Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature Northside Regeneration

Mayor Slay Supports Landbanking Tax Credit, Other Incentives

From the State of the City speech by Mayor Francis Slay:

I strongly believe that we have to be prepared to provide incentives to spur development in our more challenging neighborhoods. If the private sector was going to invest in those neighborhoods without assistance, it already would have done so. We must find ways to jump start that development.

There are three specific ideas that, working together, will do just that.

First, I have made passage of state legislation to establish a tax credit to assemble land for new development in low-income neighborhoods one of our highest legislative priorities.

Such a credit would make it much more likely that neighborhoods that cannot attract new investment on their own will see the same new life that trendier neighborhoods are already enjoying.

Second, we have set aside nearly $2-million dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds to spur neighborhood development in challenged neighborhoods in north St. Louis. Now that elections are over and all of you are firmly seated, Barb [Geisman] will be working with you to see that these funds are put towards uses that have long-term impact.

Third, I intend to work with you and President Reed to continue to use tax increment financing to attract private investment to those City neighborhoods where it is most needed and where TIF will work. And he and I will oppose any blanket policy that seeks to ban or restrict residential TIFs.

Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature Northside Regeneration

Mayor’s Campaign Website Polling on Landbanking Tax Credit

by Michael R. Allen

The Mayor Francis Slay’s campaign website now features a “mini poll” on the current session of the Missouri legislature. One of the questions is interesting:

A bill being considered in the Missouri legislature would establish a tax credit to assemble large tracts of land for new development in low-income City neighborhoods. Is this a good idea?

Here are the choices for answers:

_ Yes, spurring large-scale development in City neighborhoods that have seen years of disinvestment is a good idea
_ No, the tax credit idea is fine, but the scale of the new development worries me
_ No, it’s just wrong to use public incentives to encourage private development

See it for yourself here. Perhaps the mayor’s stance will be influenced by the result of the mini poll.

Mayor Slay Mid-Century Modern

Lambert Terminal Will Be Rehabbed — Carefully

by Michael R. Allen

According to a post on, the $100 million airport terminal reconstruction project will “carefully rehab” airport’s landmark main terminal by Minoru Yamasaki. As the region’s most widely used modernist building, the integrity of the terminal is an extremely important expression of local stewardship of mid-century design. Alongside rehab, the terminal could be enhanced by removal of some of the intrusive canopies in front and other later alterations. While full restoration is unlikely, a sympathetic rehabilitation could restore much of the modern character of the terminal that is a worldwide gateway to the city (just like another modernist icon).

Architects Mayor Slay Old North People

MayorSlay Talks with John Burse’s latest podcast subject is my neighbor, architect John Burse. In his interview, John shares thoughts about the uniqueness of Old North St. Louis, what makes neighborhoods unique (and what makes others contrived), revitalizing the Gateway Mall and other things.  Listen here.

Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Post-Dispatch Breaks Details of Kinder Proposal Through Editorial

by Michael R. Allen

A Kinder tax breakSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 17, 2007

Read today’s editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch if you want your heart broken. Decades of progress on the near north side are threatened by a proposal that does not prohibit the use of eminent domain, even in rehabbed areas like Old North St. Louis.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, posing as some sort of urban hero, and Mayor Francis Slay have not once addressed letters, phone calls or emails from residents or community leaders afraid of the impending attack on the near north side’s fabric. Yet they find the time to let the editorial board know they support a policy proposal designed to benefit one developer that has not been reviewed by St. Louis city planning officials, neighborhood organizations or St. Louis legislators.

Here we see that our region’s lack of leadership on development issues is staggering. As painful as it is to admit, the only “leader” here is Paul J. McKee, Jr., who assembled the land on his own according to a very well-developed plan. After ignoring citizen complaints and growing media coverage of the debilitating effects of McKee’s plan, Slay now quietly jumps on board for this tax credit proposal. Republican Kinder has watched his party attack the poor and urban residents of the state without helping, but now acts as if he is enacting a grand gesture that is in fact a reactionary proposal.

Meanwhile, McKee’s companies are still acquiring properties at a fast pace and phony eminent domain letters are circulating in some parts of St. Louis Place, although the source is unknown. The near north side is wounded and suffering, and the leadership needed to heal those wounds is hard to find. Even if such leadership emerged, the Kinder proposal is a blueprint for unending pain and community-busting.

Here is a challenge: Lt. Gov. Kinder and Mayor Slay should come meet with residents of the near north side in a public forum to hear their concerns, fears and hopes. So far, these leaders have not countered the rhetoric of this being a “unpopulated area” nor have they responded to the citizens whose lives they affect. What we on the near north side assume as a result is that we do not matter to them as constituents, and our removal is their end goal. After all, not once has the full text of Kinder’s proposal circulated around here where it will have its biggest impact. Not one letter has been answered. Not one statement has come from these men that shows respect for the largely poor, African-American near north side population.

Our assumption may be unfair, but we will never know without communication.

Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature Northside Regeneration

Landbanking Amendment Sails Through Senate Committee

by Michael R. Allen

Yesterday, amid the local smokescreen of “land trust”, the Griesheimer amendment to the Quality Jobs Act (SB 282) unanimously passed the Economic Development, Tourism & Local Government Committee of the Missouri Senate.

Here is the available summary (full text has not been publicly released):

This act creates the distressed areas land assemblage tax credit program, administered by the department of economic development. Tax credits issued under the distressed area land assemblage tax credit act, are non-refundable, fully transferrable [sic] income, corporate franchise, and financial institutions, tax credits. Tax credits issued under the act will be equal to fifty percent of the acquisition costs for the land, and one hundred percent of the interest costs. The tax credit program is capped at one hundred million dollars and the total amount of tax credits issued annually is limited to twelve million dollars.

Numerous St. Louis citizens sent letters and made phone calls urging senators to delay the vote until there could be more local discussion, especially in the areas of north St. Louis currently affected by the “Sheridan Place” (or “Blairmont”) land acquisition project Sen. John Griesheimer used to justify the new credits.

As far as this writer knows, the only reply came from the office of Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-18th), who inserted a citizen letter in the floor book for the bill. The St. Louis delegation was unusually silent on this very local matter.

Comments in the press from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Mayoral Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford made no mention of the hurry to pass this bill and the lack of citizen input, or the silence of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in the face of impending physical and social upheaval hitting the near northside of his city.

Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature Northside Regeneration

"Land Trust" Discussions Should Cover All of the Facts

by Michael R. Allen

Expect much discussion of the near northside and “land trust” development in the next few weeks. This discussion could draw attention to the failure of our city’s current charter to handle large-scale redevelopment in a responsible and compelling manner. The discussion might point to the wonderful development opportunities inherent in vacant land. The discussion could lead to a plan for action acceptable to many parties.

However, don’t be sidetracked to the point that the facts become overwhelmed by rhetoric:

– This is a discussion started by the news that in the last four years Paul J. McKee, Jr. has accumulated over 400 parcels in a concentrated section of north St. Louis.

– Many of the properties of the project are in violation of city ordinances.

– The city of St. Louis fronted thousands of dollars to board up, demolish and otherwise maintain property owned by McKee. While the fees are reimbursed, due diligence for maintenance and security have been lacking.

– The agents working on the acquisition project utilized secretive and questionable means, did not conduct due diligence in answering concerns from neighboring property owners and did not disclose the name of the actually responsible parties to community leaders and property owners.

– The property acquisition has included multiple cases where properties sought by other developers were purchased — including properties in known redevelopment areas.

– City officials have not yet responded to concerns of citizens and community leaders who have asked “why has this been allowed to happen?”

– Hundreds of mostly poor African-American residents have been relocated from Old North St. Louis, JeffVanderLou and St. Louis Place. (Some of this may have been inevitable, given housing conditions under prior owners.)

– Historic properties like the James Clemens, Jr. House (in danger of roof collapse) and the Brecht Butcher Supply Company Buildings (under demolition) have been allowed to deteriorate under this project.

– No legal policy directed the purchase of these properties.

Obviously, the language used by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and mayoral chief of staff Jeff Rainford in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch article is encouraging as far as development of the Griesheimer amendment is concerned.

As far as dealing with “Blairmont,” that work has yet to be done. McKee’s ambitious project may turn out to be a mixed blessing from which good can come. Hopefully a full discussion of developing a “land trust” will include the facts of record in the “Blairmont” matter. Only then can everyone work together to create sensible policy for the near northside and for large-scale land acquisition.

Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

"Land Trust" Idea Gaining Support

Tax credits could revive land trusts – David Nicklaus (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 14)

Kinder says the tax credits won’t work for a developer who wants to displace residents. No more than 5 percent of the acreage in a targeted area can consist of owner-occupied homes, and Kinder said he’s willing to consider language that will protect renters, too.

Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay’s chief of staff, says he’s excited about the proposal. “This would be a bold stroke,” he said. “We are cobbling together a lot of cool stuff in this city already. This would allow for something really innovative and imaginative and comprehensive.”

One immediate question:

Does “innovative and imaginative and comprehensive” include Paul McKee’s plans for the near north side?

Mayor Slay Missouri Legislature North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

McEagle Contributed to Griesheimer

by Michael R. Allen

The People for John Griesheimer, campaign committee for State Senator John Griesheimer (R-Washington), on November 6, 2006 accepted a $650.00 contribution from O’Fallon-based McEagle Properties LLC. (This is found in the committee’s 30 Days After Election filing dated December 2, 2006.)

Griesheimer has introduced an amendment to the Quality Jobs Act (SB 282) that would create a $100 million state tax credit for land acquisition projects of more than 75 acres in the city of St. Louis. According to Griesheimer, a developer from St. Charles County is interested in the credits for a project in north St. Louis.

McEagle Properties has ties to an acquisition project in north St. Louis that already controls over 100 acres in the JeffVanderLou, St. Louis Place and Old North St. Louis neighborhoods.

Mayor Slay North St. Louis Boosting Architectural Coverage? beat us to posting photos of the St. Louis Army Ammunition Plant undergoing remediation prior to demolition.