Renaissance Place at Grand is a 512-apartment, economically-integrated LEED-ND certified HOPE VI community located north of Grand Center, the mid-town arts district in Saint Louis.
Previously, the site was the location of the Arthur Blumeyer public housing development, constructed in 1968, which consisted of four high-rise and 42 low-rise buildings and housed 1,162 families, including 585 elderly. While the development initially was an asset to the community, and served families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, over time the development began suffering from deferred maintenance, high crime, and eventually, high vacancies.
Residents began managing the development in 1995 and, as part of the management process, began undertaking a major renovation of the units; however, together with the St. Louis Housing Authority, the residents determined that major revitalization was needed to truly transform the community.
The first step in creating a master plan for the community was conducting an extensive community planning and visioning process to draft the plans for new housing and community support services with a steering committee made up of residents and stakeholders, including the Blumeyer Village Tenant Association and the Tenant Advisory Boards of the Elderly buildings.
The next step was applying for a HOPE VI Revitalization Grant. HUD awarded the St. Louis Housing Authority a $35 million HOPE VI grant award for Blumeyer’s redevelopment in 2001.
The new community, renamed Renaissance Place by residents, contains 512 mixed-income apartments, 110 of which are in a universally-designed senior building and another 30 of which are in a universally-designed accessible building for non-seniors. The development includes townhouses and garden-style apartments for people from a range of incomes including public housing residents, workforce/affordable residents and market-rate residents. The development program also included second mortgage assistance targeted at first-time homebuyers earning less than 80% AMI to promote homeownership around the community. This mix helped to recreate the type of income diversity that Blumeyer once had, and that is typically found in healthy urban communities.
Today, the transformed community is environmentally-sustainable community featuring 213kw of solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system that provides irrigation and was the first community in Missouri certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) program. Amenities include an on-site community activities building, community gathering space, a computer lab, private pool and fitness center. Urban Strategies raised money to develop a pavilion and walking path at a neighboring park, encouraging more active, outdoor lifestyles for residents.
The Community Supportive Services Program,managed by Urban Strategies, helps residents achieve their goals for self-sufficiency and personal development. This includes linking with educational services, career placement and enhancement support, child care services, health services, and programs for youth including employment, tutoring, and other educational activities. A Resident Liaison, funded by the operations of the new Renaissance Place at Grand developments, continues to work in the community as a member of Urban Strategies’ staff.