The demolition for some independent mom-and-pops came to be thanks to a grant of $500,000 from the STL Partnership, secured through the St. Louis County Port Authority. Roughly $200,000 is going toward the tearing down of six buildings, acting as gap coverage for businesses and property owners that didn't have enough insurance to cover the full costs, and the remaining $300,000 will be allocated to beautification of new buildings along the center of town on Florrissant Avenue, which saw the most damage and protests.
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For business and property owner Juanita Morris, it's a symbolic step. Morris saw the business she had for some 30 years, Fashions R Boutique, burned in November in the wake of the grand jury decision. She was helped by a young college student to crowdfund more than $23,000 from donors to open a new location in the city, but is determined to re-open in her old spot.
Morris received $25,000 from her insurer for part of the demolition, with an extra $6,700 from the partnership to cover remaining costs.
"That was horrible, that feeling I had when I saw the building burning, but as I saw the building coming down, I felt like, OK, you have cried enough over this, so let's move forward," Morris said.
Part of moving forward will be a beautification process, and this summer business owners will be eligible to apply for additional STL Partnership grants, said Katy Jamboretz, vice president of communications and marketing. The money is typically doled out in sums of $8,000 to $10,000, and unlike in past beautification initiatives, business owners will not be required to match grants dollar for dollar. The STL Partnership has also allotted 72 grants and zero-interest loans totaling nearly $680,000 to businesses in need in the area.