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Shipping Container Kitchen Among Ideas for City’s Vacant Lots

Megan Lynch @MLynchOnAir
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It might not take millions upon millions of dollars to make St. Louis city’s 20,000 vacant lots useful again.

Several months ago, KMOX News told you about the Sustainable Land Lab competition – teams vying for a chance to put weed-filled lots to better uses.

Phil Valko, Director of Sustainability at Washington University says eight teams have made the final cut out of a total of 48 initial submissions.

“One group has proposed a pop-up restaurant using old shipping containers. An emerging chef would have the opportunity to try out their ideas but not have to invest in building out a full restaurant space. So basically a mini-incubator in a shipping container.”

Valko says several proposals center on plantings. “One of the teams has proposed to plant an entire lot with sunflowers. The focus of that project is actually on soil remediation. So it’s a nice combination of cleaning up the soil using sunflowers but also beautifying the community.” Another team wants to create a bike hub, to support cycling in the city.

All of them are within a $5,000 budget. “We need to find affordable and creative ways that we can reuse the land. It’s been wonderful for us to see how the teams have worked within that constraint.”

The finalists have until March 25, to submit their final site plan and demonstrate how they plan to implement and maintain their projects.

Four winners will be chosen in April and will be asked to sign a two-year lease to implement their plan. The lots are located near Crown Candy Kitchen.

Of course, Valko and the other competition partners – the city of St. Louis and the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group – hope these creative ideas are just the beginning. “Our hope is that through this competition we really are building a dialogue to think differently about vacant land. Hopefully seeding a bunch of future projects to take existing vacant land and turn it into these interesting productive, creative, sustainable uses.”

You can view the proposals at the Restoration Group’s gallery space at 2700 N. 14th Street, or online at http://sustainablecities.wustl.edu/

Previous story:

Competition May Bring New Lease for City’s Vacant Lots

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