by Michael R. Allen
Blunt challenged about deals he wants to make – Virginia Young (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 19)
In an unusually specific resolution calling for a new version of the economic development omnibus bill he vetoed in July, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has called the Missouri Legislature back to a special session beginning Monday.
One of the sections of the bill that remains on the table is the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credits. In the new version, a land assembler — there are no meaningful provisions in the bill to guarantee development — would have to acquire a minimum of 50 acres within a 75 acre redevelopment area in order to receive a credit for 50% of land acquisition costs and 100% of interest, maintenance and demolition costs.
As rewritten, only one person in Missouri seems to qualify — developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. Republican leaders are calling the reduction in acreage requirements from 75 to 50 a big move that opens the possibility of competition, but the reality is that in an urban area where a city block is usually less than one acre 50 acres is nearly impossible. No matter, according to one legislator — McKee is a saint:
The sponsor, Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, Mo., said he believed the new proposal satisfies concerns that the program was designed for one man. Griesheimer added that McKee “ought to be nominated for sainthood” for investing in decaying areas of St. Louis.