Green City Coalition was formed in Fall 2016, as an offshoot of the Urban Vitality & Ecology Initiative and MSD Project Clear, to work with neighborhoods in addressing three overlapping needs:
1. new purposes and management approaches for vacant and abandoned properties;
2. open space to absorb stormwater and reduce combined sewer overflows; and
3. increased access to nature for City residents.
Urban Vitality & Ecology Initiative
In 2013, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Botanical Garden and the City of St. Louis' Office of Sustainability joined forces to form the City of St. Louis Urban Vitality & Ecology (UVE) Initiative. The initiative brought local and regional stakeholders together to achieve the shared goal of connecting people to nature where they live, work, learn and play. The initiative facilitated increased collaboration among residents, universities, environmental organizations, and local and state government agencies.
The UVE Initiative developed a pilot project in the Baden neighborhood to enhance existing green spaces, provide nature-based programming, initiate community gardening, and employ local youth as green stewards.
Lessons learned from this pilot effort were used to inform the development of Green City Coalition as an opportunity to focus on vacancy and inequitable access to quality outdoor spaces.
MSD Project Clear
The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD), as part of MSD's Project Clear, is required to remove impervious surface in the City - to create more open space to absorb stormwater and decrease combined sewer overflows. Through an agreement between MSD and the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC), up to $13.5 million will be spent on removing vacant and abandoned buildings as a way to both remove impervious surface and help the City, in part, with the challenges posed by hazardous, vacant and abandoned structures.
Urban Greening Program demolitions are selected through a process that begins with data-driven prioritization of locations in most need of increased stormwater absorption, are then refined through participatory mapping and community workshops, and are approved by workshop participants, alderpeople, the City's Cultural Resources office, and a working group with representatives from the Planning & Urban Design Agency, SLDC, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Mayor's Office, and the Building Division.