The Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Initiative
Throughout the United States, the majority of major thoroughfares that have been renamed in honor of Dr. King have fallen into decay as the African-American neighborhoods that they traverse have been decimated by disinvestment. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in both North St. Louis, as well as, Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the City of East St. Louis have suffered similar fates and are perhaps two of the most ravaged corridors in the country.
While there have been numerous groups that have experienced dramatic success in pockets along the two corridors such as Friendly Temple, the Greater Ville Neighborhood Preservation Commission, and the Emerson Park Development Corporation, these efforts have been disjointed and have not brought about the desired impact along the length of these major streets in metropolitan St. Louis.
To better coordinate these efforts, four City of St. Louis aldermen—Terry Kennedy (18th), Sam Moore (4th), Frank Williamson (26th) and Jeffrey Boyd (23rd)—with the support of the St. Louis Community Development Agency—have joined forces to better coordinate the revitalization of this important cog in the St. Louis African-American community.
To support this project, the Center for Neighborhood Affairs in partnership with the Creative Exchange Lab, Trailnet, the Innovative Consulting Group, and University of Missouri St. Louis’s Public Policy Research Center are working with the aldermen, the City of St. Louis, and the major community-based groups along the corridor to generate an integrated vision for this historic corridor and an implementation strategy to bring it about. The long term goal is to develop a plan that will encompass not only the sections of MLK that are represented by these four aldermen, but the entirety of Martin King Drive from Lucas Hunt in Wellston to 29th Street in East St. Louis in order to restore this famous roadway to its former glory and to make it a true regional jewel.
The Ville/Greater Ville Comprehensive Plan
The Ville/Greater Ville neighborhood is the oldest African-American neighborhood in St. Louis. Located in central North St. Louis, the Ville community has been home to some of most prestigious African- American institutions in metropolitan St. Louis for the last century.
However, the Ville has fallen on hard times and has suffered severe decline over the last fifty years. It has lost over 50% of its population, experienced massive housing deterioration, and witnessed the departure of most of its economic base.
While the neighborhood has had countless planning studies performed during recent years, these efforts have been sporadic and disjointed. The Center is currently collaborating with the Creative Exchange Lab—a St. Louis non-profit organization comprised of urban design professionals—to assist the Greater Ville Historic Preservation Neighborhood Commission to develop a comprehensive neighborhood plan that will be adopted by the City of St. Louis. The plan will entail strategies to repopulate and rehouse the community, stimulate economic development, address a variety of social concerns, and reinvigorate the cultural life of this important historic neighborhood. The goal is to have the plan adopted by fall 2015.