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Phelps Grove Gets National Recognition As 'Comeback Neighborhood'

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The Phelps Grove neighborhood is getting national attention after being featured in Southern Living magazine as one of “The South’s Best Comeback Neighborhoods.” The article in the January, 2010 issue of the magazine says editors scoured the South to find neighborhoods that were once “down on their luck,” but have seen revitalization. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore sat down with the president of the Phelps Neighborhood Association, Terry Rowland, to talk about the recognition.

Rowland said he and other members of the association were shocked when they received an email in the fall from the magazine’s editor.

“We took a double look, and it was very real. And he had selected, or found out about us totally without solicitation from us, which is great, because the word’s getting out,” Rowland says.

Rowland says he's lived in the Phelps Grove neighborhood for about 25 years.

He said several decades ago, an eclectic blend of university staff and professors had been living in the area for years. When that generation became elderly and displaced, a large student population began moving in and taking advantage of the low prices of real estate, and many homes became rental properties.

This was further complicated, Rowland says, by the “old, urban renewal” of the 1960s, which he says was geared toward tearing several buildings down and replacing them with parking lots.

At that time, the older generation of residents who remained were living next to a much-younger generation, which Rowland says was a “scary blend.” He said the Phelps Neighborhood Association was formed to create dialogue between those neighbors.

What makes the neighborhood special today, he says, is that people are out on their front porches, and they say "hello" and look after one another, characteristics which he says are rare in neighborhoods today.

You can see the magazine article by clicking here.The neighborhood is located in central Springfield, just south of the Missouri State University campus.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.