Delmar Divine, in my hometown of St. Louis, is a project that is near and dear to me. Located on Delmar Boulevard, the project is currently underway turning the original building of St. Luke’s Hospital into a community hub for at least 30 of St. Louis’s nonprofit organizations. Beyond that, it will be the epicenter for the transformation of an entire community. It is a rare example of a project that doesn’t necessarily excite me from a building perspective, but because of the potential it has to positively impact a community that has long been neglected.
The building itself has a symbolic significance in the neighborhood. St. Luke’s was important historically because it was a catalyst for hospitals becoming a place of training, research, and medical advancement. In the same way, Delmar Divine proposes to be a place of social innovation and advancement. It will do so by providing the space and the resources to nonprofits who are doing important community work. St. Louis is a national leader in terms of nonprofits, and Delmar Divine will help to increase their impact and bring about shifts in the neighborhood. It will not, however, be a space solely for nonprofits — Delmar Divine will also have a community meeting space, 150 residential units, and a cafe for the tenants, residents, and surrounding community.
The name is a reference to the infamous “Delmar Divide” which is what Delmar Boulevard has been called, due to the fact that historically it has been the street that marks a racial and economic divide in St. Louis. Maxine Clark, who is spearheading the project, came up with the name Delmar DivINe, with the ‘IN’ standing for INvestment, INnovation, and INclusion — three of the most important things the project brings to the neighborhood.
I believe in St. Louis and care deeply about it reaching its full potential, and not just for those who already have privilege and opportunity. St. Louis is a city that can enable everyone to prosper, and it is projects like Delmar Divine that will help make this vision a reality. Construction is already underway and it is slated to open sometime during the fall of this year, 2021.
Photo by Lou Bopp