Cherokee Street Community Improvement District (CID) announced Thursday its plans to embark on a full redevelopment of Love Bank Park, the street’s only public gathering space located at the corner of Cherokee St. and Nebraska Ave. in South St. Louis.
The redesign of the park is being led by two St. Louis women-owned design firms: Patternh Ives (lead architect) and Arbolope Studio (landscape architect), with general contracting led by E.M. Harris and financing from Town & Country Bank
Love Bank Park was founded in 2015, when neighboring business owners & community members came together to clean up two vacant lots at the corner of Cherokee and Nebraska and install a basketball hoop. Over the past seven years, the small park has served as an important recreational & gathering space for the surrounding community, hosting arts camps, basketball tournaments, vigils for youth lost to violence, Juneteenth celebrations and other events.
“Love Bank embodies the DIY spirit and creativity of Cherokee Street,” said 9th Ward Alderman Dan Guenther. “It began as an open space for the youth of our community and through its evolution has centered on the needs and dreams of our younger neighbors. Love Bank creates a space where youth can be active, imaginative and feel a sense of pride in their neighborhood.”
Over the past 7 years, stakeholders have led multiple design charrettes and visioning sessions about how the park can grow and evolve. The Cherokee Street CID took ownership of the property in 2020. Drawing on extensive community input and design possibilities generated over the years and recent engagement led by young leaders from the surrounding neighborhoods, the CID set out to develop the park into a stronger asset for the Cherokee Street community.
The Cherokee Street CID is set to break ground on the redesigned park in Spring 2023. The redeveloped public space will feature a community plaza with planting beds, seating and chess tables, a built-in performance area for small events, a storage building, a large shade structure, and the region’s first public permeable basketball court.
“This project is a great example of what the Cherokee Street community is about and where we’re heading,” said Brandin Vaughn, fashion designer and chair of the Cherokee St. CID Board of Directors. “The new Love Bank Park creates space for performance, events and the arts; it creates space to come together, to relax and play; and above all it keeps space for the community and the young people of the neighborhood at the center of our district.”
“Patterhn Ives, Arbolope Studio, and our team of skilled consultants are committed to giving back to our community and are grateful to contribute to the redevelopment of Love Bank Park,” said Anna Ives of Patternh Ives. “The Cherokee Street CID is committed to constructing a place that embodies and nurtures the diversity of the local community. The park will constantly evolve to reflect the identity of myriad gatherings, both formal and informal, stitching the park into the daily life of the community it serves.”
The full cost of the redevelopment is estimated to be roughly $1.2 million, and will be funded in part by a large-scale rainscaping grant from the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) Project Clear initiative, that will support rainscaping, stormwater retention and permeable features throughout the project.
To help close the cost gap, the Cherokee St. CID has launched a capital campaign fund in partnership with St. Louis Community Foundation to collect private donations towards the project.
“Love Bank Park was created back in 2015 because community members came together and made it happen,” said Cherokee St. CID Executive Director Emily Thenhaus. “The next phase of the park will be no different. We’re calling on all members of the community — neighbors, businesses large and small, and Cherokee Street fans throughout the region and beyond — to support our street by donating towards this project.” To learn more about the redevelopment and how you can help, visit cherokeestreet.com/park