New Strategy to Combat Blight in STL: Stop Demolishing, Start Rehabbing

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A St. Louis alderwoman is trying something different to address the city’s vacant and blighted housing problem.

The 20th Ward’s Cara Spencer wants money typically set aside to demolish derelict buildings to, instead, go toward rehabbing them.

The first project was a single family home on California just north of Chippewa in Dutchtown.

The city spent a little less than $14,000 to tuckpoint and stabalize the single family home — it would have cost around $10,000 to bring it down.

Building Commissioner Frank Oswald says this is an important first step.

“We want to get involved in buildings before they get to the point where the only thing left is actually removing and demolishing those buildings, and like Cara says, injuring our neighborhood, taking away some of the integrity of the neighborhood,” Oswald says.

Spencer says some buildings can’t be saved — but it’s worth an extra couple thousand dollars to maintain the city’s original architecture and neighborhood density.

“That is some of the most valuable part of St. Louis, and we don’t want to lose any more historic structures than we have to,” she says.

The home is available for purchase through the city’s Land Reutilization Authority — slumlords, Spencer says, needn’t apply.

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