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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blairmont's Holdings Mapped

Want to know where all of the infamous Blairmont holdings are?

Don't ask me.

Consult your map.

35 comments:

Urban Review said...

Nice job on the map. One must really wonder what they intend to do with all these sites scattered over such a wide area. Most developers these days don't like scattered-site development -- they like to consolidate into large tracts.

Still, if I were buying I'd look to the same area --- the efforts in Old North are great and the area is poised for a comeback. That is, unless land speculators & their elected friends prevent the area from reaching its full potential.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not as savvy on the nighborhood, but could you give a point of reference or a couple street names?

Lynn said...

tremendous work. Wow. Scary.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear anyone's view on what Blairmont is thinking. Do they have faith that the North Side is ready to boom and then they'll cash in? Are the building a portfolio to sell at a hefty profit? Will they develop the properties themselves? While I understand they may benefit from simply sitting on the properties for a while, ultimately their investment depends on change. The question is: what will the change be and who will initiate it?

Anonymous said...

Pretty easy folks...

LRA lots for sale: $1,500

Hilliker lots for sale: $500,000.

It's called investment, and they are positioning themselves for growth on the northside.

The most interesting thing to me about all of this is the dispersed nature of their investments.

Reading blogs, I had the impression they had some designs in the ONSL neighborhood.

But after reading the map, ONSL is one of their lowest concentrated areas.

They like all around the near northside.

In response to Urban Review's comment, think of it this way.

If anyone else wants to assemble a large tract for redevelopment, they'll have to buy out Blairmont's interests, at Blairmont's price.

Or be bought out by the city under eminent domain.

That is assuming you support the use of eminent domain.

Michael Allen said...

^

Pretty good analysis.

By the way, they have not purchased a single property from LRA, which is another way that they insulate themselves from scrutiny.

What would they own in ONSL if RHCDA had not formed their partnership with the neighborhood group? I bet they'd own a lot more there. They have pretty much purchased anything in ONSL that RHCDA/ONSLRG doesn't buy first. Their lack of properties there reflects the competition as well as the stronger market there.

Matt Fernandez said...

I knew they owned a lot, but that is just scary.

KM said...

Great map. I also need a few main street names or a point of reference... and I even live in the 'hood.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this. The ability to simply point to a physical representation of their work across a broad geographic area is an important step towards getting some recognition of Blairmont's efforts and explanation of an explanation of their ultimate intent. This really ought to be published, but alas Michael, you seem to be one of a few willing to keep digging on this. Please keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Are we sure that their intentions are bad? I would be more concerned if they were buying up concentrated blocks. That would mean it would be more likely that they are planning a suburban-type housing development.

As shown in the map, their holdings are spread out across a large area. How do we know that this isn't some sort of corporate version of what the Gills are doing with the Grove. Word got out about the Gills project and all of sudden people were raising their selling prices. Could Blairmont have seen the potential of this neighborhood and eyed the rising prices in places like Soulard? They can acquire more properties at a lower cost if they fly under the radar. Maybe they could do a better job of stabilization, but maybe they think that would give them away?

I'm not saying that they have the same intentions as the Gills, to save the neighborhood, etc. They are clearly motivated by profit, but are we sure that profit will be reaped by tearing all of the properties down, etc? That said, an eye should definetely be kept on them and keep up the good work!

I can't wait for the 14th street mall and North Market Place (and hopefully the Emigrant Mullanphy Home) to be finished. Maybe Blairmont will reveal rehab/development plans at such time (not counting on it).

Anonymous said...

I doubt Blairmont will reveal any development plans.

The guys behing this operation typically buy land for others.

Before that, call it pure speculative investment.

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

When you factor in LRA properties and certain other property ownership, the map gets more interesting.

All I'm sayin' is there is a big swath of Hebert over in StL Place where the ownership of parcels goes Blairmont affiliate, Blairmont affiliate, LRA, Pyramid, Pyramid, Blairmont affiliate.... all down the street. Curious.

