Adolescent Behavioral Health Center to Break Ground on Delmar

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The Dream Front JPEG

A groundbreaking planned for Monday will mark the first physical start of a new adolescent behavioral health center on Delmar in St. Louis City. The $6M project at 5647 Delmar, near DeBaliviere Avenue, is half funding by the city through a Community Development Block Grant.

Delmar at DeBaliviere{the site at Delmar-DeBaliviere}

Delmar at DeBaliviere1{the building demolished at 5647 Delmar}

From the project’s homepage:

Hopewell Adolescent Behavioral Health Center will be a major expansion project in the St. Louis City West End area. The location, 5647 Delmar, will be directly adjacent to the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers and the recently renovated St. Vincent Greenway Ruth Porter Mall Park. The expansion is designed to enhance the programs and physical environment for the care of children and adolescents in need of mental health services. This state-of-the-art 6 million dollar extension will provide a respite for working families, schools, parents, and children.

The Need:

Children and adolescent mental health problems are at a crisis point in our urban underserved communities. Currently, one in every ten children and adolescents in our urban communities have mental health problems. Too often, families recognize that their children have mental health issues, but are unable to find help or unwilling to access help, due to stigma. All too often, these children, whose mental health issues go unaddressed, grow to lead lives of violence and incarceration. It is time we bring the issue of urban mental health to the forefront of our community’s overall health discussion and treat mental health with the dignity and respect our community deserves. We believe that the best way to address this issue “head on” is to bring together the experience and resources of two not-for-profit 501c3 community service organizations, each providing more than 40 years of primary care and behavioral health services to urban communities. We plan to focus the two organizations on addressing the mental health and wellness needs of our urban children and to provide these services in an environment that makes families and their children feel good about the decision to pursue the much needed help.

The Project:

We plan to build a new facility uniquely designed to provide mental health services for urban children and their families in a dignified and respectful environment. The proposed facility programming has been designed with the input of a panel of local expert psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, with a goal of creating an environment uniquely designed to address the mental health needs of our underserved urban children. We plan to build a facility that will bring pride to an often ignored community and promote the discussion of mental health and wellness in a community that is often lacking adequate mental health access. This program will take the issue of urban children’s mental health from an “afterthought” to the forefront of the discussion of urban health and wellness. We aspire to build a 20,000 square foot building at the location of 5647 Delmar Blvd, in North St. Louis (adjacent to the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers central location). The new building will be owned by Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers, Inc., with children’s mental health services provided by Amanda Luckett Murphy Hopewell Center, Inc. The property for the proposed building has already been purchased by Betty Jean Kerr Peoples Health Centers and is currently being prepared to construct the building. KAI Development is the architect on the project.

The Dream 1st Floor JPEG


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  • rgbose

    Here was the 2nd floor interior of the former building

  • Jen Reed Woolford

    I work at the organization and will one day be located in the new building. We have previously been in a location that was less then desirable. Heat was random, offices leaking, bugs, etc., etc. The thought was, as the article says, that low income clients deserve a place as decent, inviting and comfortable environment as any one else. The need for these kids to be treated is growing everyday. This facility, located so close to People’s Health will allow us to work closely with their medical doctors and hopefully encourage parents to get their child mental health care if necessary, if they can walk next door after an appointment with the doctor. I can’t speak to what the previous buildings accommodations were, but I know the new building is designed for needs specific to kiddos with mental health issues. As a social worker, I am excited to have it in the horizon. As a member of the community, I am excited about the growing possibilities to help these kids who need so much, to ensure they grow to be productive, successful adults. Many of these children suffer simply from the environment they live in. If we do not do everything we can possibly do, including making it easier for the parents, who often have no transportation, we will have generations to come of kids growing up with little education, and no help for the things they are dealing with. My hope is that you will all see the positives in this, instead of the negatives.

    • Guest

      I think any reasonable person would understand and appreciate the positive work that will be going on there, but nonetheless, thank you for pointing that out. Please realize that many people here are concerned with our built environment. St. Louis isn’t any different than any other city in the importance to make it a desirable place that attracts businesses, corporations and residents. Improving our built environment plays a part that is very important in achieving that. When cities attracts more businesses, corporations and desirable neighborhoods happen more is given by them to the community and that includes the underprivileged. More jobs benefits all classes, both directly and indirectly. It’s a part of the larger picture and I hope you can appreciate that. I wish everyone understood that.
      So, I offer apologies if you think our priorities are misguided even though on the surface it may seem that they are. The new urban movement is concerned with the positive results diversity in all facets brings which translates to better living for everyone. The issue isn’t that this facility isn’t wanted in this spot. The issue is proper direction in our built environment.
      Please think about what I’ve said.
      (Personally, I have no problem with the design of the new facility. I question why an existing structure that could possibly be rehabbed into an attractive structure is being demolished for it when there are other vacant lots in that immediate area on Delmar that may be able to accommodate it.)

