During the 1970s and early 1980s, the central corridor of the City of St. Louis extending alongside Lindell Boulevard between Midtown and the Central West End had experienced widespread disinvestment, blight, and out-migration. Losses involved thousands of residents, both black and white, as well as commercial and industrial occupants. The intersection of Washington and Olive became known as the “Stroll”, one of the City’s most well-known havens for prostitution. Several buildings had been demolished; and others were either fire damaged or slowly scavenged for copper, brick and other valuable building materials. Liquor stores and pawnshops occupied the few remaining street fronts. Crime and drugs were plentiful.
However, the surrounding area was stable. St. Louis University occupies a large campus just south of the area. The historic Fox Theater and the Grand Center Arts District were gaining momentum just east of Vandeventer. Private streets and lovely historic homes fill the Central West End on the west.
In the mid-1980s, McCormack Baron Salazar worked with then-Mayor Vincent Schoemel to create a public/private partnership to take on “The Stroll”. McCormack Baron Salazar led the residential development, while the American Cancer Society, Mormon Church, and St. Louis Public Schools developed new facilities that anchored the area and brought legitimate foot traffic to the streets. McCormack Baron Salazar built a critical mass of 392 new apartments and homes in three phases for more than 1,000 new neighborhood residents. The structure of the development ensured long-term affordability for families, and brought a mix of middle- and upper-income households to the area.
McCormack Baron Salazar also built the 96-apartment McCormack House, an assistive living apartment development for low-income seniors – the first of its kind in Missouri.
In 1985, in response to a need for a supermarket and other retail services for the growing residential community, McCormack Baron Salazar, joint venturing with Leo Eisenberg, developed Lindell Market Place. This 145,000 square foot shopping center provides needed service-oriented businesses, restaurants, and a full service supermarket and has created opportunities for minority-owned business to participate in a growing marketplace.
In 1993, McCormack Baron Salazar approached the American Cancer Society with a proposal to relocate its St. Louis metropolitan headquarters to the neighborhood on a site adjacent to the supermarket. This resulted in the construction of a 40,000 square foot headquarters building and a 23,000 square foot Hope Lodge.
In 1994-1995, a new church and a new magnet high school, now the best public high school in Missouri, were built in the redevelopment area.
After 20 years of commitment and hands-on involvement, this devastated 90-acre area was transformed into a vibrant and diverse neighborhood where families, singles, and seniors in every income bracket enjoy high-quality homes and amenities. McCormack Baron Salazar has been joined by private homebuilders who have expanded the boundaries of success to the adjacent Gaslight Square neighborhood. These homebuilders, many venturing into the inner City for the first time, have sold more than 80 single-family homes and townhomes at prices ranging from $240,000 to $550,000.