Saturday, February 11, 2012
City Should Not Sell McKee ANY More Buildings!
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.