      • Jen Reed Woolford

        I can respect that. Does the city ask for citizen’s approval or input before they tear down a structure? Just curious. They should. People should be able to voice their opinions and concerns before hand.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes and no. The short answer is that an alderperson can decide to opt-in or opt-out of historic preservation review. If a ward chooses to opt-in, the review only covers buildings within an historic district, or designated as a city landmark.

  • Alex Ihnen

    Tough crowd here (which I mostly like). This building and organization will serve a desperately needed service in our community. This makes our city better, but helping some of our most vulnerable residents.

  • Tim E

    My thought is the use is what most likely driving a need for a new structure. I think having the best foot forward which also includes the physical surroundings inside the facility with what you know makes this an easy choice considering its mental health for the community. In other words, how the space is designed and layed out inside is what matters to help people and that can be accomplished a lot easier with the new structure. I would have a very different sentiment if this was a center for a community arts center where it might be a lot easier to work within the space and restraints of the existing structure.
    Second, built structure being replaces with another built structure of more square footage is important. I also think the new structure is a better design then the non-descript with very limited or no ornamental work. Is the new structure a great design? I don’t think so but good chance budget is limited and prefer some of the extra to go into helping someone. Of course, the question could also be ask. Is there available space for infill within the immediate area that could have accommodated the location & structure desired?

  • Imran

    The sad part of course is the building that was demolished could have housed this organization. If only we had more foresight around here. Do not like the parking adjacent to Delmar but at least the building is built to the curb.

    • David Hoffman

      The building was hideous. New building, new jobs, better looking neighborhood.

      • Framer

        Yep. Not every building needs to be saved. Seems like this was a fair trade.

        • Adam

          Agreed. Unfortunately, though, the new building is hideous as well.

        • Imran

          One could argue this forever but I will say this. I would rather repurpose a building built to last for centuries than replace it with one that may not stand 50 years. And from the sustainability ( environmental, social, cultural and economic ) standpoint, it is always better to reuse than demolish.

        • Guest

          It’s times like these when experts need to look into structures. At first glance it looks like a total wreck. But take a closer look. I’m not an expert, but I do have an appreciation for good architecture. I don’t know the history of this old structure, but the door and large window above with what looks like very old glass block, looks obvious of moderne design. Perhaps added later in modernizing (if so at least it was a decent effort), or perhaps truly a moderne structure built in the 40’s…30’s…early 50’s (?). The rough scar along the top suggests it may have had further “modernization” in the 60’s with a typical false mansard so popular at the time. C’mon architects and designers…anyone else see what I’m seeing?
          A good architectural designer could pretty this place up that would put to shame the design of the proposed structure.
          Let’s not trash a building just because they look a mess. Let’s get an expert to take a good look before passing judgement.
          That being said, I wonder why they chose this very spot to go through the trouble of tearing a building down with all the vacant land on that side of Delmar? Is it structurally unsound?

          • Chicagoan

            The subtle scar at the top could be a number of things. It could be that there was once a cornice, it could also be some intricate brickwork, or it could also be wear from some kind of detail or sign that once adorned the building.

            I don’t understand why the new building is being celebrated. It’s oriented toward the surface parking lot, not the street. The only interaction pedestrians will have with this building is seeing inside two meeting rooms (though I’m sure there will be blinds they’ll just keep down), and watching people go up and down the staircase.

            I just wish the surface parking lot could’ve been behind the building and the structure could’ve fully fronted the sidewalk (including the main entrance).

      • Daron

        Hardly hideous. It is just a poorly taken care of storefront. Replace the boards with nice windows, get all that paint off of there or do it over, and then you’ve got a viable urban storefront. I’m sure it isn’t beyond repair inside either. At least it it isn’t designed to face a parking lot like the proposed replacement.

        • This is a facility for adolescents: people with developing brains. If there was even a ghost of a hint of lead paint in the old building, it needed to go.

    • Chicagoan

      I agree. I don’t know what it looked like inside, but I really like the exterior. Strip the paint from the brick facade, open up the first-floor display windows, put in new windows on the second-floor, and renovate the entryway.

      I know that this is going to become a strong resource for urban St. Louis, but there are enough blank lots and surface parking, they shouldn’t need to wreck a building that could be properly restored by somebody else.