Lewis McKinney’s motive was simple. He wanted to provide safe, affordable housing to bring dignity to seniors in the community.
That community was Jennings, Missouri, an underserved area in Greater St. Louis, the same city where McKinney starred as a college basketball player. The same area where he had taken on the responsibility of caring for his aging parents and grandparents.
“I knew how important it is when people move into this age of life that they can have a place where they still feel a sense of community and still connect with their friends within the community,” said McKinney. “But, at the same time, have a facility that would accommodate their needs as they age.”
The result: STAR Residences, a 44-unit, multi-family housing development in Jennings. STAR gets its name from its definition: Senior Transitional Accommodations & Recreation.
According to STAR resident Patricia Clark, McKinney’s dream has been realized.
“The reason I wanted to live in a senior-citizen building is that it allowed me to have my own private space and be a part of the community of other seniors,” Clark said.
“At night, it’s nice how really comfortable it is that you feel safe – and never, ever feel alone. All you have to do is step outside your door, which is nice for a senior as you age. You really like to feel comfortable.”
To get STAR Residences off the ground, McKinney turned to corporate partners, including Regions Bank.
“When I embarked on this mission, I knew I had to have good team players,” McKinney said. “Regions Bank stepped up to the plate, and they’ve been a good team player, working with us and the broader Jennings community in addition to providing the financing needed to build this property.”
Another St. Louis native, Eric Madkins, works for Regions as a Community Development Manager. When McKinney reached out, Madkins and the Regions team answered.
“Everybody from our affordable housing team to the local market to community engagement — it’s everybody working together to have this amazing result,” he said. “Being able to have an impact on the community, it’s a great feeling to work for a place like Regions.”
Making that impact is more important when you are invested in the community where you live and serve.
“One of the reasons a project like this is so important to us is because this is a community we’re in,” said Mike Hart, the St. Louis Market Executive for Regions. “Our associates live here. We have a new branch we built a couple of years ago in Jennings. So it’s not just about financing a project. It’s about helping to finance the things that are important to the community.”
Count Jennings Mayor Yolanda Austin as a partner, as well. She’s seen the improvement in the community in just a short time.
“Mr. McKinney’s project is giving hope back to the community,” Austin said. “I feel it takes everyone working together. So when you have a financial institution such as Regions coming in and making it possible for the developers to bring improvements to the city, I truly appreciate that.”