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Got a Plan for Pruitt-Igoe? St. Louis Preservationists Want to Hear It

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Do you have any idea what to do with these 37 acres?
​Since 1977, when the last remnants of the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project were destroyed, most of the 57-acre site at the corner of Cass and North Jefferson avenues has lain dormant. Some developers, notably Paul McKee of NorthSide Development, have said they have plans for the area, but nobody has done anything, except for the St. Louis Public Schools, which built the Gateway Schools complex.

The remaining 33 acres are turning into a sort of urban forest and, thanks to the recent documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, has become the subject of curiosity for urban explorers. (If you're interested, by the way, the doc is screening Sunday night, July 17, at Off Broadway.)

What to do? This may not be prime real estate, but it is less than two miles from downtown.

A newly-formed nonprofit called Pruitt-Igoe Now has just launched a design competition for plans to develop the area. That doesn't mean any of the plans will actually be implemented, but, as Michael Allen, the architectural historian behind the Preservation Research Office and one of the masterminds of Pruitt-Igoe Now, points out to the Post-Dispatch, this is really about starting a conversation.

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Back in its heyday, Pruitt-Igoe occupied a large portion of the north side cityscape.
​The competition has the blessing of Alderman April Ford-Griffin, who serves on the advisory committee, and former Pruitt-Igoe and current neighborhood residents have been recruited, along with architects and building experts, as judges.

It does not, however, have the blessing of McKee, or the city-run Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, which actually owns the site.

Rodney Crim, president of the St. Louis Development Corp., which includes the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, told the P-D that there are environmental concerns about the area, namely pollutants buried underground. Plus, he said, the city has, for a while, considered the site a good place for an employment center.

Nonetheless, the competition will continue as planned. Proposals are due on March 16, 2012, the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of the destruction of Pruitt-Igoe, and the winners will be announced next summer.

In the meantime, others have announced proposals for the Pruitt-Igoe site, including Juan William Chávez, who has suggested a bee sanctuary.

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3 comments
ConradVonSupertramp
ConradVonSupertramp

I'm in line with SMDrPepper except why not turn it into an urban farm, so that it meats some employment center goals.  Could teach homeless how to build geodesic dome homes from scrap material, teach them how to grow food, raise livestock and improve their lives.  Offer it to non degree holders and others needing career training, food, shelter.  

Egolterman
Egolterman

For preservationists:. Everything is going down now. Everything, and the remaining historic tax credits will be pillaged by the end of next year.Landmarks is failed, MO. Preservation is failed and the tax credits commission sliced and diced their 'presenter'. The National Trust was 'persuaded' to look the other way 20 years ago. It is an miracle (or a lot of work) Kiel Opera House survived. Best thing preservationists can do to help St. Louis is to get its parking garage built. Absoutely essential. And the RFT should tell us who has 'stonewalled' dedicated parking for the Opera House? It' been in every plan since 1998. You used to do these things.

SMDrPepper
SMDrPepper

Heres an idea.  Why don they just let it be green space?

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