We've Moved

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

Friday, February 16, 2007

McKee's Project by the Numbers

Paul J. McKee Jr.'s northside holding companies own somewhere between 100-400 acres of the JeffVanderLou, St. Louis Place and Old North St. Louis neighborhoods -- not over 1,000 as has been often stated. That's just bad math with no source.

However, 100 acres is a huge amount of land in an urban area. The two largest vacant sites in the city are the 40-acre Carondelet Coke site at the southeast corner of the city and the 33-acre Pruitt-Igoe site near the intersection of Cass and Jefferson avenues. Those sites are just about the right size for large urban development.

Perhaps the urban land acquisition tax credits now part of the pending Quality Jobs Act in the Missouri legislature could have reduced the minimum size from 75 acres to 30, with a cap of 75 acres. That seems like a reasonable change given the confusion and fear over the size of McKee's project. That range would guarantee smaller projects where community consensus would be easier to build. McKee's assemblage effort shows the difficulty of achieving consensus for projects on the scale that he apparently envisioned when he started.


Anonymous said...

I can see the argument for lowering the bottom a little, but what would be reason for adding a cap?

Anonymous said...


What about the Riverfront Times article that quotes you? Isn't that a source for the 1000 acre claim? Did they misquote you?

"Michael Allen has tracked the company's comings and goings on his Web site, www .www.eco-absence.org. He says that the Blairmont group of companies (which operate under names such as VHS Partners, N&G Ventures and Noble Development Company) has accumulated nearly 400 properties — more than 1,000 acres — in the Fifth and Nineteenth wards."

Unknown said...

Hmmm, I need to go check some numbers, but unless my sq-ft to acres converter is off, it was a much larger number than 400 acres. I've been going by lot size as reported by the property assessor's office. If anyone has a newish list of lots, please let me know.

Rick Bonasch said...

Given in our older neighborhoods, residential parcels run approximatley 3000-4000 square feet (about a tenth of an acre), it stands to reason that 400 properties would be less than 1000 acres.

The Blairmont group does own some larger parcels, but most are tiny, narrow residential lots, of the 30' front x 100-125' deep variety.

Hence the original notion of forming a land trust, recognizing the reality of hundreds of tiny, severally owned parcels of vacant land or abandoned buildings, combined into large, difficult to develop areas.

Anonymous said...

The confusion is that McKee's holdings include areas where there already is substantial investment. Many of those have developable areas--parts of blocks and whole blocks in some cases--significantly less than 75 acres and significantly less than 20 areas. If the intention is to encourage development, would it be prudent to provide a general subsidy for land predevelopment and link it to a local board that make allocations from it based upon the suitability of the project from the perspective of long-term neighborhood planning?

Will Winter

Anonymous said...

I received this email yesterday from the St. Louis Business Journal:

Most Influential St. Louisans

Sponsored by UMB Bank, SLU John Cook School of Business and Lewis, Rice & Fingersh, L.C.

The Three People You Meet In St. Louis

Join the St. Louis Business Journal and our special guests Deborah Patterson, Paul McKee Jr. and Catherine Hanaway. These are three St. Louisans we think any newcomer to the city would want to meet. To hear what they have to say and to meet the other Most Influential St. Louisans, be sure to attend this special event.

Breakfast Reception
Friday, March 2, 2007
John Cook School of Business
3674 Lindell Blvd.

7:30 a.m. Breakfast Buffet
8:00 a.m. Panel Discussion (concludes at 9 a.m.)
$25 per person if paid before 2/23/07
($30 if paid after 2/23)

Make your paid reservations online below. Reservations not held without payment. No refunds after 2/23/07. Individual seats only; no table reservations available. No tickets will be mailed; reservations held at the door. You may also mail, fax or e-mail your reservations to:
Kelly Rowland
St. Louis Business Journal
815 Olive Street, Ste. 100
St. Louis, MO 63101
Fax: 314-621-5031
E-mail: stlevents@bizjournals.com

For questions, call Kelly at 314-421-8307.

When? Friday, March 2, 2007, 7:30-9:00am
Where? John Cook School of Business 3674 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108

Anonymous said...

"Catherine Hanaway. These are three St. Louisans we think any newcomer to the city would want to meet."


Anonymous said...

Catherine Hanaway, the U.S. Attorney? Who cares? I would scarcely refer to her as influential. Sounds like a fluffy, over-priced event.

Michael R. Allen said...

I did examine the record, and I apparently used the "1,000 acres" line a few times in print. I have removed these incorrect statements.

The actual number is lower, and the maximum acreage in the area would seem to be 500 acres.

Assuming the public lands come into play, the number would still be less than 1,000 acres.

I apologize for repeating the error.