Botanical Heights Development (McRee Town)

Discuss renovations and new residential construction in South City -- defined by the area south of Interstate 44/55.
Still angry about this fiasco.



Man, a lot of those houses could have been rehabbed, I have read around 50 percent. The rest could be torn down and built in a more urban style. Have you seen the replacement housing stock. Let me post some images of this horrible houses...




ONLY 2 HOMESITES REMAIN! 20 out of the 22 homesitesNot since the great fire of 1849 has there been such a push for the rebuilding and resurrection of the City of St. Louis. Nearly 100 years later, McBride and Son Homes built their first home. Fifty-seven years later McBride and Son Homes is committed to assisting in the revitalization and rebirth of our city. McBride and Son Homes is dedicated to maintaining the distinct neighborhoods and exciting urban lifestyle all while offering new housing in a variety of price ranges.





Wow, not since the great fire, you mean the great DEMOLITION! Yeah, you really maintain the distinct flair of the neighborhood, you destroy a neighborhood, and create a new one with these horrible suburban styles.





Rehab the ones you can, and put better houses! Do not destroy everything and replace with these horrible style homes.





You can view the images of the McBride and Sons houses at

http://www.mcbridehomes.com/community.asp?cid=74



The images of the McRee Town homes can be viewed at

http://www.eco-absence.org/stl/mcree/

Talking with McBride, it appears the 4500 block of Folsom might still escape their original full-site-control plans. Apparently, this half block may be judged to have more historic merit than the others, though all blocks now cleared were actually in a historic district.

This is going to turn into a hudge pissing contest fast.

Yeah, I was not aware the area was an historic district. Are there codes preventing the complete demolition of historic areas?

I thought they where supposed to preserve most of the area west of Thurman ave.

I for one, don't think thiese homes are half bad. No front facing garages, urbanized designs. Lets face facts people, the material used to build homes 100 years ago is too cost prohibative today. Not to mention the amount of labor needed for artistic brick designs. I'd love to see a development like this going up in North City (north of Natural Bridge).
I don't want to see any more homes like this built in the city. They are too far apart and the designs are a suburban clich?. They didn't even try to hide that they only have brick fronts. We can't replicate the homes of the past, and we don't have the materials. We do have materials available to us that people in the past didn't, and we are masters of those in our own right. We should use the materials that are available to us to create contemporary homes that reflect our times, and not try to build in the "style" of a previous time. The sad thing is, these homes are trying to look like older "colonial" homes and they fail miserably. We can build affordable homes in a contemporary style, but if we keep building what we are currently building, St. Louis will be no different than any other exurb in the nation.

Well man, if they wanna do some modern styles, fine, but not these suburban styles. If they cannot emulate older styles, then fine, move on to something modern and unique, not these suburban styles.

Old materials and labor are cost prohibitive because of government regulation, taxes, and mainly union labor laws. There is a brick-layers union that drives the price of brick construction up. Break this union and we may finally have decent construction become the norm rather than the exception in the city.

Design issues aside, is the development successful? Are the houses selling? Is the neighborhood showing signs of investment, or does is it kind of hodge podge?

^My understanding is that the houses in the first phase sold out very quickly. Personally, I think its a fine-looking development. The only thing that looks "suburban" to me is the lack of trees, but give it a few years. As others have posted elsewhere, when a community gets settled in, and people start personalizing their homes, it really looks (and feels) much differant than it does in the beginning. Give it some time.
laboubet wrote:
I don't want to see any more homes like this built in the city. They are too far apart and the designs are a suburban clich?. They didn't even try to hide that they only have brick fronts. We can't replicate the homes of the past, and we don't have the materials. We do have materials available to us that people in the past didn't, and we are masters of those in our own right. We should use the materials that are available to us to create contemporary homes that reflect our times, and not try to build in the "style" of a previous time. The sad thing is, these homes are trying to look like older "colonial" homes and they fail miserably. We can build affordable homes in a contemporary style, but if we keep building what we are currently building, St. Louis will be no different than any other exurb in the nation.




I heart you laboubet! As a Modernist I feel this way about all design. As a culture we are looking to the past for inspiration rather than the future (the new Mustang, or the resurgence in "retro" tennis shoes, retro toasters, retro everything). It holds us back as a society. We won't know what our generation will be capable of until we let go of the past and that's difficult to do when everything around us is a reminder of the past and how great it all was in hindsight.



Back on point a little more, one thing I think they should have done is built retail along 44 facing the highway. Nobody wants to live facing a major interstate. Those houses will look bad real soon. You can bank on that. And when the most visible houses in the neighborhood start to fall apart it can have a domino affect.



I think they also could have built in a row house style and had a brick front and not worry about the vinyl sides of the buildings. I think someone in this forum posted these pictures before, but this development in Cleveland would have been possible in Botanical Heights/McRee Town

Image

The one thing that was working against McRee Town was that there were a lot of rental buildings in that neighborhood. It's much more difficult to bring that kind of neighborhood back than one of single family homes or even the easily converted St. Louis 2 family flat. There were hundreds of 1 bedroom, shotgun style apartments. It was unfortunate for the neighborhood.

The Cleveland townhomes are nice and would better suit an urban location. Commercial opposite I-64? I'm not sure anything looks decent or good opposite a highway since sprawling chain stores, hotels, gas stations set in parking lots are the norm.

Phase Two has completely sold out at higher prices than Phase One before any construction has begun.

Well man, if they wanna do some modern styles, fine, but not these suburban styles. If they cannot emulate older styles, then fine, move on to something modern and unique, not these suburban styles.




My question when I see comments like this is "What do you mean by modern and unique?" These hybrid styles are pretty modern. They might not be unique, but they are modern. The only style I can think of as both modern and unique are the uber-modern works of men like Frank Lloyd Wright. As interesting as those styles might be, they certainly don't fit the neighborhood. What style did you have in mind?

