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Monday, October 6, 2008

Mayor Slay States Principles for Near North Side Redevelopment

Per St. Louis Patina, here is part of a letter from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin (D-5th) that Ford-Griffin read at a rally held Saturday at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Roman Catholic Church:

I strongly support more private investment in the 5th ward as long as it creates quality jobs and improves the quality of life for the people who live in the 5th ward.

Any development must reflect the ward's diversity. It would be beneficial if it includes both affordable housing and market rate housing.

Any major redevelopment plan will not go forward until and unless there is public input, which includes open dialogue among the developers, the residents and elected officials.

I will not support eminent domain for owner occupied properties.

I will not support a redevelopment plan that does not have community support expressed through the community's elected representatives.

I will oppose Old North St. Louis being part of a major redevelopment plan unless the residents want to be included.

My administration will not sell LRA holdings as part of a major redevelopment plan unless the community supports the plan through their elected representatives.

Anyone who owns property in the 5th ward must take care of it by meeting codes to ensure public safety and health.


The mayor's words echo statements by Develop With Dignity, Neighbors for Social Justice, Alderwoman Ford-Griffin, leaders of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, urbanist bloggers and even Paul McKee. There now seems to be consensus on some basic parts of redevelopment of the near north side neighborhoods that have attracted so much attention in the past three years. I'm amazed at how many different parties are saying similar things. Of course, the next step is figuring out details of redevelopment and moving past sweeping statements. We have come a long way in the process but there is a long way to go. Hopefully, Slay's letter indicates that city government is ready to show leadership in facilitating the dialogue needed to move things forward.

11 comments:

Chris said...

At the bare minimum, we can at least say he broke his word now if he changes his mind.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Slay is being true to the aldermanic roots from which he sprang. The development policies expressed by Mayor Slay are very similar to what you'd hear in most city wards - north, south, or central.

The beauty of this is, of course, that while academically trained urban planners may decry our parochial form of decision making, we do have our own unique form of community based planning and development.

Perhaps our antiquated system is community development in its truest sense?

barbara_on_19th said...

A lot of credit for this development goes to Sheila Rendon in St Louis Place, Neighbors for Social Justice, for starting up a movement to put pressure on the Mayor to clarify his position. It is not a coincidence that this letter was given to April in the run-up to this weekend's successful Northside Unity rally. Notice, however, that he does not mention the desires of the St Louis Place neighbors as particularly important in the ("no really, we haven't seen the plan!") planned development, just the ONSL neighbors. April Ford-Griffin has shown herself to be a strong and principled supporter of the most heavily affected residents, despite having to go out on a political limb to maintain her anti-McKee stance. I was skeptical at first, but she has earned my vote.

AslanLivesNow said...

I am definitely in support of anybody, somebody, coming to the northside and making improvements. We need help! I find it ironic that OLD NORTH hosts a development fair on September 20th engaging people to come out and take a look at what there is to offer on one hand, but shutting out a Paul McKee on the other hand. I find it schizophrenic. Crazy, typical St. Louis. I had some guests in the other day and their response was DEVESTATION when we drove the North side. It's always, "WHO DROPPED THE BOMB?"

There is so much work to be done, that there is more than enough to go around and collectively, working together we all win. The bottom line is how are we going to bring JOBS, not just fast food jobs, but JOBS that individuals can raise a family on to the community? We must have a mix, it must be diverse. We can no longer be emotional on the north side and whine then complain. Has anyone taken Economics 101. Why don't we march against the plight, blight and hardships, Pay Day Loan, Car Title Loan and Rental places do to our community.

Let's get the politicking out of the way and make some positive things happen "COLLECTIVELY".

Truth is also liberating, these conditions have existed long before a Paul McKee, let's talk 40 years in the making. A McKee, individuals buying LRA PROPERTY, Habitat for Humanity, or whosoever will, desirous of OWNING, BUILDING, REBUILDING homes in north St. Louis can't move fast enough for me. In my opinion, some of the self serving Alderman, I said some, simply want to keep the residents subservient and beholding to them.

We need new, rehabbed and developed homes like yesterday! Development can't come fast enough for me...a life long north side resident.

Jackson said...

The beauty of this is, of course, that while academically trained urban planners may decry our parochial form of decision making, we do have our own unique form of community based planning and development.

Perhaps our antiquated system is community development in its truest sense?


Hell no. Our system is why the McKe eproject has turned into a clusterf-ck and why he has had to "pay the piper" to some people who couldn't manage a Taco Bell if their lives depended on it.

