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Chuck Berry

Music legend Chuck Berry lived at this house on Whittier Street in St. Louis from 1950 to 1958, when he recorded some of his biggest hits, including "Johnny B. Goode." Photo by Todd C. Frankel of the Post-Dispatch

Chuck Berry’s former home near Fairground Park, where he wrote such classics as “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Maybellene,” could become a museum dedicated to the father of rock ’n’ roll.

The St. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, which owns the home at 3137 Whittier Street and some surrounding properties in the Greater Ville neighborhood, is seeking private bids to purchase and redevelop the dilapidated building with public assistance.

The city is asking respondents to have a plan for the nearby intersection north of the home including portions of Ashland Avenue and Fair Avenue. The LCRA owns about 20 properties in that small vicinity.

“The Redevelopment should contribute to the creation of a vibrant and active corner at Fair Avenue (aka Chuck Berry Way) and Ashland Avenue; while building a strong relationship to Whittier Street,” states the request for proposals.

The city wants the home rehabilitated to its “original and historic condition” for a walk-through experience. The city also wants the proposal to include new construction either adjacent or nearby to house an additional museum or exhibit space about the artist’s life.

Also sought in the proposals is a nearby open event space such as a plaza.

Incentives to the developer could include a 25-year real estate tax abatement, a sales tax rebate, state and federal historic tax credits, New Markets Tax Credits, and other financing options. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Berry lived in the home for eight years until 1958, where he worked on some of his most famous songs before rocketing to stardom. “This space is — in essence — the birthplace of modern rock and roll as we know it,” the request for proposals notes.

Berry died March 18 at his home outside St. Louis.

St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams said the agency will be working with the neighborhood, aldermen and Berry’s family to craft the proposal.

“We wanted to do this and see what response we get (and) make sure we do something that’s tasteful and reflective of history,” Williams said.

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