Wondering About Boulevard Heights

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells of a new subdivision coming to South St. Louis city.

I’ve long been fascinated with this gigantic plot of land plop in the middle of a sleepy neighborhood. This whole area of town is rather off the radar, as it’s a bit on the newer side as far as city neighborhoods go; lots of 1950s tract and ranch homes that stopped short of crossing the county/city line. Then there was this bucolic oasis in the middle of it all (above).

The above photos were taken in April 2005, because just as they started messing around Grand & Loughborough to make a Lowesville, buildings in this fenced in “city park” started slowly disappearing.

By December 2005 (above) only a few of the buildings in the small village remained.

Seems many people know this place was a nursery that served city public schools. Seems people also knew about the first proposal of what to do with this large tract of land. I wasn’t one of them. I never did any research; guess I preferred the mystery over facts coming to an end. And luckily, that plan was nixed.

I’m going to miss my private park. I always enjoyed pedaling around this compound because it felt so Leave It To Beaver, so civic, so optimistic. Greenhouses, smoke stacks and round-roof metal buildings tend to make me feel that way.

The view along Field Street (the eastern boundary of the property, above) was especially nice. Even though long abandoned, you could still see the stone paths and concrete benches, and the remnants of what had been rather elaborate and loving landscaping.

So, when reading the news of Rowles Homes inserting a new subdivision onto this land, my first thought was, “Please leave the mature trees. Please leave the miniature park.”

On the company website, they don’t yet have drawings of the homes that will grace the area. You can look at their Gaslight Square offerings and get a close idea of what they’ll offer: brick equals city appropriate; city equals vertical rather than horizontal. These models are far from compelling, yet they are not overtly offensive.

They offer a site plan drawing of what the subdivision will look like, but since they didn’t bother to include any identifying street names, I did that for you (above). I sure hope those north & south streets adhere to the street grid already in place. Kind of looks like it in the drawing, but by excluding the context of the neighborhood it’s moving into, can’t be certain.

From what I’ve read and (barely) seen, I’m down with this plan. Yes, it leaves a lot to be desired, but getting what we desire seldom happens. When thoughtless crap is what gets developed in this general area, a plan that appears to be causing no harm is an acceptable solution. Right now, I remain cautiously optimistic as I watch it with a jaundiced eye.

5 thoughts on “Wondering About Boulevard Heights

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  2. I just drove by this tonight. NOTHING from the original site was saved. NO buildings, no trees, it is all gone. It might as well be Wentzville. The homes are god awful. Cheap brick front facing and vinyl siding on the other 3 sides. What a nightmare.

  3. I grew up in this neighborhood and think this plan is excellent for the area. They matched the house spacing that is across the street and pulled Trainor street through so that it would be a part of the neighborhood. People want larger square footage and would otherside leave the neighborhood to get it. The Southern charm type housing with the big porches Rolwes designed is perfect for the area. With school enrollment at Immaculate going down, we should welcome a new development and the new homeowners that come with it.

  4. I also have mixed feelings as I remember this area as being mysterious as a kid also, however, I really can’t think of any viable alternative. You could make a park, but a block away from Carondelet? really doesn’t make much sense. My problem is the praise the alderman seems to be taking for having new housing built. He had no part in the decision of the school’s not to use it anymore, they are barely open for business anyway………. I guess, and I mean guess, housing was the best use, but did anyone in the ward get any input on this, I know I didnt’!!!!

  5. I grew up a block from the greenhouse, remember going through it as a kid and it was lovely. The kind of houses they’re going to build (you’re right, not offensive) will not fit the neighborhood which is bungalows and ranch style homes. It’s going to stick out like a sore thumb. So sad.

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