December 20, 2009 | John Berendzen | Extracurricular

Ville Marketplace funding on President’s desk

Since spring of 2006, a group of us here at Fox have been working through AIA St. Louis to design, fund and construct an open air marketplace in the Ville Neighborhood.  This project started through a collaboration with Ville residents and local AIA Architects to find ways to reinvigorate the stretch of Martin Luther King Drive as it passes through the Ville.  Everyone involved believes that a street named after one of the greatest Americans of the 20th Century deserved better than it currently has.

Planning neighborhood canvassing effort at Jadens, 2006
Planning neighborhood canvassing effort at Jadens, 2006
Fox/Ville Team at Charrette, 2006 - check out Brett's hip do!
Fox/Ville Team at Charrette, 2006 - check out Brett's hip do!
Neighborhood meeting to review designs, March 2007
Neighborhood meeting to review designs, March 2007: Ville Marketplace Board President Warice Davis is at far right

I was AIA President in 2007.  That year was the 150th anniversary of the AIA nationally.  To celebrate, every component chapter took on a local project aimed at improving our community.  This project is our chapter’s 150 effort.  Most chapters did master plans that were finished in a few months.  We decided to build something.  If we knew then what we know now…. Frank, Ian, Brett and I have been working on this since, along with many others.

We’ve built a broad coalition – Washington University Schools of Architecture, Medicine and Business, St. Louis Public Schools, AIA, Sumner High School Alumni Association, The City of St. Louis, the 4th Ward Alderman, Grice Group Architects, Claxton Engineering, Ville Marketplace LLC (not for profit board) and local residents and many others – to make this project happen.  Especially deserving of a “shout out” is Don Koster AIA, professor of architecture at Wash U.

A huge step forward happened this prior week.  Working through Representative Lacy Clay, we have procured a $300,000 line item in the current Federal Budget under Housing and Urban Development.

Adding this money to what we’ve already have pledged (cash, products and in-kind donations) will allow us to break ground on this project early this spring!

One of our funders said this type of project – small, neighborhood based – targeted at developing small, locally owned businesses – is exactly what we should be doing all over this city.  We couldn’t agree more.

Now the REAL work begins!

View heading east on MLK
View heading east on MLK

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