Sunday, May 16, 2010

Carr Square

Over at St. Louis City Talk, Mark Groth continues his fascinating project: writing blog posts, with plentiful photographs, about each of St. Louis's 79 neighborhoods. Today's neighborhood is Carr Square.

Surely this neighborhood, which includes the old Pruitt-Igoe site, must be considered the eye of the storm of racial segregation, poverty, and misguided urban renewal policies in St. Louis.

Mark cites some information from the 2000 census: 98% of Carr Square's residents are black, and of its 1,327 housing units, 74% are occupied, 99% rented.

From this data and his own observations of the area, Mark concludes:

This is one of those parts of town that has seen such massive disinvestment and lack of care and respect from its inhabitants and leaders, that it is basically a wasteland.

Mark notes that the area is included in Phase C of Paul McKee's Northside plan, and he welcomes that investment:

If McKee, etc. can come up with a contemporary, urban, mixed use, sustainable plan for redevelopment, this could be one of the greatest improvements in the city's long history.

On the one hand, part of me agrees with Mark: If Paul McKee wants to come in and build a neighborhood here on open land, more power to him, right?

But on the other hand: What happens to the 2,339 people, almost entirely black, who do live here? This neighborhood is not entirely open land, it's also people's homes. Just because they rent doesn't mean they can be disregarded. Will they be able to find affordable places to live elsewhere? And what effect will their relocation have on the places they relocate to?

Paul McKee's top-down, large-scale, clear-cutting plan has much in common with the policies that created Pruitt-Igoe and made Carr Square what it is today.

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