neighborhood in South St. Louis that is bordered by Highway 44 on the South, 39th Street on the east, Vandeventer on the west and Chouteau on the North.  It is still in its infancy as a neighborhood entity at this point having been known as “McRee Town” in previous decades.  McRee Town was bulldozed for all intents and purposes in the early 2000’s after urban decay had made many of the structures in the neighborhood uninhabitable.  In the mid 2000’s McBride Home Builders came into

Botanical Heights Home in the 3900 Block of Lafayette

possession of a large swath of land on the east side of the neighborhood and built brand new construction on the original street grid where the neighborhood’s original homes had been demolished.  There were new homes built on large lots (for the city) on every block between 39th Street and Thurman East to West and Folsom to Lafayette North to South.   The homes are large 2 story structures with vinyl siding and brick veneer, not really coming close to anything historic but sold well none the less.  If you have ever noticed brand new homes just north of 44 near the Vandeventer exit this is what you are looking at.  Homes in this part of the neighborhood have sold between $210,000 and $360,000.  Homes sold swiftly early on in the development, which happened to coincide with the height of the housing boom.   Sales slowed in 2007 and 2008 with McBride selling the last few homes at a discount.  I actually sold the last developer owned home on McRee in May of 2008.  This was phase 1 of the Garden District Commission’s Plan for Botanical heights

Having owned some real estate in the neighborhood I was already familiar with the project from neighborhood association meetings and a conversation or two with Tom Pickel, director of the Garden District Commission.   I have been waiting for some time to hear some news on when the 2nd phase of the this neighborhoods redevelopment would begin and it looks like we are getting close.  The 2nd phase of the project will focus on the western side of the neighborhood on the blocks from Thurman to Vandeventer and again Folsom to Lafayette North to South.  The 2nd phase of the project is a little more interesting as well because there are still many historic structures standing on this side of the neighborhood.  There will be a good amount of rehabbing in this phase to go along with a lot of new construction.  They have already begun to put request for proposals out to developers for lots and historic buildings owned by the Garden District Commission.  Part the Garden District Commissions involvement over the past decade has been to purchase or take possession of abandoned or problem properties in the area that were viewed as key for redevelopment of the neighborhood.

Here is a link to blog post showing a house on McRee offered for $1 to a capable developer


New Homes on Lafayette in Botanical Heights in STL

This part of the project will do a lot for making Botanical Heights a neighborhood in full rather than just a pocket of new houses that is somewhat secluded from the rest of the city around it (which it is).  The neighborhood will actually be inhabited all the way to its western boundary at Vandeventer (which its not now).  Botanical Heights is literally one of the most centrally located neighborhood in the city less than a 5 minute drive to highway 40 and right on top of 44.  It is walking distance to Tower Grove Park and less than 5 minutes to both the Central West End and Downtown.  This is a key piece of the puzzle for the city because the location is extremely desirable.  Another more subtle matter of importance is the apparent disconnect between the western (more suburban) part of the city and eastern (more urban) part.  The dividing line seems to be along the Kingshighway/Vandeventer corridor.  In the past areas like Botanical Heights were the reason for this.  Cautious family oriented individuals and yuppy cosmopolitan types didn’t want to be anywhere near areas like McRee Town that were blighted nor the industrial areas around it.  Redeveloping the neighborhood could possibly create a continuity from the eastern part of the city to the Central West End via Botanical Heights and The Grove that we have not seen before.  Also, redeveloping as an upper middle class area may have an effect on the commercial corridor of Vandeventer that has a decidedly industrial feel to it.  Hopefully this corridor can shift to a more commercial/business/restaurant feel rather than solely industrial.   These things can take quite a bit of time but this has the potential for major positive affects on many different areas of the city because of the central location.

Check out the article by Tim Bryant in the Post-Dispatch Below

Botanical Heights Article

Another Great Blog Post about the specifics of the planned development

Dotage St. Louis Post