Recent article about Morgan Ford and Manchester areas-sorry it's so long but I couldn't get the link to work:
Churchesí revitalization on roll in south city area
by Joseph Kenny, Review Staff Writer
An effort by a group of South St. Louis churches to revitalize their neighborhoods has targeted two main thoroughfares.
The churches point to the need to support new businesses along Morganford Road such as the popular Tin Can restaurant/pub and similar successes and struggles of businesses along Manchester Avenue.
The church group, Churches Committed to Community Concerns, or C4, has played a key role in other local development projects such as Gravois Plaza, the Keystone development at the former Sears site on South Grand, the Southtown site at Kingshighway and Chippewa and the preservation of South Side National Bank.
A meeting was held Aug. 18 with elected officials, owners of properties and residents. More than 300 people attended to report on progress that has been made and to share ideas.
Tom Sanger of St. Pius V Parish noted that the group has been meeting for several months with city representatives and business owners and has surveyed neighborhood residents to learn of their concerns.
"We want to take on projects that will help revitalize the city, make it a better place, a safer place, and help our neighborhoods improve," Sanger told the Review.
The improvements will "put a dent into what we see as a big problem of urban sprawl ó people leaving the city to go out to the suburbs," he said.
City neighborhoods are revitalizing, he said. "You can be close to all the things here in the city and not have to drive miles and miles. We have many things in the city that are attractive."
Neighborhood stabilization will help the churches, including many historic Catholic parishes that have been anchors in the area for years, he said.
"There were a lot of closings this year, and we were very upset about that. A lot of people got hurt by that process. We would like to think that our work is going to prevent that from happening" in the future, he said.
"Our actions and activities, along with the work of other people, will make our neighborhoods stronger, attract families and help churches," Sanger said.
He reported that several businesses are forming the Tower Grove South Business Association.
The alderman from the area, Joseph Vollmer, D-10th Ward, reported on funding for facade improvements and sidewalk enhancements, Sanger noted.
The targeted area is Manchester from Vandeventer to Kingshighway and Morganford from Arsenal Street to Utah Place.
Twelve churches of various denominations are members of C4, including Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Cecilia, St. Cronan, St. Pius V, St. Stephen Protomartyr and Sts. Peter and Paul. Immaculate Conception-St. Henry, which recently merged with another parish, was a member.
The Catholic presence in South St. Louis has been important historically, and "itís even more important now with so many churches closing," said Patricia Curtis of St. Cronan Parish. That presence includes the Churchís support of low-income residents, she noted.
The Churchís role was evident at the Aug. 18 meeting, she added. "This community depends on us as a strong element of stability." Her neighborhood, along Manchester, hit its bottom point five to 10 years ago, Curtis said.
The businesses that stayed adopted a "fortress mentality to protect their property," she said. Neighborhood residents had a broader vision of a thriving community ó a concept shared by the new merchants.
These retail businesses have a more open, inviting look. By banding together they can promote a welcoming, rather than decaying look, she noted.
"Some things are starting to take off beyond our wildest dreams, but thereís still a long way to go. "
Joe Moramarco, also a St. Cronan parishioner, said a vibrant and viable commercial area improves security and adds to property values. Manchester and Morganford are two similar streets with once-thriving businesses starting to come back but not quite fast enough, he said.
"We donít want to see this go the other way again," Moramarco said. "We realize these commercial strips can be the hub of the neighborhood. So we focused on what we can do to get some political focus on these areas."
Key business leaders are rallying others, he said.
Moramarco cited work with a business owner, Ed Shalabi, to improve his neighborhood grocery, Manchester Market, and efforts to add parking. Alderman Joseph Roddy, has pledged to help with the parking.
"Weíre trying to get things accelerated on Manchester, to get off the slow, sluggish starts," Moramarco said.
A St. Pius member contacted Operation Brightside, which then did a cleanup along Morganford. C4 members targeted a former tavern building on the street that now is being rehabbed as a private residence.
Restaurant/pubs along Morganford that have been promoted by the church group include The Tin Can, Ronís Mighty Pub, Tower Pub, Verona Coffee Bar and Restaurant and The Morganford. Grove Furnishings is another new business that has helped stabilize the area.
"When people see businesses flourishing and have convenient shopping itís a huge benefit to the neighborhood," Moramarco said.
[Posted by Susan
on Fri., Aug 26, 2005 at 3:59 PM]