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‘Clean Sweep’ program to demolish vacant buildings

A team of volunteers will demolish five vacant homes in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood on June 30, 2018, including this home on Labadie Avenue.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

The days are numbered for five crumbling buildings in north St. Louis.

As part of the "Clean Sweep" program, hundreds of volunteers will come together on Saturday to demolish vacant homes in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood. The program, spearheaded by Better Family Life and the Regional Business Council, is part of an ongoing community effort to revitalize St. Louis neighborhoods.

“It’s about bringing the soul back into this neighborhood,” said James Clark, vice president of Better Family Life.

Clean Sweep organizers plan to demolish a total of 35 abandoned buildings in north St. Louis this summer.

A total of 11 construction companies have volunteered their equipment and staff to help with the demolition effort, including McCarthy Building Companies and Holland Construction.

“[Vacant buildings] are an extreme safety hazard,” said Craig Lucas, vice president of Kwame Building Group. “You have opportunities for people who want to do bad to use these buildings, and opportunities for residents to get hurt when buildings are falling down.”

James Clark, vice president of Better Family Life, speaking at a press conference on June 27, 2018 about the Clean Sweep program.
Credit Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio
James Clark, vice president of Better Family Life, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday about the Clean Sweep program.

A team of community volunteers will also remove dead trees, mow vacant lots and trim overgrown shrubbery.

As part of the Clean Sweep project, a volunteer crew from McCarthy Building Companies will also convert a three-block stretch of vacant lots on Kennerly Avenue into a community garden.

Winona Rowe lives down the street from one of the homes set to be demolished. She supports the plan to demolish the buildings and create a community garden.

“It’s the properties that I’m concerned about,” said Rowe. “The dilapidated buildings. I just feel like if the homeowners are not going to clean them up, then they should tear them down.”

The Clean Sweep 2018 program will continue through the end of August, with additional community cleanups scheduled for the Penrose/Kingsbury and Walnut Park neighborhoods.

  • June 30: Sts. Teresa and Bridget Catholic Church, 2401 N. Grand Blvd. (JeffVanderLou neighborhood)
  • July 28: North Side Community School, 3033 N. Euclid Ave. (Penrose and Kingsbury neighborhoods)
  • Aug. 25: site to be announced (Walnut Park neighborhood)

Follow Shahla on Twitter: @shahlafarzan

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the location of the community garden in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood. It will be located on Kennerly Avenue between E. Prairie Avenue and Vandeventer Avenue.