The Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corporation (SNHC), serving as a lead nonprofit devoted to the housing vitality and people-first focus of this tight knit community, has successfully operated for the past 30 years. Not content to simply sit back and permit indifferent market forces to ignore or work against this distinctive community of irreplaceable brick homes, active neighbors, and vibrant city life, SNHC is embarking on a new neighborhood improvement effort, with an emphasis on the main access point – Shaw Boulevard.
Overriding changes in the metro region, including population dispersion and suburban sprawl have become unsustainable, and undesirable, for many thoughtful urbanists. The rebirth of Shaw, and the desire to address isolated eyesores and problem properties, coupled with successful marketing of the Shaw neighborhood, has resulted in SNHC laying out a specific Shaw Boulevard Improvement Action Plan. The plan is concentrated on a small area to have a higher impact.
The spread of foreclosures, underemployment, and economic uncertainty has left a wake of disinvestment, encroaching blight, and similar concerns across all neighborhoods and suburban jurisdictions far and wide in our St. Louis metro region, and for many other older metro areas. Bucking these trends, the Shaw neighborhood is proactively taking steps and collective action which positions this city neighborhood to continue to be recognized as “the best in City living.” This distinction will be strengthened and sustained as we take steps to:
Leverage History, Housing, and Quality of Life to Plan and Accomplish a Living Community.
Access into the heart of the Shaw neighborhood is limited and managed through two main arteries. From Grand Boulevard on the east and from Tower Grove Avenue on the west, the only two access points into the heart of Shaw are from Magnolia Boulevard (right next to Tower Grove Park), and on the north side of the neighborhood via Shaw Boulevard. These two main arteries are crucial to access and egress for the Shaw Neighborhood, as well as in defining the character of the Shaw community. Magnolia Boulevard is among the most historic, distinctive and well maintained thoroughfares in the greater St. Louis region. However, Shaw Boulevard, on the northern boundary, is not nearly as well appointed currently, but has just as much importance and potential as the Magnolia Boulevard access in defining the character and reality for Shaw as a living community.
The objectives for improving Shaw Blvd as an important arterial road and “gateway” to our neighborhood are clearly defined:
1. Completing an improvement survey (Completed Dec 2012) through the Shaw Blvd Improvement Advisory Committee, developing a plan and implementing capital improvements, including entry markers, signage, bump outs, lighting, and others amenities and features, in collaboration with Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association, and with Alderman Conway.
2. Identifying and developing/improving vacant and abandoned buildings and lots using tax credits when applicable, prioritizing central three blocks of Shaw Boulevard which will result in greatest improvement.
3. Identifying and helping home owners who are eligible for Forgivable home repair loans/completing repairs, in partnership with another nonprofit provider equipped to manage and provide this service.
4. Educating home owners on foreclosure prevention, with leadership of Beyond Housing or other similar organizations.
5. Developing a neighbor led beautification program for landscaping individual homes, in partnership with Operation Brightside or other similar organizations.
6. Compiling a landlord list and educating investors on market information, being good landlords, and proper screening techniques.
7. Creating and installing unique bike racks for businesses on Shaw Boulevard, with St. Louis Artworks or other similar organizations.
8. Education of buyers about home purchases and down payment assistance programs, with leadership of Beyond Housing or other similar organizations.
9. Assisting commercial owners with facade grants and attracting other commercial entities to invest along Shaw and improve key corners to operate their businesses.
These nine objectives are not presented in any order of priority or emphasis. SNHC seeks to secure partnerships with other sponsors, funders, investors, and providers that will be sustainable, and broadly support many, if not all, of these objectives, guided by our overall goals. Shaw Neighborhood is proud to announce our partnership with Tenet Health Care which has pledged $10,000 to help achieve the goals of the Shaw Blvd Improvement Action Plan. We look forward to working closely with them in the near future.