State Representatives Jeanette Oxford and Jamilah Nasheed and Alderwomen April Ford-Griffin and Marlene Davis distributed a version of this document at a press conference on August 16, 2007.
What we know about the Blairmont companies
Paul J. McKee, Jr., is a developer who is chairman of McEagle Properties LLC (636-561-9300), a company specializing in large-scale planned mix-use developments, including Winghaven in St. Charles County. McEagle has never undertaken a project in the city of St. Louis. McKee is also vice chairman of BJC Healthcare, board member of Enterprise Bank & Trust Company and a board member of the National Privatization Council.
The first of McKee’s north side holding companies was incorporated in June 2002. Ten separate companies acquiring property in the Near North Side have been traced to McKee: Blairmont Associates LC, VHS Partners LLC, Sheridan Place LC, N&G Ventures LC, Noble Development Company LLC, MLK 3000 LLC, Allston Alliance LC, Dodier Investors LLC, Babcock Resources LC and Path Enterprise Company LLC. McKee’s companies are represented by Eagle Realty Company (314-421-1111).
An unprecedented scale of acquisitions
Purchases began in June 2003 and continue to this day. The total number of parcels in north St. Louis owned by these companies was 662 at the end of June 2007. The companies own property on over 150 different blocks.
The holding companies has purchased land from private individuals and churches as well as the Board of Education. His companies have not purchased land from the city government. Early purchases consisted largely of vacant properties, but most purchases since 2006 have involved occupied houses. In February 2007 McKee stated he was only interested in acquiring “abandoned buildings in the unpopulated areas of north St. Louis.” Since that statement, he has continued to purchase occupied buildings.
Neighborhoods affected include all of Old North St. Louis, all of St. Louis Place and most of JeffVanderLou. The project includes most of the 5th Ward, a significant section of the 19th Ward and a small number of scattered parcels in the 3rd and 6th wards of the city of St. Louis. The project lies within the 58th and 60th Missouri Legislative Districts as well as in the 5th Missouri Senatorial District.
The properties are located within the boundaries of three national historic districts (Murphy-Blair, Mullanphy, Clemens House-Columbia Brewery) and include properties that contribute to at least two potential historic districts.
A record of neglect
The holding companies only purchase vacant properties, insisting that tenants in occupied buildings be evicted prior to sales.
The holding companies have failed to maintain his properties, causing city government to spend over $260,000 since 2004 to maintain their properties (the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the companies still owe $37,000 of this figure to the city). These properties have been cited for hundreds of healthy and safety code violations, and one of his companies was even sued by the Building Division. Many are located adjacent to rehabilitated or newly-constructed homes, and homeowners have repeatedly complained about adverse affects. In some cases, Blairmont owns one or two vacant properties on blocks that are full of occupied buildings or near elementary schools (Ames and Columbia).
A record of secrecy
McKee’s companies have yet to release plans, concepts or ideas about any planned development to the public, or to the aldermen who represent the affected area. While surrounding his plans with secrecy, he is asking for one of the largest tax credits in Missouri history to subsidize continued purchases. After residents of north St. Louis uncovered McKee’s identity, he issued a public statement saying that he was “surprised that citizens wanted to broadcast who was behind the acquisitions” that have damaged their communities. Despite recent attention, Paul McKee still refuses to directly answer questions from the press and elected officials about his plans.
Impediment to development
The holding companies tie up an inventory of neglected historic buildings that they are unwilling to sell to interested potential homeowners. Holdings are often located adjacent to properties that are being renovated. Significant rehabilitation work is underway in Old North St. Louis and St. Louis Place in particular, where remaining buildings are difficult to find for future home and business owners. Properties owned by McKee are preventing people from investing in the future of these areas. Vacant properties generate minimal tax revenue and economic activity, while rehabbed buildings create immediate economic impact.
1. McEagle Properties website, http://www.mc-eagle.com/experience/people.asp
2. List of Blairmont Companies, http://www.eco-absence.org/blairmont/companies.htm
3. Land Record, Office of the Recorder of Deeds, City of St. Louis.
4. Michael Allen, “McKee’s Holdings Ready for Development,” http://ecoabsence.blogspot.com/2007/07/mckees-holdings-ready-for-development.html
5. Lisa Brown, “Evolution of the ‘CAVE man’,” St. Louis Business Journal, February 16, 2007.
6. Jake Wagman, “Developer pays city to ‘treat’ eyesores,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 30, 2007.
7. Jake Wagman, “Manor with murky ties to Twain is a mess,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 24, 2005.
8. Lisa Brown, “Evolution of the ‘CAVE man’,” St. Louis Business Journal, February 16, 2007.