Anonymous said...

Michael, thanks for the additional detail on the maps.

My sources at RHCDA claim that Blairmont has been unhelpful with the 14th Street Mall. They aren't interested in selling property that could become part of the revitalization in the area.

So I think the earlier analysis is correct--Blairmont will hold out, at the expense of the neighborhood and the City as a whole. Not very good neighbors. Take a look at the Clemens house and tell me they give a &$%@ about the City and the historic and architectural value of its resources. From the way they are hamstringing the 14th Street Mall, they obviously don't care about revitalizing.

Why don't they keep their speculating activities confined to cornfields in St. Charles?

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

I should also note that I discovered the aforementioned swath of Hebert when I was looking to report an unsecured vacant building on that block to the Citizens' Service Bureau.

I didn't even know that the violating building was Blairmont-owned, but given the fact that it was an unsecured vacant building obviously being deliberately neglected by its owners, it had to be Blairmont! Gee thanks, guys, you really make life better for us here!

Also:
"They can acquire more properties at a lower cost if they fly under the radar. "
Yeah, but it wouldn't change their price if they would keep their buildings boarded up (so that they wouldn't fucking burn down!), fence their buildings, or mow their lots once on a blue moon. Or keep the lot of the ex-Schnucks decently lit to make it safer at night. But no, they have chosen to neglect their properties in a way that only makes life worse for neighbors. That tells us that even if they have redevelopment plans, they think it's OK to drive down the quality of life for neighbors in the mean time to get what they want. That seems like a very bad intention to me.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked Barb Geisman about Blairmont?

There is no way something like this could happen without some support from inside of City Hall.

Anonymous said...

The comment of the last anony is ridiculous.

City Hall support is not necessary to buy and sell privately owned real estate.

It has already been pointed out that most (if not all) of Blairmont's holdings were not LRA- owned.

Geisman may know something about the acquisition activities of Blairmont folks, as may the aldermen for the wards involved, but there is little they can do to prevent it. It's a free market.

Code enforcement, that's an entirely different matter.

Anonymous said...

^

There are interesting coincidences that suggest City Hall is complicit:

1. Many properties purchased by Blairmont are purchased at Sheriff's sales without competing bids.

2. Eagle Realty does appraisal work for SLDC. (Conflict of interest?)

3. The Clemens House lawsuit was mysteriously dropped and the case file moved from the City Counselor's Office to the Mayor's Office.

4. The Public Administrator has deeded at least one property to a Blairmont entity.

Anonymous said...

To the conspiracy theorist:

There are interesting coincidences that suggest City Hall is complicit:

1. Many properties purchased by Blairmont are purchased at Sheriff's sales without competing bids.


This is not unusual.

2. Eagle Realty does appraisal work for SLDC. (Conflict of interest?)

Just because they perform appraisals for SLDC does not exclude them from buying and selling real estate for their own account.

3. The Clemens House lawsuit was mysteriously dropped and the case file moved from the City Counselor's Office to the Mayor's Office.

This is interesting. Any proof?

4. The Public Administrator has deeded at least one property to a Blairmont entity.

This is not unusual. The job of the Public Adminstrator is to dispose of the assets of those without other representatives. Many of the properties in the Blairmont map are owned by low income people with few assets at death. Generally speaking, a vacant lot or building in north city is a low value commodity. If Blairmont is buying up land in this area, it's not surprising they'd cross paths with Public Administrator.

Rather than looking for conspiracies, interested parties should be more actively involved in ensuring that vacant lots/tax sale properties are purchased by friendly buyers/developers.

Tom Duda said...

I love the snarky anonymous comments.

Michael Allen said...

One need not be a conspiracy theorist to observe that Blairmont's activities have drawn complaints from neighborhood groups over the last few years but only silence from aldermen and city officials.

Anonymous said...

Neighborhood meetings are a regular occurence in the 5th ward.