Our system is why it will take ten years to rehab the Mullanphy using donations while the alderperson sits on block grant money that could easily pay for full rehab.

Our system is why Old North and McKee have had terrible meetings. Too many jerks get in the way.

Anonymous said...

Would you rather see block grant money go to the Mullanphy building or rebuilding the 14th Street Mall area?

And don't say "both", because there isn't enough money to do everything, and people have to make choices.

Old North picked the Mall area as a strategic priority. The city is putting big bucks into that effort, with the Mayor's and alderman's support.

So how is it that the system is a clusterf*ck and not working? Old North is doing better than huge parts of St. Louis.

Doug Duckworth said...

"Perhaps our antiquated system is community development in its truest sense?"

No. This may apply when a community exists, capable of enumerating or enacting their own will. But when areas are severely divested, largely devoid of stable centers of employment, then it's a rather ridiculous notion.

Who expects impoverished individuals to organize regarding zoning without the resources from central government in City Hall? Those residents who are involved would rather simply bulldoze for a Walgreens. Absent of a catalyst that compels organization and the potential for review of new ideas -- like the McKee Crisis -- they will continue their daily lives. The situational imperative is to survive.

So it's quite hypocritical for Slay to say to the 5th Ward "come up with your own idea." That's what he indicates when he says "I will not support a redevelopment plan that does not have community support expressed through the community's elected representatives." He wants voters to forget that his Administration made this possible. Now he's putting the burden of this mess upon residents.

Mayoral Leadership means recognizing that this area has seen enough abuse -- and shouldn't be expected to sit with McKee alone, which includes placing the burden of this plan upon the areas affected. One cannot apply the same "local control" rubric. Mayor Slay should take responsibility for his actions and leadership on the "plan."

But, due to our fragmented aldermanic political system, he has no incentive to do so, especially with the approaching election. It's up to the 5th Ward, not his Administration. Yet, ironically, I don't believe 5th Ward residents lobbied in Jefferson City for this plan.

Slay simply avoided controversial hot button terms like Eminent Domain. With this statement we have no vision or substance. Slay does not say that he would oppose widescale demolition, rather he simply indicates "...creates quality jobs and improves the quality of life..." These are the same terms used to justify Negro Removal and Public Housing.

When the Administration does not take a deliberative, active role, I don't see how furthering these policies will improve the quality of life for 5th Ward Residents. They were not included from the beginning.

I also find the idea of demolition and eviction for Office Parks quite ironic. Do we have to evict someone, via blockbusting, simply to provide them a job? I believe we have plenty of buildings or vacant lots on North Broadway, with easy access both Highway 70 and surrounding African American neighborhoods, which could serve industrial uses and the local job market.

What we have here can only be called business as usual. But that's Slay's situational imperative: act like Richard Daley behind the scenes and when he gets caught feign weak Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Any Alderman who comes out against Blairmont is looking to get paid for their eventual silence - period. As if they'd REALLY get in the way of hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in that now rural area that used to be the near north side? Please. The City, it's residents, conservationists, not-for-profits, and the Mayor have had decades to clean it up with no real progress. Now that somebody wants to throw some real money at the problem, everyone demands a seat at the table claiming they are the gatekeepers of this so-called valuable property. Uh, the property isn't valuable without the project - that's called project influence and, NO, you never get that in eminent domain valuations. Aldermen in this city care about one thing only - getting paid whether by extortion or handout. Just write the checks and everything will be smooth sailing . . . wait until you see the plans - you can all eat your words then.

Chris said...

"I find it ironic that OLD NORTH hosts a development fair on September 20th engaging people to come out and take a look at what there is to offer on one hand, but shutting out a Paul McKee on the other hand. I find it schizophrenic. Crazy, typical St. Louis."

There's nothing ironic about it all--simply put, a house that is purchased by McKee has just received a death sentence. Have you read any of the great posts around here documenting what McKee has been doing? He has NOT been helping the North Side at all. He is an impediment to development, purchasing occupied houses and destroying them.

what'sreallygoingon? said...

aslanlivesnow lives near the business that employs the theives stealing "unlimited brick/brick unlimited" from the 5th and 19th wards. I find it ironic that criminal activity can go on down the street and you concern yourself with ONSL slapping Mckee's hand. I wonder who you will slap when your neighborhood starts to fall.

Hotel Planning Guide said...

My parents live in the neighborhood and I recently moved to CA for a job, but I am still very interested in the concerns of the neighborhood. Since I could not be there I would like to find out what came of the rally. Those of you who were at the rally how do you feel it turned out? What did it accomplish?