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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Photographic Survey of Blairmont Buildings

Wonder what exactly we keep talking about when we bemoan the treatment of historic northside buildings by the "Blairmont" companies?

Now you can see for youself by looking at our photographic survey of their buildings. This project is a work in progress, and will be greatly expanded, but already the survey includes recent photographs of over 50 of their buildings in Old North St. Louis, Columbus Squre, JeffVanderLou and St. Louis Place.

(Photograph above: 2933 Montgomery Street, owned by Sheridan Place LC.)


Anonymous said...

The modesty of the house you depict and the fact that it served as "home" for such a long time makes me wonder: Is it too much to suggest that this effort be branded "socio-economic cleansing" - the deliberate removal of life (particularly low income) for the purpose of constructing a gated monoculture of similiarly well-healed like people?

Anonymous said...

Well, given that Mckee has basically created a white man's fantasyland at Winghaven and that his cronies like Calcaterra are all people who fled the city, I can see this project being a way to "cleanse" it and make it safe for their return.

Anonymous said...

Some of the pictures show how little would be lost. Like the modern commercial buildings in Columbus Square. Or buildings to far gone to save like the Better Donut Drive-In.

Michael R. Allen said...

Part of my documentary approach is showing the existing conditions without forcing conclusions. Rather than cherry picking examples to support any particular conclusion, I choose to show as many buildings as possible to illustrate the range of Blairmont's holdings and conditions.

I think that the photos demonstrate that many of the buildings are excellent candidates for reuse, a small number are candidates for demolition and all of them are in violation of city building codes.

The range of neighborhoods, types of buildings and ages shows the need for a careful preservation plan for these neighborhoods, and as part of whatever development process Blairmont is planning to implement.

Anonymous said...

Some of those buildings were clearly occupied recently.


They really are displacing existing residents.

More than anything else, the displacement should be a major political issue.

Anonymous said...

If there is some secret plan to build a grand new housing development in North City; and, if the developers are trying to make it an all-white enclave, they are going to have a hard time doing so.

When you look east of Jefferson, just about all the new home developments in the city of St. Louis are purchased by middle income black people (places like Soulard and Lafayette Squre notwithstanding). Whites go more for the rehab. Blacks want new-they're sick of old and decrepit.

The interesting part of the Blairmont story is it appears to be mostly white people complaining about Blairmont's activities.

Do they realize they are possibly leading to fewer blacks buying new housing in the city?

Anonymous said...

"Do they realize they are possibly leading to fewer blacks buying new housing in the city?"

On so many levels, what a ridiculous statement.

Anonymous said...

What's ridiculous about it?

Anonymous said...

The trend for most of the new housing on the near northside is that it is bought and occupied by african american residents. This is the case even for the more urbanistically friendly housing produced in old north.

Anonymous said...

So then it's not so ridiculous...

the ridiculous assertion would be the idea that McKee is trying to cleanse the city and build northside housing for whites.

That does sound pretty ridiculous.

I'm sure if McKee is thinking of ever building anything in North St. Louis, the only color he's interested in is GREEN.

Anonymous said...

The cleansing is perhaps less about race and more about incomes; When you remove low income families from an area, generally your ability to make "green" quickly is enhanced - just compare the absorption rates of botannical heights - which forced out all of its low income residents and sold out its first phase in a weekend to Old North's North MArket PLace, in which many low income homeowners recieved low interest, forgiveable home repair loans, and no existing residents were forced out. North MArket PLAce has a much lower absorption rate.

Many of us who call the northside home do so because we wanted the experience of diversity. We wanted to raise children that were capable of empathizing with people different than them. And I think many of us are rightfully concerned that a Winghaven styled development will reeduce the opportunity to have that experience.

Anonymous said...

So what we're really talking about then is gentrification.

Gentrification that made Soulard, South Grand, and Lafayette Square high priced, marketable and desirable areas.

Without gentrfication, the private sector can't make a return to the market.

That is unless you subsidize private investment with public dollars, such as the low interest and forgiveable loans to low income residents mentioned by the last poster.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Winghaven a development of million dollar, grandiose estates?

Are people seriously concerned that McKee is thinking of such a project on the northside?

That's pretty far fetched, wouldn't you say?

Now, a clone of "New Town" in St. Charles, that might be more realistic.

Anonymous said...

a clone of New Town would be far superior to the cartoon that Winghaven is.

Michael R. Allen said...

"The interesting part of the Blairmont story is it appears to be mostly white people complaining about Blairmont's activities."

While it is certainly true that mostly white people are complaining *online*, on the street in the physical world the story is quite different.

Meet up with a tenant evicted from a building Blairmont bought, or the one man whose landlord sold his building to Blairmont but was allowed to still collect rent money several months afterwards as part of the purchase deal, and you'll see diversity of race and concerns. Some people are concerned about urban planning ramifications, some about secrecy, some about losing their homes, and so forth.

Don't mistake Internet chat as representative of the near northside. Given the demographics of the area, Internet access and time to post messages is a luxury that most don't have.

Anonymous said...

Gentrification is coming one way or the other, either with white rehabbers or middle-class blacks buying into the future "NorthHaven."

Those being displaced might complain, but deep down they know that neither the suburbanized nor the rehabbed versions of the future is meant for them.

Anonymous said...

Someone tell McKee that "Whitehaven" is already taken.

Anonymous said...

You may laugh about WhiteHaven, but you'll be sorry that you aren't there sitting on the two-story porch with me, having a sodee pop and taking in the skyline view. Afterwards, I will go over to the ice cream shoppe (not Crown's -- too much character) or to the ol timey general store that stocks $17 light bulbs. I can talk about the "gold old days" and how great they were even though the development I live in destroyed the last vestiges of those days.

Ah, what joy to live in WhiteHaven. And "white" won't be about skin color, but about a blank slate after all of the urban character is removed. And I won't complain -- urban character is too messy for my tastes. It's loud, and colorful, and I just want to be left alone in a little paradise for middle class people like me.

You will regret truning your back on the chance to join me!