Has anyone officially asked the aldermen about the Blairmont situation?

Does she just wave off the inquiries?

And as far as anonymous snark, here's one for ya...

What's the difference between a straw buyer tying up land and LRA having a major inventory?

Bubbles said...

Will there be plantation homes in the new development Blairmont is buying for?

I could see young white professionals, worn out by a day at their downtown corporate job, coming home to a mini Clemens House replica with a white-columned veranda, and having a refreshing mint julep.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Candace M. said...

What's the difference between a straw buyer tying up land and LRA having a major inventory?

2 wrongs do not make a right.

Anonymous said...

Will there be plantation homes in the new development Blairmont is buying for?

I could see young white professionals, worn out by a day at their downtown corporate job, coming home to a mini Clemens House replica with a white-columned veranda, and having a refreshing mint julep.

Sounds pretty good to me.


Hilarious image!

What's the difference between a straw buyer tying up land and LRA having a major inventory?

2 wrongs do not make a right.


How can you say having an LRA inventory is a "wrong"? Most see it as a development opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Without dispute the condition Blairmont keeps their property in does drive down the quality of life for those who live in the near northside. As actions speak louder than words, it's easy to infer from this track record that whatever their intentions are, the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of those who call the near northside home matter don't count for much - whether the outcome is purely specuative, or an Amarit and Amy Gill type thing, or a wholesale clearing of land for an urban Winghaven. The dropping of the Clemens suit, and the wholesale reluctance of the city to enforce the law as it is applied to nuisance property also speaks bucket loads of repect for those who call the area home today. I mean if their intentions were good, why don't they pick up the trash? Why don't they board up the buildings and keep them secure from fire? Why don't they try to save the Brecht supply building, ANd why won't they respond to the approaches of local community development organizations to have some dialogue about whta their ultimate intentions are?

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought...

When facing an intractable nuisance property situation, some aldermen recommend filing a nuisance property lawsuit against the owner for damaging property value.

It takes some documentation on the front end and cooperation with neighbors, but there is a positive track record of success in other neighborhoods.

If residents and community organizations agree, why not try this approach?

Anonymous said...

"When facing an intractable nuisance property situation, some aldermen recommend filing a nuisance property lawsuit against the owner for damaging property value."

That is an idea, but would require resources for some legal representation. The Clemens suit, brought about by the city counselors office could be classified as just such a nuisance suit. Blairmont lawyers kept asking for and getting delays in the process, until the case was dropped by the city. I think the hope for many was that the suit would have been pursued and serve as a precedent for others. Utimately someone will have to step up to the plate to do this.

Anonymous said...

The city might decide to drop a suit, the neighbors would have their own legal process.

Resources? Yeah, resources are required.

How committed are folks to action?

Committed to the point of spending money?

Otherwise, it's all talk, and no action.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the Old North or JVL neighborhood groups file class-action nuisance suits?

One person shouldn't go this alone given who might be actually involved.

Anonymous said...

quote: "Why doesn't the Old North or JVL neighborhood groups file class-action nuisance suits? "


perhaps the good guys and the bad guys are on the same side.

Phil Valko said...

Regarding the last comment about the good guys and bad guys being one and the same: Absolutely not the case for the ONSL Restoration Group. The staff and board are very concerned about Blairmont's acquisition activity. 1/3 of the staff and the majority of the board live in ONSL. You better believe we're concerned when some faceless entity buys property, denies their involvement, and will not negotiate with either individual property owners looking to buy their back yard or the ONSLRG looking to acquire important parcels for the 14th Street Mall redevelopment.

Blairmont and affiliates have already impeded positive redevelopment activity in the area. The longer they sit on their property (whether they're purely speculators or planning to develop), the harder it is going to be to redevelop the area. Their crumbling holdings and overgrown lots will continue to get in the way of development activity that is being driven by the community.

