Alderwoman spearheads grassroots movement to develop south city communities

ST. LOUIS - Breathing new life into a south St. Louis community.

It’s a grassroots effort to rehab old buildings and bring new development in areas including Gravois Park, Marine Villa, Dutchtown and Mount Pleasant.

One of those buildings includes the Louis Lange Publishing Company on Texas Avenue. Developer Michael Schwartz of Blackline Design and Construction is turning the decade's old structure into apartments.

“To me, there’s more of a community necessity for it,” Schwartz said, “it’s about making these neighborhoods viable sustainable and bringing them back to life.”

The longtime local developer says he’s been taking chances on up and coming areas with new ways on how to give some of the city’s most run down if not neglected neighborhoods a ‘makeover.’

“This isn’t just flipping,” he continued. “There is a lot of money at stake. What we are trying to do here is create safe, clean, nice, cool, fun secure character filled housing for normal people that make normal salaries.”

The need for bringing new flavor into town is what prompted Lassaad Jeliti to trust his instinct.

Jeliti opened Spare No Rib a year ago, believing he’s starting a trend where other similar businesses will follow.

“This is the last part of the city that needs a little bit more attention.” Jeliti said, “so I thought, maybe I can be one of those people who hits the ground and the rent is reasonable. The visibility of the building is great.”

Monday night, Jeliti opened his doors to allow like-minded people a chance to meet and bounce off ideas.

“If you want St. Louis to be thriving and growing and be a vibrant city then every pocket of the city should have that feel to it and I think everybody should care,” he said.

Alderwoman Cara Spencer is spearheading this grassroots movement.

“We pulled everybody together to talk to folks who are already investing,” Spencer said, “people are over the top wanting to share the knowledge they already have and direct people on how to smartly invest in the neighborhoods that are blossoming here.”

Spencer said the next area she will be focusing on is on Chippewa. Schwartz said his new apartment building is scheduled to open in June.