We've Moved

Ecology of Absence now resides at www.preservationresearch.com. Please change your links and feeds.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Develop With Dignity

The rancorous discussion about development on the near north side of St. Louis seems without end. Often, we residents seem stuck between a rock (current conditions, which we do need to overcome) and a hard place (Paul McKee's clandestine plans). Yet there is a better path than the status quo, which almost everyone will admit is not leading to enough development to transform our area, or a totally privatized plan, which could wipe out large parts of what we call home.

Develop With Dignity is a coalition working to achieve a balanced vision. The group of north side churches, organizations, businesses and individuals have offered a clear set of positive principles for guiding future development:

1. Engage area residents and their elected officials in formulating a redevelopment plan.

2. No use of eminent domain on owner occupied property.

3. Maintain current properties so they do not become a nuisance or a danger to the community.

4. Every consideration must be given to developing diverse communities.

These are simple and direct statements of what residents expect in future development. The principles cut through the mess of what McKee does or does not have planned with a platform for development that does not displace. we will have many heated discussions about the scope and form of new development, but we first need to set base standards for process.

At a community meeting last night, Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin (D-5th) stated that she endorses these principles. Many organizations have already signed on, from Sts. Teresa and Bridget Parish to North Grand Neighborhood Services to St. Louis Crisis Nursery. Here is a working coalition for consensus-based decision-making. Some residents who have met privately with Paul McKee have reported that even he has been favorable to the principles, although he has not signed on. What if he did? Or what if Mayor Francis Slay signed on? What kind of dialog about development could we then start?

Please consider signing on yourself: www.developwithdignity.org


Al said...

I think you have it backwards. The "hard place" would, I think, be the current conditions (denoting stationary, extant situation). The "rock" would be McKee's plans (denoting a newly introduced hard thing to the existing situation).

I'm just sayin.

Doug Duckworth said...

I love it how a suburban McDonald's can be cause for recall on the South Side while violation of Federal Law and rampant corruption isn't on the North Side.

barbara_on_19th said...

Al, the current conditions are not stationary. I live on the 3200 double-block of North 19th St. Two years ago, this stretch included me, one other single resident, and one live/work set-up for a couple that runs an auto repair business. Three total. Two years later, this same stretch includes 2 new apartments, a newly rehabbed home, two more rehabs in progress, and the last 2 viable vacant buildings being looked at by interested buyers.

If you would like a tour of this area to see for yourself, give me a call. Who knows, you might fall in love with a 100-yo building yourself and join in!

Barbara Manzara

GMichaud said...

While it certainly be a step in the right direction if McKee was to sign on, the issue is so involved that he has much more to do to prove himself at this point. Meanwhile the city is slipping in credibility by letting him get away with major property maintenance violations.

All in all it appears the standing in the community McKee has attained over the years is bought and not earned. Certainly his actions in North St. Louis to this point are less than stellar.

What is odd that he does not seem to understand that if handled in a humane and intelligent way he could be a hero of the people, and probably make boat loads of money to boot.
Instead he wallows in this public relations nightmare along with the Mayor who,under the advisement of his misdirected aids, are all headed for a Faustian development deal with the devil.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how blogosphere regulars interact in an old fashioned, community organizing situation. Old school meet new school.

samizdat said...

This country doesn't worship any god but M-O-N-E-Y. I feel like vomitting every instance I read about a businessperson who is often referred to as "a pillar of the community", a "good Christian" or such like drivel, but who in fact would sell his/her mother into slavery if the the return on his/her investment was sufficient enough to cover the fleeting pangs of conscience he/she may feel. Paul Mckee, in my view, is just such a person. Mayor Slay follows closely in his footsteps, acting much as Tony Blair the Poodle did for that war criminal George W. Bush. Slay is nothing more than a glorified water-carrier for Mckee & Co, debasing the rule of law and shaming his office and making of himself an embarrasment to the City.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy. We have a lot of people upset at something they in no way understand. Some people have no dog in the fight and are sticking their noses in for ego driven purposes. I personally cannot blame the Mayor for anything because he has down nothing wrong. I cannot blame the aldermwoman because she has done nothing wrong. I can blame these "community leaders" because they allowed the neighborhood to deteriate to this level. Do I like McKee? No. Is he wrong? Unfortunately, no again. I don't understand blaming others for our own failures.

Chris said...

They don't do much right either.

Anonymous said...

I think there will be about as much agreement over this situation as we'll see in the whole Obama/McCain campaign. Anybody got some popcorn?

Doug Duckworth said...

The mayor and alderperson are directly responsible. Given the weak mayor form of government, most of the responsibility falls on April-Ford Griffin. However Slay lobbied strongly for DALATC.

Joshua said...

As sad as it sounds guys, we can fight as long as we want, but this project will go down. Like Doug has said before its just modern day Negro removal, but its not unique to St. Louis because it happens all over, especially on the so called liberal coasts (where poor people have been effectively priced out of cities like San Fran and Boston). Its all politics, its all money, its all American. As far as the historical architecture, don't think for one minute Paul McKee doesn't know the worth of those homes. He will rehab the ones that are still standing once he gets all the poor people out and then implement New Town like urbanism to compliment the original built environment. As far as mixed housing, don't hold your breath guys.. the point is to remove the poor folks (Those old historical rowhouses are priceless, McKee knows this thats why the ones that can be saved will be a premium). Although we get on these politicians for being incompetent, neither Slay or McKee are idiots. There are powers that be that want to take the city "back" and they know that the easiest way to attract money is to force out the underprivileged, which is unfortunately what they have to do in North St. Louis. Lets use common sense guys, with the downtown revitalization, ONSL success (which McKee all of a sudden backing out of this area),the McKinley Bridge bike path, plans of a North-Southside Metro line coming with federal funds, Historical Tax Credits, 4 dollar gas, etc. etc. It was only a matter of time before gentrification was going to take place in North St. Louis. With the new Mississippi River Bridge being constructed in less than 10 years, the property will be worth to much. So McKee is purchasing it now while its poor ghetto property, he might even sell the property off in segments once the property values go through the roof after the ONSL revitalization is finished and the new bridge and bike paths are finished. I predict the near North St. Louis area being a completely different place in 10 years with gentrification creeping further north.

Chris said...

This project is no more guaranteed to happen than Ballpark Village, Skyhouse, the Bottle District or any other dozen failed projects St. Louis has floated over the years.