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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Strange Purchases on the Near Northside -- Is There a Plan?

On October 13, the city recorded the quit-claim transfer of a sliver of property on Cass Avenue just east of the Greyhound station from Iron Horse Resources of O'Fallon, Illinois to Noble Development Company LLC. This parcel is the tunnel approach section of the right-of-way of the former Illinois Terminal Railroad's electric interurban railroad.

The interurban ceased its runs in the 1950s, and this right-of-way has been vacant ever since. Currently, the section of the interurban line that ran on an elevated trestle to the McKinley Bridge is being converted into a trail. The "tunnel" section under Tucker Boulevard will be filled in by the city so that improvements can be made to Tucker.

Noble Development Company LLC is, of course, part of the "Blairmont" family of real estate companies. Supposedly a great mystery to city officials, these companies have a great knack for purchasing property that is strategic to various public works initiatives or urban planning projects. I find it very difficult to fathom that city leaders would let a parcel like the old Terminal Railroad right-of-way section slip through their fingers when it is needed for two large projects that are underway.

Is it possible that the transfer of the land to Noble Development Company was a result sought by someone in city government and that the mysterious company is holding the parcel and others in accord with a master plan for the near northside? I'm not sure, but it seems possible. Until city leaders address the strange property acquisition pattern of these companies, people are going to be led to such conclusions.

Hopefully, rehabbers and business owners on the near northside will stand their ground and avoid panic as rumors float. What a shame that as Old North St. Louis gains development traction the Blairmont scheme emerges without comment from the mayor or others who could instill confidence.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

LRA and TRRA still control 30 times as much land to the southwest of this sliver. On the east, Schnucks controls 191 times as much land. IOW, this half-acre sliver at 1116 Cass Avenue is landlocked by others with much more site control than any rumored Blairmont-machine.

Michael Allen said...

Blairmont owns the former Schnucks site, though.

mr. buffet said...

Based on the LRA connections of one of Blarimont's key lackeys, it is significant when Blairmont owns adjacent to LRA property.

Anonymous said...

Well then, maybe it's site assembly for redevelopment of the Cass Schnuck's. Redevelopment of this largest sea of asphalt on the near-northside, even if it means demolition of the non-historic structure, would likely be a very good thing.

Andrew J. Faulkner said...

Built St. Louis has some site photographs:

Andrew J. Faulkner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The plan seems to be landbanking.

If it were development, wouldn't McKee be proud of it and take credit?

Then again, with the Highway 40 reconstruction set to start, he may be wanting to wait for that project to be complete before trying to get people interested in this site.

If that's the case, anticipate some sort of "main entrance" from Highway 40 up Jefferson into the development zone.

The stuff in ONSL probably won't be part of any big project. That's stuff to bank for rehab after RHCDA gets 14th street up and running. Funny how the millionaire is making the nonprofit take the biggest risk!