Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Extreme Makover: Affton Edition

AFFTON MARKET RESEARCH FACT: Twenty and thirty somethings who grew up in the Affton area and have lived in other areas of St. Louis never want to come back to Affton.

Rationale: They do not see the area as desirable when compared to other areas nearby that have centralized "downtowns," civic organizations, better schools, better housing stock, parks, pools and other public amenities. They also still see the area as being "hoosiery" and strive to disassociate themselves from that image.

On my recent trip to Baltimore, we were joined by an associate of my youngest sister. She is a St. Louisian, 26 years old, and single. Not to my surprise, she found the prospect of relocating to Affton very appealing. She cited the affordability of decent housing as the primary reason for this.

Affton must get out of the box and directly market to these young folks interested in starting families. This is a market segment SORELY underserved by current housing developments as only high-end homes and condos are the primary market. Even better if NON-Catholics are targeted. The realignment of City schools and Catholic parishes are points AGAINST locating families in the City right now. Affton's reasonably low taxes and relatively decent schools can be used to lure folks from fashionable City 'hoods such as St. Louis Hills and South Hampton.

* This represents my own, personal investigative research and not anything the good taxpayers forked out for.


At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should look to Maplewood -- which seems to have been reborn as a hipstertown. But what Maplewood has the Affton lacks, essentially, is a walkable main drag (Manchester). Affton has Gravois, but it's too spread out and strip-mally. Potentially, if you could redevelop the area right next to the city limits (Sybergs, St. George, etc.) and stock it with hip bars and boutique shopping on the ground floor and loft condos above them, you might have something that would attract the creative class and their tax $$$

At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 40 something and grew up and graduated from Affton. I am and always have been proud of yjis fact.
When I went away to college I decided I would work in St Louis to live in the Affton area again.
Later I relocated to Maryland Heights but was very dissapointed and moed back to Affton. Later in my career I moved to Springfield. A couple of years later the chacne to come back to St Louis arose and again I was back in Affton. And it here I still reside. Okay maybe in Bayless but in the 63123 zip code.
I have lieved in many places over the course of my life but there is no place like home.
Affton provides solid neighborhoods with great people. Easy access to everything you could want or need and a breeze to get downtown to work. With all it has I don't understand why more people do not move here.
I agree that the benefits of Affton need to be trumpeted.


At 10:13 AM, Blogger Mayor of Affton said...

Frank, I'm certainly glad you still call the Affton area home, but I think you buck the trend. Instead of condering your career having moved you around, consider yourself a Career Afftonian!

While I can oly speak about my own neighborhood, I tend to agree about the quality of people. I met more of my neighbors within a year of moving here than I did in 3 years living in Webster Groves!

I think Affton's younger generations should continue tirelessly to "tighten up" the neighborhoods by forming associations and such. My 'hood is largely filled with older folks that are the original owners of the homes. They have little interest in forming assns. or paying fees for them. They are simply too tired or too old to care.

I posit however that such groups could protect the older folks from things like predatory soliciting and neighborhood watch groups can increase their safety. My area is starting to have a number of families with kids and I think as they become the majority, these plans will fall into place and assns. will flourish here. The Mayor throws one bad ass block party, BTW.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Mayor of Affton said...

Anon, thank you for the comment.

If you've been in town for more than a few years, the last think you would consider Maplewood is "hip" but you are correct. If it weren't for the abhorrent Shop'n'Save design set back from the street, they would really have a mini-Loop area going on there.

I like your idea of creating a walking district near the City-County border, but I do not agree that attracting the Creative Class makes a sustainable community. (Hit Google or Wikipedia for definition of Creative Class, if you don't know about this.) I think that the Creative Class is a highly mobile group and while they fill condos, they move out when they form families. I think in the short term, Affton is better served attracting the families to the existing housing stock.

However if your concept can be done, it could be a win-win if the Creative Class lives in Affton then merely moves DEEPER into Affton to raise families!

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's my point.

Maplewood, which I call Webster's "Slutty Sister," used to be avoided. At all costs. Now it is cool and a destination for culinary enthusiasts. Why? Because she's no longer just slutty... she's SEXY and a bit Naughty to boot.

Affton currently is Webster's other sister... the fat and dumpy one. (I consider Shrewsbury Webster's freeloading brother, while Kirkwood is its overachieving one. Not sure what Glendale is. Maybe a cousin.) Anywho... Affton needs to slim down and glam up. She needs to lose that gut, go to Forever 21, and buy some clothes that show off her new hot bod! (Preferably, her new sculpted and shaven mid-drift!)

My metaphor is silly (and a bit creepy). But my message is not. Affton needs to lose some of its glut and add some fashion. The Creative Class, although fickle, pretentious and at times lazy, could add some of that much needed glam (and hip trendy restaurants) that could put Affton on the Map of Cool, and thus attract and retain other desirable, permanent residents.

Here's another thing... Affton needs to steal a page from Webster's book and promote outdoor family (yet still hip) activities during the summertime. Webster, I'm told, has some sort of cool half-concert/half-movie Saturday night series in the old Orchard section. Farmer Jason is playing! Grand Champeen! And after these shows, they are showing age-appropriate-but-cool movies, too. Fun for the whole family, including the todlers and their GenX parents. Why isn't Affton doing this? Sure, Mid-Rock Crisis is ok for a parrish carnival.... but think how it cool it would be to showcase the Love Experts!

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree more needs to be planned for summertime activities.
And I say no time like the present.
I would propose a family day picnic at Mathilda Park in July or August. A reservation could be made and the word could be spread on this site and other local news sites or publications. Bring your own everything and expect a good time.


At 12:33 PM, Blogger Mayor of Affton said...

I was actually JUST looking at Mathilda Park as a potential site for something. I have not been there, but will have to check it out. I think parking would be an issue there and I don't know how much space there is for an event. I suppose it's safer than my original idea which was using the parking lot at Mackenzie & Heege/Ace Hardware. That location would be loud AND have no parking. A major issue here is funding anything...even portable toilets for such a thing. I think the ACBA has about $3000 and I'm not sure we can just levy a tax to fund such things.

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parking would be somewhat limited but there is always street parking.
Mathilda has a nice picnic area with a playground and toilet facilities.
There is also a ball field in the back of the park.
Other options could be Ohlendorf park on Spring which is the continuation off of Dana. Larger that Mathilda. Of course could always inquire about the community center but I think a park environment would be much nicer.


At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone once said that Glendale is the Poland in the midst of the great war between Webster and Kirkwood. I like that analogy a lot.

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Affton may relate to the southside, but why not attract all of its former south county grads and those from other parts of the county. Is the generation of twenty year olds from St. Louis interested in doing like their parents and returning to STL or moving back into the inner city where their grandparents were raised?


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