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New vacancy portal aims to fight blight in rundown neighborhoods

ST. LOUIS - If you’re looking for a fixer-upper project in the City of St. Louis, the city wants to help you help the city.

The city has launched a new vacancy website to encourage residents to fight blight in some of the city’s most rundown neighborhoods.

The portal gives access to data that uses information from 12 different datasets across four city departments to show exactly which properties are vacant, along with detailed profiles of each.

The new, comprehensive dataset is open to the public and can be viewed and downloaded from an interactive map of vacant properties in St. Louis.

“For people who like maps and data which I do, it’s great to be able to look at that and then hover over a particular parcel and up will pop the owner of that parcel and it will tell you whether they are current on their taxes,” explained Mayor Lyda Krewson, “we want somebody with a plan and some ability to do the work on the property and take care of it.”

The goal is to provide tools to community stakeholders in order to work together more efficiently; to keep properties on the tax roll; reduce vacancy, and get properties back into productive use faster.

“We are a cornerstone in the community and we came in we cleaned up the building and expanded the building,” said Rochelle Bea who operates Beginning Futures Learning Center on Thrush Avenue.

She said the building sat vacant for nearly 15 years before she along with some community partners and decided to make it into a place for learning.

Bea is a city resident who’s invested in tackling vacant properties that she says are an eyesore.

“We want to make sure that we like where we are living,” she said, “and that we are not driving down property values in the area and take ownership.”

Not only did Bea turn the once vacant property into a place where busy parents can drop off their children, she rehabbed a home on Enright and Semple Avenue and even lives in one of them.

“We’ve come together as a family and worked on them together to get them where they need to be,” she said.

“I’m encouraging others to the same thing because I enjoy living in the city. If we as a team come together and purchase these properties and help clean them up the city will look much better.”