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Project connects St. Louis artists to home ownership

The goal is to complete 20 new units over the next three years
Credit: St. Louis Art Place Initiative

ST. LOUIS — Vacant St. Louis homes will be transformed into affordable housing for artists through a new nonprofit called the St. Louis Art Place Initiative.

The nonprofit has acquired 25 parcels in the Gravois Park neighborhood in south city and has plans to develop 20 units of affordable housing and green spaces, according to a press release.

The housing will be a mix of rehabilitated homes and new construction. St. Louis artists will be able to purchase them, giving them a path to build wealth and equity, which is the mission of the St. Louis Art Place Initiative.

Construction will start this week on the first of several vacant homes. The first homes to be renovated are located at 3728 and 3729 Oregon Avenue. These will be followed by newly constructed homes to be located at 3717 and 3719 Oregon Avenue.

The goal is to complete 20 new units over the next three years.

“This project represents API’s and our founding organizations’ commitment to building the infrastructure needed for local artists to thrive in St. Louis for years to come,” said Chris Hansen, Executive Director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. “The impetus for this project came directly out of the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods Plan, which included providing affordable housing for artists. We’re excited to help carry out that vision in this collaborative effort.”

The nonprofit has worked alongside community stakeholders to develop a plan for renovating vacant homes, many owned by the City of St. Louis through the Land Reutilization Authority. Dutchtown South Community Corporation serves as a community liaison to "ensure the input and direction of residents and neighbors is central to the planning process," a press release said.

“Our neighbors care deeply about the future of our community," said Amanda Colon-Smith, Executive Director of Dutchtown South Community Corporation. "Gravois Park is home to a very high concentration of artists within the St. Louis region, artists who are also neighbors, committed and engaged in bettering their own community. This project opens a door for artists connected to the neighborhood to access homeownership and continued stewardship of their community.”

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St. Louis Art Place Initiative has also built a partnership with Dream Builders 4 Equity, a local nonprofit organization that engages cohorts of youth to co-develop homes and gain experience in the development processes, the release said 

Application submissions will open by the end of 2020 and information on the application process and criteria will be announced in the coming weeks. 

API was founded in partnership by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, The Incarnate Word Foundation and the Regional Arts Commission. Architect Karl Grice of Grice Group Architects will serve as lead designer for all of the rehabbed homes. Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis was selected as general contractor for all properties and designer on new construction.