St. Louis neighborhood turns over a new page

June 22, 2018 | GET MORE : Social Responsibility

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New Pagedale Town Center development is the latest chapter in a decade of economic development.

A new cinema, grocery store, senior apartments and a bank star in the story of transformation in one St. Louis neighborhood. 

Residents flock to a two-block area in Pagedale, Missouri, to buy goods and services that were much harder to access before the construction of Pagedale Town Center. They can easily buy groceries, visit friends at the Rosie Shields senior apartments, see a first-run movie at the 24:1 Cinema and get health care. Ten years ago, the same area consisted of a tired restaurant, a used-car lot and a few small houses.

“The development we have done here, we believe it will be catalytic. We are showing people what’s possible when we work together for the betterment of a community – that places like Pagedale and its residents can support the economic development that comes from these investments,” said Chris Krehmeyer, president and CEO of Beyond Housing, the nonprofit developer of Pagedale Town Center. 

U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, a division of U.S. Bank, invested $4.5 million in New Markets Tax Credit equity to help Beyond Housing build Pagedale Town Center. The development is part of a $55 million master plan by Beyond Housing for the community of about 3,300 with a poverty rate of nearly 40 percent. 

“We see a role that we must play in addressing that inequity in our region. We look for ways to not only work with customers who know what communities need but also to invest in a way that is accountable to those communities,” said Zack Boyers, chairman and CEO of USBCDC in St. Louis. “For us to be able to invest in a sustainable successful way in areas that had not seen in it in decades was really a great opportunity and one that I’m very proud of.” 

Pagedale and other residents in the 24 municipalities that make up the surrounding Normandy School District told Beyond Housing they needed a convenient place to shop for groceries. So Beyond Housing worked with USBCDC to develop a value-priced grocery store, operated by Save-A-Lot stores. Since it opened in 2010, the store has performed strongly in the market, Krehmeyer said.

Residents also needed a health center because the area has the greatest lack of primary care doctors in mid-St. Louis County. A 2,800-square-foot community health center opened in 2017 in a two-story building that is also part of Pagedale Town Center. 

Another need residents identified was entertainment options since neither of the nearest first-run movie theaters was easily accessible by public transportation. 

“There was a greater sense of pride about the movie theater (than anything else),” Krehmeyer said. “They said, ‘Wow!’ This is something they never thought they’d have in their community. There is a sense that they are really on the map now.”

They key to the successful development of Pagedale Town Center rested foremost on asking residents what they most wanted in their community. Then it was finding the right financial partners, Krehmeyer said. 

“I don’t think there is any other entity in this region who would have taken the time, energy and effort to become a real partner like U.S. Bank has done,” he said.