by Michael R. Allen
Paul J. McKee Jr.’s north side holding companies own somewhere between 100-400 acres of the JeffVanderLou, St. Louis Place and Old North St. Louis neighborhoods — not over 1,000 as has been often stated. That’s just bad math with no source.
However, 100 acres is a huge amount of land in an urban area. The two largest vacant sites in the city are the 40-acre Carondelet Coke site at the southeast corner of the city and the 33-acre Pruitt-Igoe site near the intersection of Cass and Jefferson avenues. Those sites are just about the right size for large urban development.
Perhaps the urban land acquisition tax credits now part of the pending Quality Jobs Act in the Missouri legislature could have reduced the minimum size from 75 acres to 30, with a cap of 75 acres. That seems like a reasonable change given the confusion and fear over the size of McKee’s project. That range would guarantee smaller projects where community consensus would be easier to build. McKee’s assemblage effort shows the difficulty of achieving consensus for projects on the scale that he apparently envisioned when he started.