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.

Missouri Legislature North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Ask Your State Senator About the Griesheimer Amendment

by Michael R. Allen

No St. Louisan that I know has seen the text of Sen. John Griesheimer‘s amendment to the Quality Jobs Act (SB 282), scheduled for consideration by the Economic Development, Tourism & Local Government Committee on Wednesday. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the amendment would create a $100 million subsidy for land acquisition related to development projects larger than 75 acres in the city of St. Louis. The amendment also has the backing of Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, who is credited with making the proposal.

Supposedly, the subsidy is sought by a St. Charles County developer for a project in north St. Louis. While this developer knows about the amendment, neither my state senator nor my alderperson knows a thing about a proposal with huge ramifications for the city of St. Louis and its residents.

We need to know exactly what is being proposed — and why it is being proposed hastily without input from St. Louisans. A program like the one proposed potentially could be beneficial to the city, with proper input from seasoned urban developers, citizens and St. Louis elected officials.

City residents, please contact your state senators:

Harry Kennedy, D-1st: (573) 751-2126
Jeff Smith, D-4th: (573) 751-3599
Maida Coleman, D-5th: (573) 751-2606

You can send email using this form.

Also, here are the current members of the Economic Development, Tourism & Local Government Committee:

John Griesheimer, R-26th, Chair: (573) 751-3678
Chris Koster, R-31st, Vice-chair: (573) 751-1430
Jason Crowell, R-27th: (573) 751-2459
Kevin Engler, R-3rd: (573) 751-3455
Jack Goodman, R-29th: (573) 751-2234
Carl Vogel, R-6th: (573) 751-2076
Victor Callahan, D-11th: (573) 751-3074
Harry Kennedy, D-1st: (573) 751-2126
Ryan McKenna, D-22nd: (573) 751-1492
Wes Shoemyer, D-18th: (573) 751-7852

Again, emails can be sent using this form.

Lt. Gov. Kinder can be contacted at (573) 751-4727 or

Missouri Legislature North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Blight Proposal Being Rushed In State Senate

by Michael R. Allen

Tax subsidy backer cites St. Louis blight – Virginia Young (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 8)

Imagine the possibility of a massive state-backed subsidy for large-scale urban revitalization in St. Louis.

Bet you don’t imagine it being spearheaded by senators from St. Charles County, arriving in a hurry with little warning and with almost no knowledge of the proposal among St. Louis development insiders.

What could be carefully-crafted, responsible policy seems to be rushed and made without the insights of those with the experience at the “tough sledding” of development work in depressed parts of St. Louis.

With some refinement, such a policy proposal might be appropriate. At the moment, the proposal raises concerns in St. Louis.

Downtown Infrastructure Missouri Legislature Streets

Despite Some Flaws, MoDESA is Good for St. Louis

by Michael R. Allen

I’m definitely a supporter of the Missouri Downtown [and Rural] Economic Stimulus Act (MoDESA), which permits cities to take up to 50 percent of both state sales taxes and state withholding taxes generated by new development projects. The law gives cities up to 25 years to continue using this share of state taxes, and restricts use to infrastructure needs.

As someone who works downtown and who has been walking the streets of downtown since I was a child, I am excited at the prospect for infrastructure improvements downtown. Beyond Washington Avenue, most downtown streets could use anything from repaving to new sidewalks. All of downtown could stand new street, consistent lighting — the current distribution of new, fancier lights around new projects gives the appearance that the city doesn’t feel that the basics are important for all of downtown. Much of downtown infrastructure has deteriorated past the point of acceptability.

Of course, the city has not had the means to make big repairs. Much of downtown’s current infrastructure dates to 1950’s-era projects that were built when the city still had a residential population of around 856,000 people. The sort of public works consistency possible with that tax base is a distant memory nowadays, although completely necessary to attract new residents and business owners — and retain existing ones.

MoDESA is akin to the State Historic Tax Credit in that it levels things financially for older areas of great cultural importance that have special economic troubles that may otherwise be exceedingly difficult to address. Like tax credits, the MoDESA money is not a subsidy but an allowance to apply revenue generated in these areas to improvement projects — and since it applies to any area in the state that matches certain criteria, it doesn’t unfairly benefit cities or small towns. It just gives them some help.

There are political problems with using the money, and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has already made moves that are suspect. For instance, the first MoDESA project was originally going to be based entirely on projects by the Pyramid Companies, and was revised to include one other project by another developer. However, this proposal will target the desolate Tucker Boulevard streetscape for improvements — long overdue.

A disappointing move on the Mayor’s part is his appointment of the local authority to oversee the MoDESA money. There are nine voting members and two non-voting members, including the mayor. The roster of the mayor’s eight appointments consists entirely of longtime political players, five of whom are members of city development boards, one of whom works for St. Louis University, and one of whom is Downtown St. Louis Partnership head Jim Cloar. Most glaring is the absence of a single downtown resident. Isn’t this the mayor who mentions downtown residents in every speech about development in the city?

MoDESA, however, is a good thing for the city and state despite the expected flaws in its application.