Regarding the volume of anonymous comments on this blog: it is perfectly symptomatic of the entrenched politics and culture of control and fear in this city. I commend Michael and Claire for their transparency and I encourage all others to stand behind your voice.

Anonymous said...

Look Phil - anonymity shouldn't scare anyone. Message boards aren't about who's "man enough" to use their real name.

Anyway, I've heard some similar comments directed towards BJC/Wash U in the FPSE neighborhood. I've been told that they "land bank," purposely depress housing values and then demo everything. I understand how someone can think this, but I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I believe that Blairmont wants to make money and I believe that BJC/Wash U want to make money and stabilize the neighborhood that is so close to their sites. I don't fault either for making what I predict will be outstanding business decisions. Change can be painful, but is rarely undertaken in order to cause pain.

Anonymous said...

"Regarding the last comment about the good guys and bad guys being one and the same: Absolutely not the case for the ONSL Restoration Group. The staff and board are very concerned about Blairmont's acquisition activity. 1/3 of the staff and the majority of the board live in ONSL. "

I never said one and the same. Perhaps you should quote me directly. I said on the same side. One goal of ONSL is to improve property values. The goal of Blairmont is to make money. ONSL serves the needs of Blairmont and all they have to do is bank property. In fact, if the elusive principals of Blairmont have the political pull that has been suggested in earlier post, it would benefit their interest to use that influence to help approve grants that keep the staff of ONSL employed. Any influences over other non-profits involvement with ONSL and media coverage would benefit them as well. Though ONSL sees Blairmont as the enemy, I'm sure that Blairmont sees ONSL as free labor, the worker bees of Blairmont.

If you've been in St Louis for a while, you might remember when the Post did an article on the property in East St Louis. It listed 10 companies that owned 90% of the property there. It then gave statistic of how many of these properties burned each month. Shortly after this article the mayor of East St Louis couldn't get cooperation from the state and was tossed aside. A board of some kind was formed to run the city that included STL county officials and members representing the interest of Wash-U, St Louis U, and Webster University. I hesitate naming names because it was 15 years ago, but the facts are in print in the Post archives.

The point here is that I have witnessed the take over of a city in a neighboring state by investors in St Louis. This was done indirectly through politicians and educational facilities. The definition of conspiracy is:

con·spir·a·cy (kn-spîr-s) KEY

NOUN:
pl. con·spir·a·cies
An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
A group of conspirators.
Law An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas.

This is not a conspiracy. Not an illegal act. It's an abstract business practice that uses tactics similar to the military and is very efficient. It uses the motivation of (sometimes)naive, good hearted people to serve their needs, much in the same way that President Lincoln use the slavery platform to break the economy of the south.

Look, it all comes down to one's own reality. Reality is nothing more than perspective. ONSL has their reality, Blairmont has their reality, and each of the 1500 or so residents of the neighborhood have their own reality. It's funny to me when one 'group' sees their reality as being the one true 'good'.

From my perspective, bringing in investors (some from out of state) into the neighborhood does little good. It saves the buildings at the expense of the people. The goal(reality) of investors is to make money. Nothing serves this interest better than to displace the current residents and bring in a better class of people. So in my reality Blairmont and ONSL are on the same side. In fact Blairmont's role is passive in comparison..... Now go ahead and discredit me if you will, but that's the cool thing. In my reality I AM RIGHT. :)

As far as posting here anonymously.
It's easier. That's it. Don't read anything else into it. I get tired of signing up for things and keeping track of passwords and such. Call me lazy if you will.

-R U S S

Phil Valko said...

Thanks for the deep thoughts on anonymous comments, Anonymous.

This isn't about "manliness". Perhaps that is something that occupies your mind. This about transparency, community, and accountability. Everyone's favorite foe on the near-north side has absolutely NO accountability because they have been very good at remaining anonymous and close-lipped. I understand that there are various reasons why people choose to remain anonymous, including keeping their jobs. I certainly respect that. Nonetheless, this city desparately needs more transparency.

Stivel Velasquez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.