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Spotlight on St. Louis Area Neighborhood Activities - Updated November 10, 2013

St. Louis City Residents Offered Free Firewood
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, November 10, 2013 - The City of St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry will offer free firewood to City of St. Louis residents starting Tuesday, November 12, 2013 on the Lower Muny Opera parking lot in Forest Park.

The wood is available after 3 p.m. when any is dropped off Monday-Friday.

All wood comes from the removal of dead or structurally damaged trees from City streets and parks. Daily wood supply is NOT guaranteed. The wood from tree maintenance operations will vary in size and species when left for citizens. It is offered on a first come, first served basis. This process ends during the first week in March, 2014.

Due to park restrictions, no commercial vehicles or trailers are permitted.

"This is an excellent opportunity for City residents to take advantage of picking up free fire wood for the winter months" said Commissioner of Forestry Greg Hayes.

For more information or questions, please call the Forestry Division at 613-7200.

St. Louis Launches New Initiative to Rebuild Neighborhoods Around Transit
St. Louis City Mayor Francis G. Slay announced his administration was setting aside $1 million in additional funds to spur development of affordable housing near transit. The mayor was joined by: (L - R) John Nations, president & CEO of Metro; Opal Jones, president and CEO, Doorways; and, April Ford Griffin, president and CEO, St. Louis Affordable Housing Commission.

St. Louis Launches New Initiative to Rebuild Neighborhoods Around Transit
April Ford Griffin, executive director of St. Louis Affordable Housing Commission (AHC), said that $4 million is now available where developers can apply to create housing for low to moderate income residents in the City of St. Louis.
St. Louis Launches New Initiative to Rebuild Neighborhoods Around Transit
John Nations, president & CEO of Metro said transit-oriented development is bringing jobs, housing and businesses to our region.
St. Louis Launches New Initiative to Improve Housing Near Public Transit
by Bob Moore,
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, November 5, 2013 - There are many reasons why climbing out of poverty and into the middle class is hard. One of many obstacles discouraging people from obtaining a better lifestyle is often a lack of access to good paying jobs.

This point was driven home today in a press conference at City Hall to announce a new initiative to improve sustainability and upward mobility for workers and residents in the St. Louis area.

St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay said that his administration is setting aside $1 million in a trust fund to spur development of affordable housing near transit. "We are doing this to continue to carry out our sustainability plan that the City adopted just last year," stated Mayor Slay.

According to the City's Sustainability Plan, Urban Character, Vitality & Ecology, a specific goal is to increase access to affordable housing in neighborhoods with access to transit and amenities.

"Many people who willing to work hard do not live near good jobs and do not own a car. Some of them spend almost as much time going to and from work commuting as they do at the job itself. It's a real hardship for many families," emphasized the Mayor.

The additional money will be used to leverage private investment as well as other public sources of funding such as community development block grants in conjunction with low income housing tax credits from the state.

He noted that housing is generally the biggest item in a budget, followed by transportation. "The more we can offer a better lifestyle to people of all different income levels that is not dependent on a car, the stronger the community will be," the mayor stated.

Transit-orientated development is not a new concept, but focusing resources for affordable housing near transit is a component that will help the city's efforts to improve upward mobility and advancement for residents.

April Ford Griffin, executive director of St. Louis Affordable Housing Commission (AHC), announced that $4 million is now available where developers can apply to create housing for low to moderate income residents in the City of St. Louis, as well as social service providers.

Griffin said that the sustainability plan was developed through many community meetings where stakeholders, residents, city departments and consultants were brought in to make sure that AHC was looking at the big picture and come out with something that was comprehensive. "We are now committed to moving forward," she stated.

New construction of affordable housing units will have universal design to make sure they are accessible and have energy-saving features. Renovated units will be lead safe.

Griffin stated that to date, 135 new homes have been built and sold to moderate and low income households. The AHC has invested in the new construction and preservation of 1,312 affordable housing units in the City of St. Louis since it was established in 2002.

Nearly $21 million of the trust fund has been invested into these affordable units. For every trust fund dollar invested in construction projects, Griffin acknowledged that the City has attracted nearly $20 in return. In addition, over $439 million has been leveraged from other sources since 2003.

