North Sarah Project is a Good Role Model

September 15, 2011

Construction on an exciting new development is underway in North St. Louis.  On the east side of North Sarah, between Belle and Cook, what was recently urban prairie is now being transformed by St. Louis based McCormack Baron Salazar Development.

North Sarah Redevelopment

The area in question here was once the Sarah-Finney Business district.  In Ain’t But a Place, Miles Davis reminisces about the area.

Luckily the area is going to have some business activity returned to it.  Unlike almost every new project that I have seen in North St. Louis, this one includes mixed uses: both residential and commercial spaces.

Homes under construction along Finney

The project also makes use of green technologies such as permeable pavement for the sidewalks.

Permeable Pavement

Building setbacks are pretty much non-existent on the buildings to contain commercial space, and quite small on the residential buildings.  Density appears to be relatively high, and parking looks like it will be hidden behind the residences, but also allowed on-street.  Each intersection has eight curb-cuts and well marked crosswalks.  The pedestrian experience has not been overlooked here.

New Commercial Space on North Sarah

Directly across Sarah from the southern half of the development is Turner Park, home to a softball field and playground.  Along the southern edge of development on Belle is an in-tact block of the kind of homes that make St. Louis what it is proud to be.

Belle Avenue

Sarah is a key connector to the north side, and activating this corridor is a great step toward inviting St. Louisans into the north half of their city.  With the success of the Gaslight Square redevelopment to the south and close proximity to everything in the city, I am extremely optimistic about this project.  Even without these advantages, however, the good urban planning involved makes this development a great asset to the city, and will hopefully set a good precedent for future ideas.

For more information about the project and the history of the area, please see the links below:

History of the Sarah Finney Business District

Comet Theater on Finney

NextStl Forum Topic

Construction Details

Flickr Photos


  1. This is indeed an exciting project for St. Louis and I’m so glad it’s going into an area that needs it. It sets a great example for future development, dense, mixed-use, and sustainable. It’s almost like we’re in the 21st century!

  2. I take umbrage to the following: “activating this corridor is a great step toward inviting St. Louisans back into the north half of their city.” There are thousands upon thousands of current north city residents; which residents are you inviting back into “their” city? It sounds dangerously akin to “taking back our city” – i.e., bringing white, middle class residents in and pushing black, lower income residents out.

    • Thank you for pointing out this out. I understand how one could interpret what I said the way that you have, but must clarify that I truly do think that St. Louisans need to be invited back to the northside. Unfortunately, in North St. Louis there is a lot of truth behind the negative perceptions that so many of our region’s residents hold. These negative perceptions are held by both blacks and whites and by the rich, poor and middle class. I honestly don’t think that even those who enjoy living in North St. Louis (although there are many beautiful neighborhoods full of happy people), find urban prairies and decaying buildings “inviting”. By filling in the gaps between attractive and successful neighborhoods, we improve their relationships with the rest of the city. In a city as segregated as St. Louis, inviting people to cross the very real dividing line that is Delmar Blvd, is a difficult task but definitely one worth undertaking.

  3. I appreciate your response. And from what I’ve read, I think this is a top notch development.

  4. […] Sarah Redevelopment celebrated its grand opening on October 16th.  This is a project that I have written about in the past, and the type of development that we definitely need more of in the City of St. […]

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