ST. LOUIS — "Dutchtown's doing great," said Chris Shearman, the Executive Director of the non-profit, Lutheran Development Group in south St. Louis.
LDG has partnered with Rise Community Development to turn old, vacant buildings into new, affordable apartments.
"I'm pumped and yeah I'm excited about this project," said Shearman.
The initial 60 units will be at 14 different sites in Dutchtown and Gravois Park.
Shearman said, "This will be impactful for the neighborhood. We've all been rooting for it for several years now. We've been working on it for at least three years."
The 16-million-dollar project is called Marquette Homes Development.
As part of the plan, a boarded-up, three-story former clothing store in the 3300 block of Meramec Street will be renovated into 10 new apartments and a new business on the first floor.
"It's important to bring these buildings back, to preserve the history and put them back into good use for the community. Plus, we cannot forget the economic boosts the development will give the Dutchtown and Gravois Park areas," added Shearman.
If all goes according to plan, the project is slated to begin in Jan. 2023.
Residents can hardly wait to see the vacant eyesores transformed into new apartments.
"It's something we have been hoping and praying for collectively for years," said Dutchtown resident, Sonia Slankard.
Slankard also works at The Wink, a market shop for startup businesses which is located from the Meramec Street site.
"Looking at the abandoned property is depressing, so we're all ready for some change around here," said Slankard.
And, it's only the beginning.
"We also hope to build new homes on some of those sites that are completely vacant. We're just glad that we're moving in the right direction," Shearman said.
Federal, state, and local dollars will be paying for the development.