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cherokee comeunity hub

Cherokee ComeUniTY HUB

Open-Space Infrastructure

for an Interactive Plaza



The process started with this questions on November 15, 2008 when Incarnate Word Foundation welcomed neighborhood supporters to an exciting “Open Space” Brainstorming process. All day long, people met and ideas poured forth. At the end of the day, three proposals were chosen to move forward for voting.

For about two months until mid-January 2009 residents, businesses, and other stakeholders of Benton Park West were invited to vote on which of three proposals they thought would most benefit the Benton Park West neighborhood and surrounding area. Almost 200 people participated in voting by one of three methods: voting at the neighborhood association meeting; or voting by electronic ballot on; or voting by paper ballots which were hand-distributed to the entire neighborhood. The ComeUnity Hub proposal was chosen to receive $25,000 to move forward.


“Sidewalk contacts are the

small change

from which a city’s

wealth of public life

may grow.”

–jane jacobs


Common space

Novel opportunities to meet and connect with neighbors and visitors to Cherokee


Common pace

Changing the speed we live life -- playing more, exploring more . . . . . . . in ways that are better for our bodies & the environment


What is the Cherokee ComeUnity Hub?

Community-based design will transform a strategically-located intersection into a plaza atmosphere. This built environment will include shade structure, seating, and green space. On-site programming will encourage community interaction through music, dance, art, and play.

By developing a vibrant, energetic gathering place open to all, the Community Hub will facilitate pedestrian traffic to local businesses and conversations with neighbors in a safe, open locale. Visitors will invited to join in!

As accessible opportunities to connect across cultures increase, mutual respect will grow and preserve the diversity that is the hallmark of the neighborhood.

Move-meant will become the nature of Cherokee.


What will it cost?

  • We have received a $25,000 Seed Grant from Incarnate Word Foundation that will:
      • secure the lot,
      • support consistent project management, implement temporary infrastructure and
      • simple greenspace,
      • and provide for a seasonal event series.
  • The project will occur in multiple phases that allow for growth in a sustainable fashion over time as future funding becomes available, and as the community’s needs are integrated by Participatory Design.
the community responded enthusiastically to the project so far the core planning team includes
The community responded enthusiastically to the project.So far, the core planning team includes:

So… How do we do it?

assemble a work team and begin asking the right questions


  • 4 Architects
  • 1 Master Gardener
  • 1 Neighborhood small business owner
  • 2 Community art center directors - programming specialists
  • 3 Neighborhood Developers
  • 1 infrastructure systems whiz
  • Community organizers
  • Artists -- painters, photographers, comic artist
  • Gravois Park, Benton Park, and Benton Park West neighbors

So…How do we do it?

assemble a work team and begin planning

research, choose, and secure

a centrally-located LRA lot




A city-held LRA lot requires the signature of approval from the alderman of the associated ward. Alderman Ken Ortmann still feels concern that this lot is not best suited for a community-held plaza. As a representative of the people, he needs to hear strong community support and a well-configured plan to feel good about moving forward as a collaborator in this project.


After careful study of available properties, the overwhelming concensus of the team, local business district, and nearby residents is that the empty LRA lot @ the SE corner of Texas Ave & Cherokee St will best serve the surrounding neighborhoods as the Cherokee ComeUnity Hub.

how can we make it sustainable
How can we make it sustainable?

Red Brick Community Land Trusthas offered to be the 501(c3) umbrella organization that hosts the Hub.

Red Brick Community Land Trust is a local non-profit organization

which strives to create sustainable and diverse neighborhoods

that have access to resources and opportunities to achieve their goals.

This partnership will allow for continued grant-writing to cover future programmatic costs.

Careful, clean design& inclusion in the routine CSBA-fundedtrash pick upwill ensure a consistently litter-free site.

Strategies for ongoing management are being developed. The need to create a strong plan for the future upkeep is understood. Who will maintain this site? With what resources?


How can we make it safe?

"So-called 'undesirables’ are not the problem. It is the measures taken to combat them that is the problem... The best way to handle the problem of undesireables is to make the place attractive to everyone else.”

