DALATC Eminent Domain North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Uncategorized

Eminent Domain, Northside Regeneration and the St. Louis American

by Michael R. Allen

The most recent edition of the St. Louis American‘s lively Political Eye editorial column deals with the Missouri Supreme Court consideration of the Northside Regeneration redevelopment agreement and tax increment financing bills, invalidated by Circuit Court ruling in July 2010. The Supreme Court took the case under advisement after a November 28 hearing and will issue a ruling early next year.

As a longtime observer of the Northside Regeneration project concerned with both its historic preservation and cultural impacts on north St. Louis, I was struk by one of the Political Eye’s statements:

The EYE is certain McKee would have taken the right to eminent domain had he been able to finagle it, but he was not. Both the Land Assemblage Tax Credit legislation that lavishly benefitted his project and the Northside redevelopment agreement with the city expressly forbid the use of eminent domain.

Actually the use of eminent domain has never been forbidden for Northside Regeneration by state or local statute — although Mayor Francis Slay has stated several times that he would not support the use of eminent domain on owner-occupied housing for the project.

Eminent Domain Events JeffVanderLou Northside Regeneration

Eminent Domain Coalition Meeting on Thursday in JVL

Citizens Coalition to Fight Eminent Domain Abuse

Come Join US
JVL Daycare Center
2953 M.L. King
August 21, 2008
At 6pm to 7:30pm

Special guests:
Ed Martin, Former Assistant to the Governor
Marvin Steele, Paul McKee Properties Consultant

For more information contact: Isaiah Hair, Jr. at 314-38707592 or Pam Talley at 314-535-6867.

Demolition Eminent Domain Gate District

Peerless Restaurant Supply Building

by Michael R. Allen

In these days of biological terrorism and digital warfare, money is rapidly flowing from the United States government and private donors into all sorts of research into biological weaponry. St. Louis University is participating in this boom by constructing a new Level-4 biolab right at the bustling intersection of Grand Avenue and Choteau Avenue. Well, okay, not exactly right on Grand. The ten-story laboratory will sit behind a carefully-groomed sea of bollards and barriers, dubbed by the deceivers and the deceived as a “plaza.” The building’s relationship to its city environment will be as detached as that of the average American researcher from the human “collateral damage” of the latest “smart” war.

The central corridor in particular has been besieged by such buildings until there literally is no sense of place left on most street corners. Sadly, even major intersections — would-be locations for great visual interest — have been spoiled by the occupying forces of visual cleanliness. The demolition of nearly the entire central corridor, a plan began with the horrible Mill Creek Valley clearance of the 1950’s, continues despite the supposedly greater understanding of urban design on the part of our city planners. In place of a dense and connected series of commercial strips and flats has risen a disconnected and uninspired grouping of institutional and corporate mexa-complexes, cheaply-built suburban-style housing, fast-food outlets and surface parking.

One thing that is nearly extinct in much of the central city is the small business. The new vision for this area enforces a strict use segregation outside of the residential portions (Central West End, Downtown, Midtown). City planners don’t want to see an errant diner or locksmith alongside their gleaming hospital towers and biolabs.

The St. Louis University biolab will occupy ground that the University has already cleared over the years — except for that one remaining small business, Peerless Restaurant Supply at 1124 S. Grand Boulevard. Peerless has occupied its modest, two-story commercial building since 1974 and has brought in some foot traffic to the ailing neighborhood around Grand and Chouteau. Not anymore. After a protracted legal fight against SLU’s use of eminent domain, Peerless has reached a settlement with SLU and is vacating its fine building. The building will be gone by year’s end, and the neighborhood will lose one of its last remaining small businesses.

Peerless Restaurant Supply will be relocating to St. Louis County, which often is the beneficiary of relocation from the city’s central corridor.

At least the graceful Arts-and-Crafts style buildings of the Pevely Dairy complex still stand at Grand and Choteau, saved by their compatible single use. As things stand, their preservation is essential to providing any visual beauty to one of the city’s busiest intersection. The biolab’s tendencies will be a powerful sight requiring a mighty antidote like the Pevely complex.

Eminent Domain Midtown

Media Box Folly

In today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Eminent domain takes life’s work

Our correspondent says:

This is yet another example of upper class condescension towards those who make up the true fabric of our nation. It reminds me of what is currently in the works for a twenty- building stretch of neighborhood along Loughborough Avenue, adjacent to Carondalet Park. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it is not a depressed sector of the city. On the contrary, the homes are beautiful, stable and well-kept. Yet all twenty homes will soon face the wrecking ball to make way for a strip-mall. Right across from one of the city’s finest parks. Won’t that be lovely?
But back to the original subject…

The Post article stated “Grand Center’s vision has the area becoming the ‘cultural soul’ of the city, a residential and commercial district that will rival the Delmar Loop and Central West End.” Is that truly what St. Louis needs? Another Loop? Another CWE? It seems like the vision here is for an eventual Great Corridor of Merchandise- A miles-long strip mall stretching from the disco meat markets of Washington Avenue all the way to Clayton. Petit-Bourgeouis playpen, anyone?

I for one would rather know that there’s a well-established independent auto-shop close by.

– jason wallace triefenbach