Massive Redevelopment In The Works In St. Louis

Developer Paul McKee has secretly assembled 500 acres of land in north St. Louis, and recently unveiled a plan that includes 4 and a half million sq. ft. of new office and retail and 10,000 new homes.

"New streets and sewers. Parks and a trolley line. Even its own power grid.

This is what McKee envisions over the next 15 years across roughly 500 acres on the city's north side. Nothing less than a wholesale rebirth of a swath of St. Louis that hasn't seen much new life in decades.

"If our city is going to be great again," McKee said, "it's got to come from here."

The developer, head of McEagle Properties, sat down with the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday and laid out some of his ideas for the land, which his company has spent five years and $46 million secretly and not so secretly assembling.

It was McKee's most public discussion yet of his goals, and comes a week before he intends to ask the city to provide "hundreds of millions" of dollars in financing to get the project off the ground."

Full Story: McKee lays out vision for massive north St. Louis redevelopment



Redevelopment leads to severe growing pains

For more information on this project consult the TIF application here.

Any discussion of this project must note that the land assemblage process has been extremely painful and resulted in the forced relocation of hundreds of residents and the rapid decline of several neighborhoods due to a demolition by neglect philosophy on the part of McKee. Phenomena such as "brick rustling" and a wave of arson have notably plagued McKee's properties resulting in building stock greatly diminished in condition over the past five years.

In contrast to the situations surrounding Mr. McKee's redevelopment stands the amazing revitalization of the adjacent Old North St. Louis neighborhood. This community-based redevelopment has been called reminiscent of the recovery of Dudley Street in Boston.

While all residents welcome redevelopment the contrast between the two adjacent development strategies are stark. Legitimate concerns arise from the continued lack of accountability of Mr. McKee to neighborhood stakeholders, an absolute lack of citizen participation in the process, and a woeful lack of regulation by local government over Mr. McKee's development.

Despite the current situation, a number of citizen groups are pushing to make the redevelopment an exercise in legitimate participatory planning. Immediate goals include the linkage of phased TIF funding to real and objective performance guidelines, the preservation of the existing french-plat street grid, the legislation of the development according to the principles of form-based zoning, the incorporation of quantifiably sustainable urban design, and the prohibition of eminent domain on currently occupied properties.

There will be a meeting this Thursday, June 4th to begin this process and all planning professionals interested in assisting are invited to attend.
June City Affair: NorthSide Redevelopment [facebook]

Andrew J. Faulkner
M. Arch/M.U.D. Washington University 2009.

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