North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Old North

More From McKee on Historic Preservation

by Michael R. Allen

At a public meeting at Ames Elementary School last night in Old North St. Louis, Paul J. McKee, Jr. again discussed historic preservation for the NorthSide project.

Notable was a new figure for the number of legacy properties McEagle plans to rehabilitate. In a YouTube video on the developer’s website, McKee stated that 60 historic buildings would be preserved. Last night, he said that number could be as high as 85. He also stated that the Landmarks Association of St. Louis (my former employer) would receive a copy of that list. Will Landmarks, city preservation officials and neighborhood leaders also be able to shape that list?

McKee had told the St. Post-Dispatch that he planned to rehabilitate the Mullanphy Emigrant Home, which is owned by the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and targeted to be converted into a hostel by the Gateway Chapter of Hosteling International. Last night, he said simply that he would help the Restoration Group with the project if possible.

Another major concern for Old North was addressed: the fate of over 60 properties in that neighborhood owned by McKee’s companies but excluded from the boundaries of the NorthSide project. Board members of the Restoration Group asked what plans the developer has to sell those properties and prevent further deterioration to buildings.

McKee’s answer was vague: “Once we get through the development process with the city we get the [Distressed Areas Land Assemblage tax] credits approved by the state…I’ll be happy in the first quarter to sit down and dialogue about that with you.”

What if McKee does not get the credits? “You’ll be dealing with somebody other than me,” he said.

Demolition will move rapidly after city approval of a redevelopment agreement, if McKee’s plans hold true. McKee told the crowd that “within 18 months, anything that’s going to be wrecked is going to be wrecked.” According to the developer, half-destroyed houses like those this blog frequently covers cannot be demolished now due to state brownfield laws.

(I was unable to attend Monday’s meeting, so this report is derived from videos posted by Doug Duckworth on Random Talk.)