The Greening of McRee Town

There was nothing wrong with the Missouri Botanical Garden's downtrodden neighbor to the north that a bulldozer couldn't fix

"We didn't want to see suburban development, and we didn't want to see gentrification," says Diane Roche, executive director of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. "This neighborhood had a very strong sense of community and a longing to rebuild the neighborhood in a way that would respect diversity."

Meanwhile, Jim Roos second-guesses himself often, especially in those early morning hours before the sun is up and he's driving the five blocks from his home to his office. Should he have been more friendly? Should he have been less bull-headed? Should he have made sure Kleinbard got a good first impression of his apartments? Could he have convinced the Garden District Commission to save housing in McRee Town for poor people?

Jennifer Silverberg
Jim Roos manages two dozen buildings in McRee Town that are slated for demolition
Jennifer Silverberg
Jim Roos manages two dozen buildings in McRee Town that are slated for demolition

"I have real regrets," he says. "We failed to make this work. There's a sadness about that."

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