This Holiday Season I had some interesting experiences about sustainable neighborhoods. First Off, I finished the book, “Tower Grove”, by local historian Mark Abbott. Since I live in Tower Grove and have my business there too, it was at the top of my limited reading list. I love studying history and also love all the books with pictures of how things appeared throughout history. (Incidentally, Tower Grove is looking pretty good right now, but that’s besides the point.) The book was a nice short read. I also noticed that a sustainable neighborhood lecture was being held in March by the Friends of Tower Grove Park organization and featuring Mark Abbott as the presenter. Lastly, I drove through my old suburban neighborhood and spoke to our old neighbor briefly about the condition of the neighborhood. Things seemed nice when we bought our first home, but had slowly started deteriorating. The number of vacant homes and rental property were increasing. Property conditions were on the decline. This neighborhood was built in the early 1960’s and has been appreciating in value, is in a very good school district with very good highway access and access to community services. It makes me wonder about sustainability. That topic seems to come up when discussing urban neighborhoods, but not in suburban areas. In looking at history, homes were often times individually built very well. Looking at the building practices between 1960 and 1990, most of the suburbs were built in St Louis and St Charles county. Time will tell how well the homes hold up and how well neighborhoods hold together. I’m curious to know what will happen when these suburban communities face the same challenges as the older neighborhoods in the city and inner-ring suburbs. Most suburban homes built between 1960-1990 don’t have features that inspire people to restore homes such as custom wood-work, 10′ ceilings, built in pantry’s, etc. There is an aspect of “interchangeability” that are associated with newer homes, it will be interesting to see how things change. Some believe that due to environmental and energy reasons, that cities will continue to make a comeback. Whatever the case is, I’m looking forward to the seminar. As a realtor and as a ‘housing enthusiast’, I believe that sustainability of a neighborhood is mostly due to the care of the home owners in the area followed by the design of an area and its homes. Some obsolescence can come from design (lack of inside plumbing, lack of off street parking, etc. but much of that can be overcome. As I look around the St Louis metropolitan area, I am convinced that much of our areas development has taken place because of the abundance of land and the belief that we can continue to move away from our problems into the next new community. While that has always been the case, now that the borders of the St Louis area continue to push outward, there seems to be a change in many peoples perspective towards choosing neighborhood sustainability over neighborhood replacement.
Shift to Sustainability