--William H. Whyte

It certainly won’t be less safe than it already is. ;)

Loitering, public drinking, drug deals currently occur in empty, uncared for spaces. We want to offer more interesting alternatives and seek to engage new solutions to old problems. Creating beauty and inviting neighbors to be in public view engaging in positive activity will shift the perceived energy of the street.

Design criteria will include well lit, highly visible spaces.

Posted “open” hours will be enforced.

We take this question seriously and have opened dialogue with businesses about other strategies to safeguard the HUB and maintain its welcoming invitation for all who call Cherokee home and our visitors.


Specific concerns voiced regarding use of this lot include:

1. “We need a commercial enterprise to build here.”

*Given the economic climate, locating a developer with capital to design to historical specifications for a retail venture is unlikely.

*The plaza will be worth its weight in gold to the business district, contributing far more in terms of human interest, safety, and programming than the average $500 - $1000 yearly tax a business would add.

2. “Funding that originated in support of Benton Park West ….should stay in Benton Park West.”

*IWF supports the neighborhood as a whole and recognizes this location as beneficial strategy to support BPW and the entire district

*A line down the middle of Cherokee Street is an arbitrary boundary which issues of safety, community, and vitality flow through freely.

3. “This project would be better suited on a different LRA … the one at Arsenal and Ohio.”

“Any place off of Cherokee, even by a block or two, would not receive near the amount of unplanned use- the sort of sporadic and spontaneous gatherings that little plazas are perfect for - that such a high-visibility space would.” - Eric Steins, Cherokee Street News Blog


Even given these concerns, the community still feels that this lot has the most potential and would like to proceed. What are our options, taking into consideration concerns while moving past planning and into action?


We would like for the city:

To lease the LRA lot to the RBCLT, ASAP thru November 2009

To level and outfit the lot with water and electricity

We would love to:

Bring regular programming, create gardens, install temporary infrastructure

Engage the immediate stakeholders in the design process

Facilitate a formal evaluation at the end of the season


We propose interaction on this site as soon as possible.

Convenient location bridges

East/West sides of Jefferson

2622 Cherokee Street

Corner lot means high visibility

History of successful community


Dormant dirt lot since Empire fell in ‘06


Conceptual rendering by local architect Cipriano Medina invokes a simple, lush green space with a spacious pavilion and active pedestrian traffic


Architect Jessica Deem imagines an inviting place for conversation, lunchtime music, and bold public art.


Walking tours!

Can you imagine a place where…..

People watching

Chess tournaments

Movie nights…

Bilingual story hour for kids

Celebrating Holidays

Sketching outside

Salsa lessons



Peace vigils

and it s been done successfully in many places throughout time
And: It’s been done. Successfully. In many places. Throughout time.

Camp Martius, Detroit Michigan:

“A big attraction for everyone is to rub shoulders with all the other people there.”

Brought “Five hundred million dollars of new investment”

"The quality of the space attracts everyone from rich to poor. The programs are all family-oriented… Everyone is there.”

Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, Oregon:

“The City's ‘living room.’”

what are the direct benefits of the cherokee comeunity hub
What are the direct benefits of the Cherokee ComeUnity Hub?
  • For a business owner –
  • The hub is a magnet to the vicinity, increasing pedestrian traffic flow.
  • For a resident home owner –
      • The hub increases property values and overall desirability for Cherokee as a destination locale-- and makes it easier to meet neighbors.
  • For a neighborhood youth -
  • The hub gives something fun to do! Programming creates a lively
  • atmosphere and integrates young with old.
  • For STL tourists and shoppers –
  • The hub offers access to diversity & a unique place to relax & people-watch.
  • For all of us --
  • The hub brings safety and beauty into our midst.

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by {those} whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.

We need {people} who can dream of things that never were.

-John Keats

we welcome your feedback participation
We welcome your feedback & participation.

Here’s how you can be involved:

Write a letter of support to Alderman Ken Ortmann

City Hall, Room 230 ----- 1200 Market Street -------- St. Louis, MO 63103

Come to planning potlucks and share your skills!

Give opinions @

For more info, contact project coordinators:

LYNDSEY SCOTT 217 898 3777

PAMELA WUCHER 314 706 5063