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Delmar DivINe: Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Electrification Programs Help Breathe New Life into a St. Louis Community

A consortium of private investment, government, non-profit agencies and Ameren Missouri collaborated on a large-scale project to transform an unused facility into a vibrant multi-use residential and non-profit business hub that is bringing much-needed stimulus to an economically disadvantaged part of St. Louis, Missouri. This story also highlights the multifaceted roles a public energy provider can play to help propel a project of this scale and bring the benefits of enhanced energy sustainability to underserved communities.

Envisioning a Brighter Future For a Former Hospital

The facility now known as Delmar DivINe on Delmar Boulevard west of downtown St. Louis was originally St. Luke’s Hospital, a general hospital that operated from 1904 to 1985.

Maxine Clark, the retired founder and CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop®, saw an opportunity to transform the unused hospital into a facility that would provide affordable housing and non-profit business space to an economically depressed area near the “Delmar Divide” – a well-known boundary between significantly different socioeconomic groups in St. Louis. What ultimately became a six-year project drew on resources and vision from a broad coalition of stakeholders.

City of St. Louis Supports Project With Incentives

As part of a broader city investment in the revival of this area, the project qualified for incentives from the City of St. Louis. Coupled with private funding, the city incentives became important components to bring the project vision to reality.

Ameren Missouri Gets Involved

Through its extensive relationships in the Greater St. Louis area, Ameren has had a long-standing relationship with CRG Realty Group, the prime developer for the project. From a purely practical standpoint, Ameren Missouri became involved as the supplier of electric power and infrastructure that would support the reborn facility. In addition, Ameren’s existing programs that spur economic development, renewable energy, energy efficiency and electrification would prove to make significant contributions to the project.

Enabling Electric Vehicle Charging

Ameren Missouri is also supporting Delmar DivINe as they seek to provide electric vehicle charging stations to make sustainable transportation more convenient for apartment dwellers and non-profit business tenants in an economically depressed area.

Empowering the Project With Neighborhood Solar

The facility presented another opportunity to enhance energy sustainability through a renewable power footprint. Delmar DivINe donated existing land with a canopied parking facility for development by Ameren Missouri, which has deep expertise in solar power facilities, both large and small. The utility installed a small-scale renewable power resource atop the canopies through its Neighborhood Solar program. Enabled by Ameren Missouri's Smart Energy Plan, sites like these provide clean energy to the grid, while also serving as hubs of renewable workforce development and solar education.

Incentives to Improve Energy Efficiency

Ameren conducted energy efficiency assessments for the project and provided cash incentives for installation of energy-efficient HVAC and lighting equipment for the residential units and business spaces within the building.

Vision Pays off Handsomely

The Delmar DivINe facility opened its doors to residential and non-profit organization tenants in 2022. 

Says James O’Mara, Business Development Executive with Ameren Missouri, “This project is more than an excellent example of the success of economic development. It also points to the critical role that energy plays throughout our lives. When we get energy right, we create more economic opportunities for everyone and a vision for a more sustainable future that illuminates every corner of our society.” 

This six-year undertaking has been a remarkable success in converting part of the “Delmar Divide” into the “Delmar DivINe.” At full occupancy, about 1,000 people will live in 150 apartments or work at the 33 non-profit entities. For apartment residents, rent does not exceed 30% of average salaries.

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