Renewing Urban Renewal

An impoverished St. Louis neighborhood near the Missouri Botanical Gardens faces demolition, when rehabilitation might be the answer, in this case study.

McRee Town in St. Louis has been decaying for years, recently becoming a center for crack dealing. The neighborhood’s problems have infringed on the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ front yard, prompting the local Garden District Commission to attempt to beautify the neighborhood after demolition. The plan “aims to transform McRee Town from an urban hellhole to an inner-city oasis for middle-class and upper-middle-class professionals.” But local residents are wondering why the Gardens and the Commission, which promote recycling to preserve the environment, won’t try the same approach with McRee, especially with the city's affordable housing crunch. In 1987, the neighborhood joined the National Register of Historic Places, and a local architect “estimates that 50 to 75 percent of the buildings in the demolition zone are suitable for rehabilitation.” Should the neighborhood survive, and in what form?

Thanks to David Gest

Full Story: The Greening of McRee Town

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