From illegal dump to dream home

Live Near Your Work housing assistance program helped fund award-winning rehab

before and after of a house
Before-and-after photos of Anne and Nate Peterson’s West End home. Anne Peterson used the Live Near Your Work employee housing assistance program to restore the property. (Photos courtesy of Anne Peterson)

The house Anne Peterson now calls home was slated for demolition — twice. And for good reason. Located in St. Louis’ West End neighborhood near the Delmar Metrolink station, the house had been ravaged by an electrical fire and left vacant for a decade.

“There were a lot of reasons to run screaming from the house,” recalled Peterson, assistant director for development at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. “There was trash everywhere. And someone had been using the house to illegally dump tires. We counted 80. But there was also a lot to  admire — original pocket doors, the 12-foot ceilings, the woodwork. We saw something there.”

Thanks to Washington University’s Live Near Your Work employee housing assistance program, which provided an $8,500 forgivable home loan, Peterson and her husband, Nate, restored the home to its original grandeur. The work is so impressive the Landmarks Association of St. Louis recently awarded the Petersons a “2019 Most Enhanced Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation” and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch featured the home in its weekly “At Home” feature.

“The Live Near Your Work program allowed us to design the home we wanted,” said Peterson, who also used historic tax credits. “The program was easy to access and the support we received was terrific.”

To serve more employees like Peterson, the Live Near Your Work program is expanding its budget from $200,000 to $300,000. The program provides $8,500 (or $12,500 for employees who purchase a home in the  Forest Park Southeast neighborhood).

Live Near Your Work eligible neighborhoods.

Eligible neighborhoods include:

  • Visitation Park
  • Academy
  • Central West End Northeast
  • DeBaliviere Place
  • Forest Park Southeast
  • Fountain Park
  • Lewis Place
  • Northeast University City
  • Parkview Gardens
  • Skinker-DeBaliviere
  • Vandeventer
  • West End

Jeff Hood, the Live Near Your Work program administrator, said these neighborhoods boast beautiful properties at every price level.

“I think employees would be surprised by what they see in these neighborhoods,” Hood said. “These communities have a lot to offer and are close to Washington University campuses and many of St. Louis’ best attractions.”

couple in their rehabbed kitchen
Anne Peterson and her husband, Nate, pose in their new kitchen. Peterson loves her new neighbors and living so close to work. (Photo courtesy of Anne Peterson)

That certainly has been Peterson’s experience. She knows some people are wary of living north of the so-called Delmar Divide. But she loves it.

“Because I’m not from here, I didn’t have some of the feelings about the neighborhood that others have voiced,” said Peterson, who moved to St. Louis five years ago from Nashville, Tenn. “I see the location as an advantage. I love our neighbors and being so close to the Loop and work.”

Henry S. Webber,  executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer, said the Live Near Your Work program is a success. In the past 10 years, the university has awarded $997,504 in forgivable loans for 136 properties. That support has helped fuel almost $29 million in residential investment by Washington University employees.

“We are thrilled that so many of our employees are using this important benefit,” Webber said. “Live Near Your Work is good for St. Louis, good for our employees and good for the environment.”

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