Developing Sustainable Urban Communities

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  • Node B-Developing Sustainable Urban Communities
  • Node C-Developing Sustainable Urban Communities
  • Node D-Developing Sustainable Urban Communities

In this interdisciplinary seminar, students studying architecture, urban design, and social work learn how to address redevelopment challenges in neighborhoods through real projects with community partners who are deeply embedded in St. Louis neighborhoods. Through course readings, lectures, and discussions, students are exposed to some of the history and context of community development work. These issues include addressing racial equity, considering economic growth, creating vibrant civic spaces, and executing community and civic processes that are effective and inclusive. Students then put these lessons into practice in partnership with local neighborhood organizations, based in the West End and the Dutchtown neighborhoods.

In the spring 2019 iteration, students worked with Cornerstone Corporation and Dutchtown South Community Corporation. These community development corporations are supported by InvestSTL, a regional initiative that aligns investment, technical assistance, and community organizations to build healthy neighborhoods.

Students working in the Dutchtown neighborhood examined two different initiatives: the credit-building effort known as STL Builds Credit; and making potential improvements to Marquette Park, located in the heart of Dutchtown. These project concepts were based on recommendations from the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods Plan, which was adopted in 2018 to guide development in the surrounding neighborhoods.

In the West End neighborhood, students researched specific development opportunities for Cornerstone Corporation, including ways for Cornerstone to acquire, rehab, and resize vacant homes to create more accessible housing for residents. They also analyzed ways to structure a community development corporation.

The student teams conducted in-depth research, which included talking to residents and experts, reviewing literature, assessing benchmarks, and analyzing networks. Students then made recommendations to support equitable and sustainable growth which they presented to partners at the end of the semester.