Wells-Goodfellow Neighborhood Green Space Project - St. Louis, Missouri

The Green City Coalition (Coalition) -- a partnership between the Metropolitan Sewer District, the City of St. Louis, Missouri Department of Conservation, and the St. Louis Development Corporation -- is leading the conversion of approximately 9 acres of vacant land into greenspace for stormwater management and recreation purposes. The Wells Goodfellow neighborhood in St. Louis has the highest proportion of vacant land in the city, and also struggles with combined sewer overflows, basement backups, and street flooding that affect the Bissell Point Watershed broadly. Based on GIS modeling and multiple community planning and participatory mapping workshops, the Coalition settled on location for the green space, opting for conversion of 80 semi-contiguous parcels that will create a neighborhood-wide approach to mitigating flooding and providing natural resilience and other social benefits.

To mitigate the problems of stormwater backup and overflow across the Bissell Point Watershed, the city developed the Metropolitan Sewer District green infrastructure plan. The Wells-Goodfellow Neighborhood Green Space Project was created by the Coalition under this plan to achieve the goals of removing impervious surfaces and abandoned structures. The Coalition utilized a GIS-based Vacancy Demotion Prioritization Model to decide the site. Wells-Goodfellow was chosen as it had one of the highest rates of vacant lots and buildings, and was suffering from significant economic decline. The project was designed to revitalize these vacant properties and turn them into ecologically rich green open spaces that serve multiple purposes of managing the stormwater overflow and enhancing the community’s living environment. 

The community was involved in the early process of designing this project. After two years of community engagement, in 2017, the city together with the EPA Land Revitalization Team conducted multiple community engagement activities to incorporate residents’ opinions into the design of the 9 acres of semi-contiguous greenspace. Through a 3-day stakeholder visioning workshop, community members developed specific project goals and design concepts. The goals include improving safety, increasing sight lines through the neighborhood, decreasing dark areas, and maintaining access for residents and municipal services. Specific design concepts include outdoor art spaces, a natural playground, a green amphitheater, native plantings, low-growing trees, and stormwater retention basins. Based on these community-recognized goals and design concepts, the government was then able to further coordinate with partners to implement the project and tailor it to the community’s needs. After the project plan was finalized, 35 vacant and abandoned buildings were demolished, and property conversions began in the early Fall of 2018. The government requested input on proposed official names for this open space in 2020.

This project has established partnerships with multiple public and private sectors. For instance, in the implementation phase, there are 15 partners: in addition to the abovementioned partners, it also includes partners such as the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (the City’s landbank), the University of Missouri - St. Louis, Skeo Solutions (an environmental and social equity consultancy), and many other partners. The Green Cities Coalition and the Wells-Goodfellow Neighborhood Project build on the Urban Vitality and Ecology Initiative (UVE), a pre-existing partnership between the City of St. Louis, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Missouri Botanical Garden aimed at fostering better connections between residents and the natural environments where they live, work, and play. The Coalition expands upon the UVE Initiative by focusing more specifically on neighborhoods that have experienced decades of public disinvestment, resulting in higher proportions of property vacancy and inequitable access to quality greenspace. The US EPA provided funding for the final 3-day design workshop for the Wells-Goodfellow Neighborhood Green Space Project, and funding to begin conversion of the properties was provided by the Robert J. Trulaske Jr. Family Foundation, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the Missouri Department of Conservation.  

Publication Date: August 2017

Related Organizations:

  • City of St. Louis, Missouri

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  • Case study
  • Engagement
  • Project

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