The 656-unit George L. Vaughn Family Apartment high-rises were built in the 1950s as models of public housing. By the late 1980s the four towers were in very poor condition and by the early 1990s the towers were virtually vacant. In the early 1990’s, McCormack Baron Salazar began work with the St. Louis Housing Authority and the residents of the George L. Vaughn public housing development to create a bold new plan for mixed-income public housing. The St. Louis Housing Authority received a special set-aside under the Cranston Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act of 1992 to raze the existing structures and create a demonstration housing program on the existing site.
Through a pioneering public-private partnership that combined HUD public housing funds with low-income housing tax credit equity and market rate debt, the development team replaced the failed Vaughn high-rise public housing project with an attractive new development that has brought stability to the Near North Side neighborhood, located just north of Downtown St. Louis.
One of the first communities of its kind in the country, the new community, named Murphy Park became a pilot project for the HOPE VI program. Economically-integrated, Murphy Park families and children also benefit from community and supportive services provided by the COVAM community development corporation. As part of the effort, the local Jefferson Elementary School was converted into a neighborhood school, a new principal was hired with community input, and a new curriculum was implemented with innovative approaches to teaching. McCormack Baron Salazar raised the $4 million needed to upgrade the schools physical plant and pay for new programming.
In 2010, McCormack Baron Salazar installed a 126.7 kW solar array that provides 140,000 kWh of energy to the apartment community annually.
Today, children finish their school day at Jefferson Elementary and run across the playground to play baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals Care Redbird Rookie stadium at the heart of Murphy Park. Other children stay after school to participate in art and dance programs offered by the Center of Creative Arts (COCA). While their children play and learn, parents work at the school’s adult computer lab, learning new software skills, working on resumes, and completing 10-key training for banking positions.