In an effort to bring back the energy that once existed at Laclede's Landing, a St. Louis development group is making passionate plea for city leaders to do something about vagrants.
According to the Advantes Goup, a homeless encampment is posing a major threat to growth in the area.
"We try to activate the neighborhood with more retail," Owner Gretchen Minges said.
Her company is working to breathe new life into St. Louis with a focus on bringing office spaces and apartments to Laclede's Landing.
"We have one (development) that's almost complete that we'll be kicking off here within the next month, two currently under construction and two more getting ready to kick off shortly,” she said.
Over the past year, though, Minges has noticed a growing problem.
"We have people who defecate on our front patio," She said. "There's drug use. There's been fires. There's been broken windows."
Jacob Surrat was working at his office in the landing one August day. It was the middle of the day when he was disrupted by a noise.
"We heard this loud 'boom boom,'” he said. "(We) look out, and some guy is carrying (a long metal pole) and just beats it into the window.”
His office was one of several buildings from downtown St. Louis to the landing that a vandal randomly struck. They attribute it to an encampment along the riverfront where a number of people have set up tents to live in.
5 On Your Side asked Minges if this activity will make her company think twice about future projects.
“Absolutely, 100% and (about) staying down here in the long haul,” she said.
5 On Your Side took that concern to the mayor's office.
"We’re sending down Department of Human Services social workers to engage with the community that's down at the riverfront to do a needs assessment with the ultimate goal of connecting them to shelter or housing,” St. Louis City spokesperson Nick Dunne said.
For Minges, it's not happening fast enough.
"To continue to act like the encampment doesn’t exist because it's out of sight out of mind, and you send one social worker down there once week … I have a masters in social work. You're not helping anybody,” she said.
Ginges said there's a need to focus on providing resources and services to help those who are struggling.
City leaders said they've been able to match five people with housing, and that the process will continue. The city owns the former entrance to the Admiral Casino, where that homeless encampment is set up.
Ginges said she believes it should be declared a public nuisance.
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