John Nations, president & CEO, Metro, highlighted the importance of public transit and affordable housing. "We know that transit acts as a catalyst for economic development. Millions of dollars in development are already being invested near MetroLink stations and our bus lines. This city initiative will allow the region to do even more. Transit-oriented development is bringing jobs, housing and businesses to our region."

Nations stated that since 2011, there has been more than $1.4 billion dollars invested in new projects that have been built, are under construction or are committed in the future within a quarter mile of the 37 MetroLink Stations in Missouri and Illinois.

As an example of economic impact, Nations cited the success of the Parsons Place development near the Emerson Park MetroLink Station in East St. Louis, Illinois, which opened in 2001 creating a vibrate new residential neighborhood in an area that had not experience infrastructure investments in decades.

He pointed out that the development around the Delmar Loop MetroLink Station is another example of what is possible. "Successful developments like the one around that station has stabilized the community and furthered opportunities to strengthen our region and all of which makes St. Louis a better place to live," stated Nations.

Dutchtown Businesses Create $150,000 Loan Pool Dedicated to Revitalizing Urban Neighborhood
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, November 5, 2013 - The Downtown Dutchtown Business Association (DT2), Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation, and Southern Commercial Bank have established a $150,000 loan pool dedicated to new and established businesses in the Dutchtown neighborhood. This pool is the first of its kind in St. Louis and is available to both for-profit and non-profit ventures in Dutchtown.

In a statement, Jon Beidelschies, DT2 President, said "This is an exciting opportunity for our neighborhood. It creates access to financing for businesses that historically have been unable to get a traditional bank loan. Many of our businesses are owner-occupied shops and restaurants and we hope this will attract more entrepreneurs to our neighborhood."

Justine Petersen and Southern Commercial Bank have collaborated on micro-lending before, but this is the first time they have created a pool dedicated to an urban neighborhood. "We think this will be a model for us going forward," stated Robert Boyle, CEO of Justine Petersen. "We have done similar projects in rural Missouri and we think this pilot is going to be very successful for Dutchtown."

Dan Ryan, Vice President of Southern Commercial Bank, said, "Southern Commercial has a large presence in Dutchtown and we do a lot of local business loans. This pool is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs who may not be able to work with us directly at this point in their business cycle."

"We are very thankful for the efforts of Justine Petersen and Southern Commercial" said Mr. Beidelschies. "Justine Petersen has a great deal of experience with micro-lending to businesses and their expertise is critical on the success of the pool. Southern Commercial is a invaluable, committed partner in our neighborhood. We are very lucky to have them on this project."

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the pool are invited to contact Jon Beidelschies at

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Archived St. Louis Community News and Information:
 ALDI to Open New Store in Central West End
 Clayton Named a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community
 'St. Louis Light The Night Walk' Aims to be in Top 10 of 200 Walk Sites Across the Nation
 St. Louis Mosaic Project Focuses on Diversity and Contributions of Immigrants to Communities
 Concordia Seminary Students Day of Service at Community Gardens
 Metro and Partners Exploring New Type of Transit Service for St. Louis
 United Way Seeks Volunteers for 9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance
 Amnesty Project at STLCC to Include All Misdemeanor Warrants
 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis Cheers Abandoned Factory Cleanup
 Old North Raingarden Is Pilot Program in MSD's Project Clear
 Thousands Turn Out for PrideFest in Downtown St. Louis
 The Trestle in Old North St. Louis to Connect Region
 stl250 Unveils Year-Long Birthday Celebration Planned for St. Louis' 250th Anniversary
 3-D Artwork Inspired by Historic Eads Bridge Installed at Laclede's Landing Metro Station
 Historical Event Held at Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing
 11 Local Arts Organizations Receive Grants Through PNC Arts Alive!
 AT&T Closing the Technology Gap with Contribution to OASIS
 The Mission Continues Veterans and PNC Bank Employees Refurbish Early Childhood Education Center
 Second Annual City Mayhem Obstacle Course Challenge
 Streetcar Feasibility Study Unveiled at Moto Museum
 State Seeking Organizations to Serve Meals to Children During Summer Months
 Hardee's Crew and Fred Bird Helps Heat-Up St. Louis Hit Record High of $125,000
 'Reason for Freezin' Annual Polar Plunge Raises Over $85,200 for Special Olympics Missouri
 Gov. Nixon Announces $1.3 Million in Innovation High School Grants
 O'Fallon Park Recreation Complex Opens in North Saint Louis Community

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