Saturday, February 11, 2012

City Should Not Sell McKee ANY More Buildings!

1930 St. Louis.jpg
1930-36 St. Louis Avenue as it appeared just prior to purchase by McKee

This morning the Post-Dispatch reported that Paul McKee wants to buy an additional 1,233 parcels of City owned property in the NorthSide area where he already owns about 800 parcels containing vacant land and vacant buildings. According to the Post article by Tim Logan, the land includes individual vacant lots and buildings scattered across McKee's NorthSide redevelopment area. McKee's past purchases indicate that the presence of structures regardless of historic value, is of little consequence to the desire to control the land.


1930-36 St. Louis Avenue under the stewardship of Paul McKee

Over the last 7+ years, Paul McKee with his pocket full of LLCs has proven to be one of the most notorious landlords in St. Louis history, leaving a wake of negligence and destruction of historic buildings. As has been well documented by Preservation Research Office/Ecology of Absence, Built St. Louis and others, the typical scenario of a buildings acquisition and control by McKee involves the emptying of any tenants, the mysterious disappearance of windows and doors, leaving the properties vulnerable to vandalism, fires, brick theft and eventually total demolition.

This unique row at St. Louis and Glasgow Avenues was also fully intact prior to purchase by McKee.

Although they do not offer much protection and they don't have any tenants (legally), the City's Land Reutilization Authority at least makes a valid attempt to keep their buildings boarded and secured. While brick thieves have not spared LRA properties, keeping the areas scattered remaining vacant building stock in the ownership of the City at least theoretically preserves the opportunity for other developers or individuals to purchase and rehab the properties. Of course this would require changes to some current LRA policies, but the chances would probably be better than getting McKee to let go of buildings. A great examples of this potential is currently underway with the Hyde Park South development.


The rear of the St. Louis & Glasgow buildings after prior to demolition in 2008.

McKee can have as much vacant land (or even buildings with no historic value) as he wants, but until concrete plans and financing are presented by McKee, the City should retain ownership and control over the fragile fabric of vacant historic homes that dot the landscape of NorthSide.


Adam W. said...

this city is cursed with generation after generation of incompetent leaders, destined to commit the same short-sighted, destructive, self-serving mistakes into perpetuity. or until they've made STL such a miserable, character-less place that even the most die-hard urbanists/preservationists/STL-lovers leave out of hopelessness. the shear scope of this north-side bullsh*t overshadows much of the progress that's been made over the last several years. ugh... feeling bleak today.

samizdat said...

Uh, what he said...

I can't help but notice the ever-increasing signs of decay in the City...but then again, said decay seems to be overtaking nearly every town, burgh, hamlet, village, and cities large and small all over the country. For lease/rent signs on too much vacant industrial space, commercial and retail buildings...I think you're feeling bleak, because things do in fact appear bleak. Funny thing, I was writing this as Billie Holiday was singing "When You're Smiling", a fairly popular song from the first Great Depression. Ironic.

Adam W. said...

yeah, but it's not just the vacancies. it's all the back-scratching that goes on amongst the great white fathers. it's their disdain for and exclusion of us "common folk" in their quests to be labeled "savior of St. Louis" (re all the offers the LRA rejected so they could hoard land for McKee). it's their (deliberate?) obliviousness of how many times these land-clearing, silver-bullet mega-projects have failed and how much damage they've done to the city. it's just seems their either incredibly naive or incredibly crooked. or maybe i'm the one that's naive, but whatever they've been doing for the past six decades isn't working.

Adam W. said...

a couple of things:

1) on second thought, i'm not even sure they care about being seen as saviors. they might just be trying to further their political careers or fill their pockets. sorry, i'm a cynic.

2) "it just seems their either..." should be "it just seems they're either...". obviously. :) (and yes i know punctuation technically goes inside the quotes but i think that's stupid so i don't do it.)

Chris said...

There's plenty of people besides "white fathers" helping to ruin our city...

samizdat said...


And Adam W., I believe cynicism can often be just another form of skepticism. Either that, or us cynics are just less blind to, and less influenced by the fetid nostrums said pols and swells are wont to spread around like so much manure. I suppose that being a self-aggrandizing whore can really pay off.

W. White said...

Has anyone ever tried purchasing any property from the LRA? I have combed through their property listings before and been amazed at the great houses available for $1,000. How much success would a non-millionaire (a.k.a. a 99%-type person) like myself have in purchasing any of these properties? The $1,000 (or even $2,000 or $4,000) would not be an issue, I just wonder what they consider to be sufficient funds required for someone to acquire the property (and in my case, restore, not renovate or demolish).

Anonymous said...

If the pictures above are there to sell the fact that North City is a beautiful place your doing a terrible job. Noone goes to north city and never will until private investors such as McKee do something about it. The city has owned these properties for decades AND WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH THEM? We all should be praising this guy as he actually is trying to fix one of the worst ghettos in the country. The city should GIVE all of their land to him.

Chef John Bauer said...

McKee will not be able to get anything else when Slay stops him. It would be nice if our mayor noticed that the longer and longer he allows people to buy property and let it fall to ruin he will make St. louis become more and more of a slum, instead of lining his wallet.