Good neighbors make better community partners

Outreach effort enhances, revitalizes local neighborhoods

Matthew Green, community development intern, left, and Brian K. Phillips, execut

Matthew Green, community development intern, left, and Brian K. Phillips, executive director of the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corp. (WUMCRC), look over some maps of the area. The WUMCRC recently received a “What’s Right with the Region” award from Focus St. Louis (on easel, between the two men) in the category of promoting strong communities.

Over the past 35 years, two St. Louis neighborhoods — the Central West End and Forest Park Southeast — have made great strides in improving quality of life for residents and promoting economic development. Playing a key role in these efforts has been the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation (WUMCRC), a partnership between Washington University School of Medicine and BJC HealthCare that promotes safety and sustainability in these neighborhoods that surround the Washington University Medical Center campus.

In order to achieve these goals, the WUMCRC has invested millions of dollars toward regenerating the market for private investment in businesses and real estate, enhancing human and social service opportunities, and improving the level of physical and personal security.

"WUMCRC has played many roles over the years to help stabilize these two important neighborhoods," says Brian K. Phillips, the group's executive director. "Our most important role has been and continues to be that of community partner. We work diligently with neighborhood organizations to build their community development capacities to ensure the long-term stabilization and growth of these areas which benefits both the neighborhoods and the medical center. It has been my privilege to lead my very capable team on behalf of the medical center in this important effort."

In Forest Park Southeast, the WUMCRC is active in improving housing conditions, turning functionally obsolete housing into new housing opportunities for low-, market rate- and median-income families. In addition, the group regularly sponsors community events that bring residents and volunteers together to improve the infrastructure and beautification of Forest Park Southeast.

The WUMCRC also has implemented a wide array of human and social services programs in the Forest Park Southeast community, including:

MERS/Goodwill Employment Assistance
Rebuilding Together Metro St. Louis Home Repair
• Youth Programming
Free Saturday Health Clinic
• Holiday Outreach (food, gifts, utilities)
• Senior Citizen Art Classes
• Walking Club

Security is a major concern in both neighborhoods. In the Central West End, the WUMCRC played a key role in creating special taxing districts that fund the Central West End Neighborhood Security Initiative (NSI). Staffed by a full-time security expert, NSI schedules and coordinates off-duty patrolling services and provides safety and security education to residents and business owners. In Forest Park Southeast, the establishment of a community liaison officer and bike patrols have proven to be integral in reducing crime and fostering a rapport between the police and the community.

The WUMCRC will continue to use the forward momentum created by these efforts to compel further neighborhood revitalization. This renewal will continue to enhance the neighborhoods' residents and businesses as well as the Washington University Medical Center and BJC Healthcare complex.

The Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation promotes the vitality of neighborhoods north and south of the medical center.

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