If you are in the area of the City defined by Manchester on the North, I-44 on the South, Hampton on the East, and City Limits on the West, you’re paying a visit to neighborhood known as Ellendale. I’ve always considered it to be one of the “forgotten” South City neighborhoods. Or would that be considered Central City? Some might even confuse part of the neighborhood as being in the City of Maplewood due to the similarities in housing styles. Whatever the reason, I have always thought it has been relatively under appreciated.
Of course, I am a bit bias. I lived on the western edge of the neighborhood until I was twelve years old and for the longest time, when I thought of “the city,” I thought of my old neighborhood. That disclaimer aside, I was passing through the old neighborhood yesterday and I just couldn’t help but feel that sense of wasted potential welling up in me again. I’m not talking about improving on the industrial sector in the eastern half of the neighborhood or even the fixing the failed St. Louis Marketplace shopping center. I am talking about the core of the neighborhood between River des Peres and McCausland Avenue on the east and west, and the railroad lines to the north and south. I have outlined the section in question on the map below.
To me, this is one of the most “development ready” sections in this part of the City of St. Louis. Maplewood has been booming with development activity and it started to spread eastward into St. Louis. The area in question, bisected by Southwest Avenue, would be an ideal and feasible site for a major developer to come in and take advantage of this energy. There are houses throughout the area, but they are quite small and most are in a state of significant disrepair. You can see a few examples of what I am talking about in the picture at the top of the post. I would have to think that most of these owners would jump at the chance to sell for a respectable profit. If it can be done in more affluent areas, why not here? Take care to note that I am not advocating the use of eminent domain. I hate it in all forms and would never condone it’s use for such a project. No matter how great the benefits might be.
Other than the buyout problem, some might have issue with the close proximity to two railroad lines and RIver des Peres. In my mind, these are of little concern. To my knowledge, even during the “Flood of 1993” this area didn’t flood. Even if that was a concern, fill dirt could be brought in to raise the grade level. It’s happening all the time along the Missouri River floodplain, so why not here? As for the railroad tracks, I lived half a block from the same tracks for twleve years. You’d be surprised what properly insulated windows can do.
So you have a good location, no major issues and a likely attainable amount of lots. There are still a hundred other things that would need to be considered, but it sounds like further investigation would be a worthwhile endeavor. Whether a residential, business, retail ormixed-use development would be most appropriate is a question better suited to minds greater than yours truly, but I don’t see how you could go wrong with any of the above. Hopefully someone will realize this in the future and help bring the spotlight the area.
If you have any insight into this area or any ideas of your own, please feel free to share via comment or personal message.