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Record Article

Adams Elementary School project signals Forest Park Southeast's rebirth


The St. Louis Board of Education and Washington University Medical Center (WUMC) broke ground Oct. 18 for Adams Elementary School and Community Center at 1311 Tower Grove Ave. The ceremony signaled the rebirth of the Forest Park Southeast area and heralds a beginning chapter in the community's revitalization.

The renovated Adams Elementary School, which has been closed since 1993, is scheduled to open in fall 2001. More than 400 students --pre-kindergarten through fifth grade --will attend the school. The connecting Adams Park Community Center will provide a gathering place for neighborhood activities and social events. The estimated cost of the renovation and development is $15 million.

For years, WUMC has worked with neighborhood residents to help revitalize Forest Park Southeast, a diverse community that has witnessed a steady decline of population and business. This attempt was given a boost by a HUD grant for $2.4 million in 1995. In 1998, McCormack Baron was hired by WUMC as a program manager and subsequent to that, a community town council was organized. Through a community-driven master plan sponsored by WUMC and Firstar Bank, the reopening of Adams Elementary School and Community Center was prioritized as the centerpiece of the revitalization effort.

The vacant Adams Elementary School will be used for both facilities. Renovation will include a complete rehabilitation of the main portion of the Adams Elementary School building, the addition of a new wing to house a gym, cafeteria, kitchen and specialized classrooms, and an outdoor play area for young children. The independent family community center will be connected to the new gym to maximize resources and avoid duplicate facilities. The center will share some spaces with the school.

Major financial support for the Adams Elementary School and Community Center has come from the St. Louis Board of Education, WUMC and Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation. Besides re-opening Adams School and development of a community center, the community-driven master plan aims to improve housing, employment opportunities, education, social and human services, security and business activity.

To help in this effort, the University offers an employer-assisted housing program to encourage home ownership in the area. Medical students and faculty also participate in activities at the Forest Park Southeast Family Care Health Center, and students and faculty from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work provide social and human services.

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