Optimizing the Utility of Vacant Buildings in NorthSide St. Louis with Focus on Maximizing Connectivity between Different Aspects of the Community
NorthSide St. Louis is the most impoverished area in the entire metropolis – lowest income rates, highest poverty levels, and the most segregation. The poor infrastructure and rows of vacant establishments separate NorthSide residents from schools, offices, and each other. The NorthSide Regeneration Project (NSR) is a redevelopment initiative that aims to improve NorthSide in numerous ways; one of which strives to connect all its residents with the necessary aspects of a community. My project aids the NSR by creating a modifiable process, which yields a map of the neighborhood without any vacant parcels. The process allocates optimal uses for each vacant building with the intent of maximizing the connectivity between all elements of an economically and socially thriving society.
NorthSide St. Louis
Today, the historic NorthSide neighborhood is a desolate and deserted territory in a crucial area of St. Louis. The area deteriorated significantly faster than the rest of St. Louis. NorthSide’s sharp reduction in residents leaves the historic area depleted with vacant buildings and poor infrastructure. The current 14,000 citizens are plagued with lack of education, work, healthy lifestyles, and sense of community. The high poverty rates, staggering unemployment numbers, and low incomes are results of individuals never given an opportunity to educate themselves or find a professional career. NorthSide St. Louis is beleaguered with statistics significantly worse than its city, county, and state. The low incomes and high poverty rates suggest the population heavily relies on public modes of transportation; only 29% of the 4,000 employed individuals own a personal vehicle (Schmidt, NorthSide: Jobs & Income 2013).
NorthSide St. Louis Regeneration Project
Hoping to revitalize the community, Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration Project strives to create a diverse and integrated community that once existed nearly a century ago. NSR aims to effectively utilize $390 million of Tax Increment Financing to redevelop the Fifth Ward of St. Louis. McKee and his team attempt to tackle NorthSide’s most prominent problem through creating a community that upholds all of the aspects of LifeWorks, Paul McKee’s philosophy that stresses the importance of integrating live, learn, work, play, and pray of everyday life.
The NSR is a revitalization project unlike any previous attempt. Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, describes NSR as “the most creative […] urban project and [he believes] it is the correct ingredient for rebuilding the urban core of USA” (McKee 2014). Lead by Paul McKee and his firm, McEagle Properties, the regeneration project strives to enliven the neighborhood through the LifeWorks philosophy. After working with a group of urban designers and analyzing the Fifth Ward Project Goals set in 2000, McKee conceptualized LifeWorks. “Life works by investing, creating, and sustaining a connected and diverse community” (2014). The community can only thrive if its five major components are well integrated: live, learn, work, play, and pray.