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In St. Louis, an Urban Farmer Uses a Rooftop and Food to Spur Renewal

stlroof
Eldar Beiseitov, Chris Faller, Johanna Ballou and Kiley Enno work in garden plots at Urban Harvest STL, a urban farm that sits on the roof of a two-story building in St. Louis. Photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times.

“To be self-sufficient, we’ll need to scale up to several more rooftops to where they’re generating the revenue needed to support expenses,” she said.

By Joe Gose
New York Times
June 30, 2015

Excerpt:

“There’s a wide interest in rooftop farms because there are so many benefits, from environmental to job creation and food creation,” Ms. Schantz said. “There’s also a lot of interest from landlords that want to increase the value of their buildings.”

Mrs. Ostafi approached the building owner, Beau Reinberg, about putting a farm on his roof three years ago after Urban Harvest STL lost its lease on a community garden site. Mr. Reinberg, who bought the building in 2008 with plans to put a restaurant on the roof, also envisions the farm as another way to erase the Delmar Divide. But leasing the roof to a unique user still had to make financial sense instead of being a public relations gambit, he said.

When trying to determine a lease rate, he took into account the nonprofit group’s goals as well as the value of reduced energy bills and roof upgrades such as the addition of a waterproof membrane. Mr. Reinberg also researched what landlords typically charged operators of rooftop billboards and cellphone towers. The parties eventually agreed to a five-year lease that starts at $2,500 annually in the first year and escalates to $7,500 annually in the final year.

Read the complete article here.