Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) has been selected to redevelop the oldest public housing site in St. Louis.
Built in 1942, the Clinton-Peabody Apartments includes 358 units spread over 24 acres and 31 buildings. The complex at full capacity served 950 residents but today houses far fewer because of chronic vacancy.
“Redeveloping the Clinton-Peabody Apartments is a key priority for the St. Louis Housing Authority,” said Alana C. Green, the agency’s executive director. “Although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed our efforts, I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with an experienced and thoughtful development team headed by POAH.”
While this will be POAH’s first major development effort in St. Louis, the nonprofit housing firm has a long history in Missouri as an owner and manager of 1,500 apartments in Kansas City, Springfield, and southwest Missouri.
“We are delighted to have been selected for this important project as an endorsement of our proven strategies that create modern, sustainable housing while improving the lives of residents and communities alike,” said Aaron Gornstein, POAH president and CEO.
The nonprofit’s work will be led by vice president Julie DeGraaf-Velazquez, a veteran developer who spent 15 years working in St. Louis before joining POAH’s Chicago-based Midwest office in 2019.
An initial development phase could start by late 2024, but ultimately the site’s full redevelopment will occur in multiple phases over the next several years with at least $100 million in new investment projected. Resident and community engagement work is underway, with the goal of building broad consensus on a master plan that reenvisions Clinton-Peabody as a healthy mixed-income community better connected to the surrounding neighborhoods.
“All redevelopment begins with a good plan that reflects the needs of current and future residents and strengthens the broader neighborhood. We believe the best plans are developed in partnership with residents and community stakeholders” said DeGraaf-Velazquez.
In addition to DeGraaf-Velazquez, POAH’s engagement work will be led by Felicia Dawson, vice president for strategic partnerships at POAH Communities, and senior vice president William Eager, who heads POAH’s Midwest office.
As development progresses, the new phases will be managed by POAH Communities, POAH’s affiliated property management firm. POAH will also implement its Community Impact platform, which provides data-informed resident services focused on housing, education, employment, financial stability, and health. The design, implementation, and ongoing operations will be shaped by best practices in trauma-informed design to create welcoming, safe, and empowered communities.
Partners in the project include Roanoke Construction and the design team of Lamar Johnson Collaborative and Trivers. Also on the team are landscape architect Arbolope Studio, civil engineer David Mason & Associates, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer Custom Engineering as well as the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce and Unicorn Group, the St. Louis Small Business Empowerment Center, Prosperity Connection, and Key Strategic Group.