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Botanical Grove: Green City Living in the Heart of Saint Louis

March 22, 2011 Environment, Planning & Design, Real Estate, South City 5 Comments

A ground breaking was held last Friday afternoon for the Botanical Grove project in the Botanical Heights neighborhood.

The Botanical Heights Neighborhood is a centrally located neighborhood with close proximity to many Saint Louis amenities and destinations. The neighborhood is in the midst of a series of planned redevelopment projects that aim to improve the area, creating a vibrant walkable urban community. The first portion of redevelopment was completed between 2004 and 2007 and included the construction of 150 new homes on the six blocks bounded by 39th Street and Thurman Avenue, completed by St. Louis based homebuilder McBride and Sons. Botanical Grove represents the next phase of development, with a focus on green building within and the historic context of the western half of the neighborhood.

The neighborhood was formerly called McRee Town, so-named after McRee Ave that runs east-west through the neighborhood. Here is info on the project:

Botanical Grove includes thirty new homes on the 4200 Block of McRee in the Botanical Heights Neighborhood of St. Louis. These homes include all new homes as well as complete renovations of historic homes, with a range of unit types and sizes. All homes are built to LEED for Homes standards, to your custom specifications. Green construction on all homes, including standard geothermal heating and cooling, means a healthy lifestyle at a low operating cost. Combining these green features, with quality construction, and ten year property tax abatement allows Botanical Heights Homes to offer exceptional homes at a an exceptional value.

The firm UIC + CDO, located at McRee Ave & Tower Grove Ave , is the developer.  The project has been in the planning stages for the last five years.  In August 2010 I attended a neighborhood meeting where the project was presented to the neighbors, Ald Joseph Roddy (17th Ward) and Stephen Conway (8th Ward) both spoke at the gathering.

ABOVE: Ald Roddy (left) and Ald Conway (right) in August 2010
ABOVE: Ald Roddy (left) and Ald Conway (right), August 23, 2010

I like many things about this project, among them:

  • Existing privately owned homes within the defined area will remain in the hands of the current owners. Existing residents I spoke with will be glad to see  neighboring properties renovated and vacant lots infilled.
  • Vacant structures will be renovated, not razed.
  • New construction offers a contemporary, but compatible aesthetic.  The Model 1 has a great floor plan with central kitchen and rear living room.
  • LEED construction for the buildings as well as green elements for the street, such as rain gardens, are important to reducing waste.
  • Commercial buildings along Tower Grove Ave will also be renovated.
  • The homes include single-family detached and townhouses. The sizes are reasonable, not McMansions.

I’d be concerned about starting such a project in this economy but the bankers present on Friday are behind the effort.  I think they will phase the project over the next few years as buyers sign on the dotted line for each renovated building or new construction.

ABOVE: ground breaking shovels outside the UIC+CDO office on Friday March 18, 2011

This firm has already demonstrated with both of their buildings at Tower Grove Ave & McRee Ave that good design and a slow approach can make a huge difference over time. Over the next 10 years we will hopefully see the rest of the vacant structures in Botanical Heights renovated and the vacant lots infilled with new housing units.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. This project seems to be hitting the right marks on so many levels, and is obviously a huge improvement over the Botanical Heights homes built from 2004 – 2007. One very nice detail is the optional detached alley facing garage, which leaves plenty of unpaved backyard space. St. Louis has had great success with owner financed remodeling, but this project is a great model for scaling that up to a few blocks, without clear cutting the existing home and street fabric.

    Scott Ogilvie
    Independent for Alderman Ward 24
    Vote Tuesday April 5th

  2. Kitty says:

    sounds great, but i still wish they hadn’t changed the neighborhood name. represent your roots, McRee Town!

  3. Kitty says:

    sounds great, but i still wish they hadn’t changed the neighborhood name. represent your roots, McRee Town!

  4. Jamy says:

    It is nice to see well-executed renovation projects like these in our city.



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