St. Louis seeks to demolish dangerous buildings for redevelopment

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A demolition project in north St. Louis will take down 26 dangerous, vacant and condemned buildings.  Many of the properties are already owned by the city after the previous property owners stopped paying taxes.

“We want to reduce crime and we want to improve the quality of life for the people and families that live here,” said Mayor Francis Slay.

He stood outside one of the condemned properties on Evans along with other city leaders.

“We’ve been praying for this,” said north St. Louis resident Mildred Patterson.

An abandoned property next to her well-kept home is one of the properties coming down.

“There are times when I’m afraid to walk by it,” said Patterson.

The demolition zone is near Ranken Technical College.  The condemned properties are in an area enclosed by Whittier to the east, Newstead to the west, Finney to the south and Cozens to the north.

City leaders say Ranken has already purchased more than 200 properties and tapped its carpentry students to build 56 new homes.

State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, (D) St. Louis represents the district.  She says the abandoned buildings are a magnet for crime.

“Vacant and abandoned buildings are the breeding ground for drug dealing, gang activity, prostitution, and illegal dumping,” said Nasheed during Monday’s news conference.

The city will spend $275,000 knocking down the buildings.  The mayor also used Monday’s news conference as an opportunity to push for a $15 million dollar bond issue on the November ballot.  He says if approved, the money would be used for more targeted demolitions.

Mayor Slay said this demolition is different from some previous projects.

Some previous demolitions did not conduct a market analysis to determine whether rebuilding was a worthwhile effort.

“We’ve done some ribbon cuttings on some homes and within a few years those home were vacant again,” said Slay.

In this case, the city conducted a market analysis and determined re-investing is a worthwhile venture. Slay points to the project’s proximity to the North Sarah redevelopment and Ranken Technical College.  He also believes the startup hub known as Cortex will be a positive factor for area development.

The demolition work will take several months.   The city has been at odds with preservationists wanting to restore older, brick homes synonymous with St. Louis.  In this case, none of the homes has an historical designation.

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