The North Sarah Redevelopment has continued to grow, and its most recent phase appears to be nearing completion. The project was an early topic for this blog, and has now inspired a follow-up.
To provide a bit of background: McCormack Barron Salazar broke ground on phase 1 of the North Sarah Redevelopment Project in 2011 centered around Sarah and CD Banks. They completed phase 2 on Vandeventer in 2013. The current phase included a re-working of Turner Park, and extends new construction west to Whittier.
The new Turner Park is attractive, and retains two structures from the previously existing park. A new landscaped walking path with benches and gardens wraps the park that was previously dominated by a softball field. Gone is the chain link fence that once lined its perimeter, and the addition of a playground appears to be quite popular.
Unfortunately, three historic homes have been demolished as part of this phase, in addition to the few that were previous casualties of the project. The most recent set were documented by VanishingSTL back in July of 2014. Since the development includes dwellings for as few as four families, working around existing building stock should have been a great problem.
A stroll through more in-tact nearby blocks of the neighborhood presents an argument for preservation. The home pictured below is directly across the street from the three residences referenced by vanishingstl in the link above.
A few blocks to the west (and just a block east of Ranken Tech) is a great collection of commercial/industrial buildings that are awaiting a new use. Enright Avenue immediately to the south has few “missing teeth” (at least west of Sarah), and showcases the very best of St. Louis residential architecture. Buildings along this corridor are in various states of repair, but the success of North Sarah along with a steady stream of infill/rehabs on Delmar and to the immediate south elicits optimism.
North Sarah feels nice to visit. At least one of the live/work spaces includes a useful and interesting retail store. Turner Park looks great. Hundreds of new residents have moved in within the last five or so years. The North City Food Hub is set to open this summer in the never-really-occupied anchor retail space at Sarah and CD Banks.
This project has done a lot of good things, and in terms of form and materials it sets a great example for urban development in “less-desirable” (i.e., North of Delmar) portions of the city. The problem is that it’s repetitive in a way that’s visually boring. It’s a poor match for the smaller scale, incremental development that makes up much of the surrounding area. It’s too big because it has to be in our “economy of scale” age.
I don’t have the answers here, but we must find a way to attract investment from a variety of developers that can tackle one to five lots rather than 50 to 500. The North Sarah project has done a good job in its three phases, but whatever phase 4 is it needs to try something different. It’s the little things that make a neighborhood great.
Slyvester Brown’s STL American Column on the North City Food Hub: http://www.stlamerican.com/business/business_opinion/a-new-model-for-developing-north-st-louis/article_519f6618-a6ca-11e6-ae49-334af5ff88f0.html