By MATT KIRKWOOD, Associated Press Staff WriterThe city of St Louis has faced a sharp rise in gentrification since the city’s new mayor, Francis Slay, took office, with more than a dozen apartments and condos now vacant.
St Louis is a city with more affordable housing than any other in the country, with the average home for sale selling in St. Louis fetching $4.5 million in March, the most recent month for which available data is available.
In many cases, the residents of the city say, their neighborhoods have been pushed aside by high-priced development.
The area around downtown is a prime example.
The St. Charles-Saint Louis International Airport and many other businesses have been demolished in recent years, leaving a desolate and dilapidated area that is a magnet for homeless people.
The city’s economic development department, which has been overseeing the gentrification efforts since 2012, has been slow to identify and address the problems and is working with the business community to make the city more appealing for investment, said Stephanie Baugh, a spokeswoman for the city department.
The department did not respond to a request for comment.
“We’ve been slow on the ground, so we’re just trying to get the word out and try to bring the conversation up in the right way, and that’s how we can change the conversation,” said Chris Jones, president of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.
The department is also looking to the private sector for help.
Last year, the department launched a pilot program to encourage developers to offer housing for homeless residents in areas where their businesses were already in use.
The pilot is only available to developers in St, Louis and St. Bernard counties.
The program is expected to take place by the end of March.
A number of new developments have been built in St louis in recent months, including a luxury condo tower and the luxury apartments that sit on top of the former headquarters of the state’s largest health care company.
But in many areas, residents say they’re being pushed out.
A vacant, dilapidating lot in the St Louis suburb of Westport was the scene of a violent confrontation between residents and developers in early April.
A woman was beaten to death on a nearby street.
A few days later, an apartment building was razed to the ground by a man who drove his car into the building and smashed a window with a hammer.
The building has since been repaired, but the residents say the building is still a blight.
One of the residents said he has lived in a house for years, but it’s not safe.
He said the building was boarded up, and neighbors don’t want to go near it.
“The city and developers are taking advantage of this, and it’s a shame,” said David Taggart, president and CEO of the Greater St. Paul Chamber of Industry.
“If we can’t keep the buildings safe, who will?
We need the public sector to be doing something to help us.”
The St Louis Chamber of Industries and St Charles Chamber of Business both have plans to start building a new building on the site.
The new buildings will be in an area known as Westport, and the chamber has said it plans to sell the property to a developer who will redevelop it into apartments, restaurants and a hotel.
“It’s been really hard on us,” said Kevin Davis, a manager at a nearby restaurant.
“We don’t have any of the amenities we used to have here, and there’s no way we can afford the rents.
We don’t know what to do.
We’re just hoping that the developer, who is in a position to help, will find a way to do something to make this work.”
A recent study by the nonprofit housing advocacy group Housing Works found that housing for the homeless in St Charles, St. Martin and St Louis counties has fallen by more than half since the recession.
It found that only 20 percent of homeless residents live in affordable units, while nearly 40 percent live in single-family structures.
The new housing developments are intended to be affordable to those who can’t afford to buy their own homes, said Jon Wigler, a professor at St. Francis University and an expert on economic development.
But that won’t happen until the city and other housing developers are willing to pay for affordable housing, he said.
Wigler said he is not opposed to affordable housing for people who can afford to live in it, but he said there needs to be some sort of mechanism to allow them to stay and help them get their housing.
The issue is complicated, he added, because there are people who have nowhere else to go, or they have been homeless for years and they have nowhere to go.
“This is a complex issue,” he said, adding that the city needs to take a holistic approach.
“There is not a silver bullet, and this is a very, very complicated issue that requires a lot