I don't really mind the new homes at Botanical Heights. I used to work on south Vandeventer and am very familiar with McRee town. I very much would have liked to see the entire area redeveloped. However those of you who are not familiar with the area need to know that it was one plagued by many many problems. It was very drug and gang infested; and besides that it was very much run by absentee landlords. Also I would estimate that the area was 80%-90% rental property, not that I have a problem with renters but with most of the buildings being vacant getting new money in the area would seem very difficult. The point to my rambling is that sometimes it seems that the only method for revitalization is a total clearing of the area. I believe that if not for imminent domain a large developer would have never commited to such a large project. I hate to see the beautiful (and all brick) buildings being destroyed, but in my opinion it was the only option. If anything we shoud all be pleased with the success of this develpment.



Rich by lindenwood park

Conurbation wrote:
Well man, if they wanna do some modern styles, fine, but not these suburban styles. If they cannot emulate older styles, then fine, move on to something modern and unique, not these suburban styles.




My question when I see comments like this is "What do you mean by modern and unique?" These hybrid styles are pretty modern. They might not be unique, but they are modern. The only style I can think of as both modern and unique are the uber-modern works of men like Frank Lloyd Wright. As interesting as those styles might be, they certainly don't fit the neighborhood. What style did you have in mind?




The residences are modern, but they are not Modern. They are contemporary and post-Modern. They follow current trends. However, they lack any style whatsoever and that's where I have a problem with them. They are retrogressive.



"As interesting as those styles might be, they certainly don't fit the neighborhood."

Since the entire neighborhood was razed and renamed then why not build something different that doesn't fit in but instead stretches the definition of what a city neighborhood can be for the 21st century. As in the discussion about the Arch. If you are going to tear down something historic you better make it worth my while. Don't tear down brick, sell the brick out of State, and put up some vinyl crap with identical Big Box fixtures. I don't really care if they've all sold. People will buy what they are comfortable with, and that's not always good. We won't move forward as a society with that kind of mentality. The city of St. Louis won't get out of a rut without a shock to the system. Let's see something radical not routine.



W.W.E.S.B.? What would Eero Saarinen build?

Well said, stellar, and can't be said often enough or loud enough...wish developers or someone at city hall would open their ears (and eyes) already.

Good post Stellar.

I don't think these houses are suburban at all, they're not ranches. Are we only allowed to build apartments and row houses east of Skinker?



stellar wrote:

Don't tear down brick, sell the brick out of State, and put up some vinyl crap with identical Big Box fixtures. I don't really care if they've all sold. People will buy what they are comfortable with, and that's not always good.




Stellar, I hear what you're saying about a more modern style (and especially about preservation), but those homes are gone and the developers have to build what will sell. And I trust people to choose a home that they want, regardless of how "good" I think it is for them.



I think the fact that these homes have vinyl siding and modern fixtures (wherever they come from) actually makes them "of our time". The only true knock-off would be homes entirely of brick with period fixtures.



Also, it's good for the city to have this type of development. I have heard so many people praising the new construction they see along highway 44?it changes their perceptions about what?s going on in the city. Yes, these people are from the 'burbs, but that doesn?t make them dumba**es.

stellar wrote:
Conurbation wrote:
Well man, if they wanna do some modern styles, fine, but not these suburban styles. If they cannot emulate older styles, then fine, move on to something modern and unique, not these suburban styles.




My question when I see comments like this is "What do you mean by modern and unique?" These hybrid styles are pretty modern. They might not be unique, but they are modern. The only style I can think of as both modern and unique are the uber-modern works of men like Frank Lloyd Wright. As interesting as those styles might be, they certainly don't fit the neighborhood. What style did you have in mind?




The residences are modern, but they are not Modern. They are contemporary and post-Modern. They follow current trends. However, they lack any style whatsoever and that's where I have a problem with them. They are retrogressive.



"As interesting as those styles might be, they certainly don't fit the neighborhood."

Since the entire neighborhood was razed and renamed then why not build something different that doesn't fit in but instead stretches the definition of what a city neighborhood can be for the 21st century. As in the discussion about the Arch. If you are going to tear down something historic you better make it worth my while. Don't tear down brick, sell the brick out of State, and put up some vinyl crap with identical Big Box fixtures. I don't really care if they've all sold. People will buy what they are comfortable with, and that's not always good. We won't move forward as a society with that kind of mentality. The city of St. Louis won't get out of a rut without a shock to the system. Let's see something radical not routine.



W.W.E.S.B.? What would Eero Saarinen build?






Where I agree with the essence of your post, and you have a good point, and I agree, I disagree that the houses built are worthy of being built. I still am not satisfied with much of the newer style homes being built in St. Louis.

Either they try to mimic the older styles and fail, or they are simply suburban reproductions. I have seen very few new houses which mimic the older styles well, and I would agree that something great should be built in place of McRee town after the fact, but I do not believe the Botanical Heights development is great.

Ironically, the head of the "Missouri Eminent Domain Abuse Coalition" is none other than a man who used to be the largest absentee landlord of McRee Town, slumlord Jim Roos. Roos was featured in an RFT article on McRee Town a few years ago.



As much as eminent domain is truly abused, advocates would be better off picking a less shady character for their spokesman.

^He has (had) a vested interst in limiting ED, his properties 1)really were blighted, and 2) he didn't want ot give em up. The obvious alterior motive aside, you think you might find a victim of ED :lol: , rather than a slumlord to head the organization-you know, to engender sypathy/empathy/and goodwill...

In all fairness to Roos, at least all of his propertries were occupied. That's better than the Garden District Commission can claim!

^^Surely we should hold Mr. Roos to standards somewhat higher than this.