Groth Guide to Skinker-DeBaliviere

The Skinker/Debaliviere neighborhood is a south-central neighborhood of St. Louis located south of Delmar, north of Forsyth/Lindell, west of DeBaliviere and east of the city limits. I couldn’t figure out exactly where the western city limits are drawn; but I’ll use my usual tricks of street pavements and city dumpsters to establish St. Louis from University City.

Skinker/Debaliviere lost 3% of its residents from 1990-2000 when 4,505 people were counted. 50% black, 42% white, 5% Asian and 2% Hispanic/Latino. 2,348 total housing units were in existence as of 2000, with a dynamite 90% occupancy rate, 41% of which is owner occupied, 59% rental.

This is one of the greatest neighborhoods in St. Louis. Why? Well, it abuts Forest Park one of America’s greatest urban parks. Then you have the mansions along Lindell Boulevard. The Metrolink blue line stops here with an underground stop at Forest Park Parkway and Skinker. The East Loop is on your doorstep as is the Washington University Danforth Campus. It’s really a beautiful, very urban, walkable neighborhood.

There’s a lot to like here. And with the news of a potential grocery/farmer’s market right by the Delmar Metrolink stop on the red line (technically in the West End neighborhood), the sky is the limit for Skinky-D. This is one of the St. Louis neighborhoods that make you feel like you’re in a big city. There are scooters, bikers, walkers everywhere. It’s a vibrant place. There is a small branch of the St. Louis Public Library right along Skinker (note the bike rack).

I’m not alone in lauding the pluses of what some call “the Skinky-D”, Here’s a note from the neighborhood website:

Skinker DeBaliviere has a history that is as deeply rooted in the St. Louis legend as the 1904 World’s Fair, an event that spurred the rapid development of the institutions and homes in the area. Today, the neighborhood continues to be one of the most vital and livable neighborhoods in the metropolitan area, due in part to the dedication of it’s residents and institutions.

A major attraction for homeowners is the great diversity of housing in Skinker DeBaliviere. Ranging from historic single-family homes on quiet private and public streets, to newly constructed town homes in Kingsbury Square, to gracious two-family flats and apartment buildings, the neighborhood offers a wide selection of housing options. Nearly all homes include spacious rooms, and most are ornamented with the exquisitely detailed millwork, art glass and fireplace mantles of the early 20th century style. This traditional architectural beauty, along with a gracious yet thoroughly modern lifestyle, has not only kept many families happily anchored in the neighborhood for generations, but has resulted in the return of several second and third generation Skinker DeBaliviere families who had previously moved away.

The neighborhood was designated a Local Historic District by the City of St. Louis in 1978, and the private subdivision of Parkview is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

If there are downsides to Skinker Debaliviere it’s the excruciatingly frustrating one way and intentionally blocked off streets. It’s nearly impossible to navigate your way around this neighborhood in a car. But the pluses far outweigh the negatives (street closing can be reversed right?).

Let’s start with the mansions along Lindell. There are classics:

To the more contemporary:

Most of the street in Skinker-Debaliviere have mature trees and nice shaded streets with lots of pedestrian activity on the sidewalks. Here are some of the typical homes you’ll see in throughout the neighborhood:

There is a rather unique late 1980’s era development called Kingsbury Place off of Debaliviere that looks like a suburban enclave right in the middle of the city. The development in centered around a nice park:

It’s like a little Mayberry U.S.A. scene that seems to contradict the rest of the neighborhood, but somehow sets itself apart as a nice option for city living with a small town feel.

So the housing stock is top notch, what about rental property? Some of the nicest in apartment buildings in the city:

Obviously there are some great properties in this neighborhood. There’s also a lot to do within walking distance. You can walk to the Metrolink stop at Forest Park Pkwy/Skinker after a nice cup of joe:

Stop into the library:

Take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood on a pedestrian cut-thru:

Great restaurants and retail on Delmar:

And development continues to spread east as 6108 Delmar is the site of a proposed retail and restaurant development. The plan includes demolition of the building to the east one of the one shown below.

The rendering of the proposed development at 6108 Delmar:

The street view of the two one-story buildings and the Regional Arts Commission.

The fun, urban streetscape of Delmar is dealt a distasteful blow right at DeBaliviere Ave where Metro built what amounts to a city block length brick wall. There is a classy older building right at the corner, but the poor design of the maintenance building shuts off the potential for any interest from the sidewalk/street.

The Pulaski Bank on DeBaliviere is one of my favorite banks in the city; and it’s a proud reminder of the thought and care that went into designing this neighborhood:

Unfortunately, there are some butt ugly contemporary strip malls that have done their best to cheapen the look of the neighborhood along DeBaliviere:

And, I’ll leave you with a truly original place: Joe’s Cafe, a private club for art lovers and traditional music. Joe’s used to be a BYOB performance venue, bring your drink of choice and pay the $5 door charge and chill. There’s now a membership required, $50/yr/person. Well worth it I say:

Skinker Debaliviere is another example of St. Louis’ unique and vibrant neighborhoods.