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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pruitt-Igoe Site the Key to Blairmont's Scheme?

If one studies the map of Blairmont holdings that we posted last month, an interersting picture emerges. Besides other concentrations that I have noted, all of the holdings seem to center on one site: the vacant site of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project.

All of the holdings fan out from that location, a city-owned megaparcel frequently discussed as the nexus of new development on the near northside. Recall that nearly ten years ago the administration of Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr. embraced a plan to build an 18-hole golf course surrounded by suburban-style housing, using the Pruitt-Igoe site and much of the St. Louis Place neighborhood.

Jump forward to 1999-2000, and one may remember the Fifth Ward Land Use Plan created by Schweyte Architects and vigorously opposed by architects and preservationists, including the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Landmarks Association and former St. Louis Place resident Robert Myers. That plan called for the demolition of hundreds of buildings located in the footprint in which Blairmont has been purchasing its holdings. The Pruitt-Igoe site was key to the recommendations of that plan, which seems to be one guide to Blairmont's scope of activities.

Is the Pruitt-Igoe site key to whatever project Blairmont might be concocting? It's hard to say without word from the company's representatives. But it seems that acquisition of that site is essential to any development Blairmont may be planning.


Anonymous said...

Centered on Pruit-Igoe? Looking at your map I don't think that many would agree with that statement. Their holdings are spread far and wide across North St. Louis.

Anonymous said...

Just a point of clarification--the final version of the 5th Ward plan did not advocate the golf course, but did state that much of the vacant land in St. Louis Place be reserved for a large scale development. In terms of the Pruitt Igo site, there have been a number of proposals since 2001 that advocated a variety of uses; I had always heard that it was the presence of major contaminants that made those plans too costly. I am not sure what additional incentives a new proposal would bring to overcome those problems. Having said that, if one were to do a major development on the near north-side, the PI site would be a natural fit.

Anonymous said...

Micheal, you need to add all the City/LRA/LCRA properties to your map to really show how close Blairmont is to completed their "site assembly" plans.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with others that you need to add in the City owned properties, so people can get a good view of how much development potential exists.

Having thought about the area before and looking at the City owned land, it always seemed clear that a good rail connected neighborhood could be created in the St. Louis Place area. So much of the area is vacant when looking at maps, that whole blocks of new homes can be built. The key is finding a developer willing to preserve those structures that do remain.