landbanking North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Blairmont’s Big Money: For Speculation or Development?

by Michael R. Allen

According to deeds of trust filed with the city Recorder of Deeds, the three active Blairmont companies — Sheridan Place LC, MLK 3000 LLC and Dodier Investors LLC — financed $1,102,800 worth of real estate purchases between January 16 and January 23. This total represents only eight transactions in Old North St. Louis, St. Louis Place and JeffVanderLou.

Among the properties are the Ackermann Auto Repair building at 1514 N. 13th Street north of the Brecht Butcher Supply Company buildings, two small houses in the 3000 block of Montgomery Street, a string of vacant lots and one old tenement building in the 3000 block of Thomas Street, a house on the 2600 block of Howard Street and some vacant lots on 25th Street. Besides the Ackermann property, none of these seem to be worth the amounts of the deeds of trust — at least on the current market.

To think that such money would be invested in pure landbanking seems folly. Why would these entities and their backers pay over one million dollars for a week’s worth of purchases including vacant lots in JeffVanderLou and deteriorated flats? Where would the eventual payoff come?

The more likely scenario is that there is a firm master development plan for the near northside and that the people putting money into these acquisitions have confident that their plan will allow them a return, with profit. Selling these properties to other developers on a piecemeal basis seems to offer no real guarantee of a return. Likely, the properties in Old North and on major streets would be cherry-picked, leaving the other properties to be sold at less than the acquisition cost or retained.

While I know nothing of the motives behind Blairmont’s owners, I do think that I am safe to assume that these people would not invest over one million dollars simply to buy property on speculation. Their effort is relentless, as the amount of transactions and capital flow they reported in the last week shows. The companies probably own nearly 500 properties to date, an impressive feat that suggests there is a more serious effort at work than just making money off of money.