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Friday, May 23, 2008

McKee Refused to Assure Residents That Their Homes Were Safe

A KMOX radio story that aired yesterday, "Developer Paul McKee -- Target of City Hall Protest", dropped a pretty big bomb: developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. met with some residents of his north city project area last year and refused to assure them that their homes could remain.


Anonymous said...

Think about it. To what end would Paul McKee benefit by visiting with neighbors in his planned redevelopment area?

Thinking that would work out well for him would imply these residents would have some role in the area or the project down the road.

By him not meeting with them, what does that say?

Anonymous said...

Um, he DID meet with them. He just refused to assure them that their homes will not be affected.

Why haven't more people put pressure on him and the Alderman? I don't think the Mayor has anything to do with this and I wish the Alderman and the developer would answer some questions.

Anonymous said...

He didn't assure them of anything, did he?

What was the meeting for? Maybe he's just trying to get an idea of the level of citizen concern, which outside of the blogs, seems pretty low.

The Develop with Dignity Coalition doesn't seem to have many members.
Is there a list of them?

To their credit though, they are getting some attention from the media.

How long can McKee keep stonewalling the press, local elected officials, and area residents?

The longer this goes on, the more you have to wonder, does McKee wish he never would have gotten into this situation?

Or does he have so much money, that this is all sport to him?

What's HIS motivation?

Doug Duckworth said...

If the entire project area was put into preservation review or perhaps under a zoning/design overlay ordinance, then this issue would be partially addressed.

Chris said...

He thinks he's a messianic figure, swooping down from St. Charles County to save the residents of North St. Louis from themselves, of course.

He already sees himself above the fold on the front page of the Wall Street Journal about how he "saved" the North Side by turning it into a gigantic trucking depot.

Anonymous said...

Develop with Dignity is a clergy group.

Neighbors for Social Justice is a group of residents from the 5th and 19th wards.

Members of the NfSJ went to City Hall.

Anonymous said...

Let's get this straight....

Neighbors for Social Justice and Develop with Dignity are two, indepedent organizations? Are Neighbors for Social Justice a member of the Develop with Dignity Coalition.

One of the problems for concerned residents it seems is that the community is not speaking with one voice.

"Preservation Review" is sort of irrelevant, isn't it? There's already been so much building loss in the area, even before McKee, that it's hardly thought of as a historic resource area. I'm sure that's not what McKee is interested in, and it's probably not reflected that way on the city Strategic Land Use plan. To the contrary, it's probably designated as some sort of ripe redevelopment area for new construction.

As far as a zoning overlay, there are already plans in place, whether the 5th ward plan or the City's Strategic Land Use Plan.

Look for McKee's product to generally be consistent with the City's Strategic Land Use PLan, if not the 5th ward plan itself.

In terms of priority, most would probably consider the City's Strategic Land Use Plan the more important guiding document.

Local ward based plans are more easily changed than sweeping, city wide visions.

Face it people, if you're living on a 90% vacant block (as much of JVL is), chances are the developers and regional leaders are more interested in what's happening on that 90% than the future of your individual lot/house.

If eminent domain is necessary to prepare the full block for redevelopment, it would probably be a case that most courts would uphold, and not seen as eminent domain abuse.

This is not Clayton or the Galleria were talking about. This is one of the most abandoned sections of the northside.

Just invoking the words "Pruitt" and "Igoe" is probably enough to get most people in St. Louis to nod their heads in favor of blighting and redevelopment.

Chris said...

I personally believe the rights of the 10% who stayed on the block are very important.

Anonymous said...

^ Not to the state of Missouri.

Once an area meets the blight test - easily made in the case of JVL - eminent domain may be invoked.

The author's text for this post is indeed what many people believe this area needs: A bomb dropped on it.

There are those who would say McKee is providing a much needed community service.

Doug Duckworth said...

This isn't eminent domain. He's not doing that.

Just invoking the words "Pruitt" and "Igoe" is probably enough to get most people in St. Louis to nod their heads in favor of blighting and redevelopment.

It does not matter what "most" St. Louisans think or the State of Missouri. With leadership, the issue would be framed differently. Public opinion could be turned against wide-scale urban renewal and negro removaln. But leadership is either ignorant or outright captured like Republica State Senate Candidate Rodney Hubbard.

For new construction I would change the zoning code of the entire area. The SLP may call for one thing, but our 1947 zoning code is what guides development.

McKee has not won. There is still opportunity. This is our City. He must have the approval of the BOA, and while I may be rather cynical about their independence, it is our responsibility to educate and hold them accountable.

Anonymous said...

The 1947 zoning code is the least relevant of all redevelopment planning documents.

Redevelopment plans approved by the Board of Aldermen trump the zoning code.

Zoning in the city is easily changed.

The aldermen make it happen.

Also, this is hardly a case of "negro removal", such as in the former Mill Creek Valley.

The area targeted by McKee is mostly devoid of any people, black, white, yellow, or brown.

As far as the state is concerned, what he will be removing is blight.

And that's the whole point of "REdevelopment".

tobyweiss.com said...

The Mayor damn well DOES know exactly what's going on with McKee, and that's why they've been so suspiciously quiet about all of it. And that's exactly why the Alderman (not involved) willg et squashed and the plan will go on unchecked by any balances.

Anonymous said...

No ordinance can be passed without the support of the Board of Aldermen.

I once heard a former president of the Board of Aldermen say that he was the most powerful man in city government-so long as he could assemble 15 votes.

Don't forget, St. Louis is a "weak mayor" form of government.

Anonymous said...

The City's strategic land use plan calls designates most of the McKee area as a "Neighborhood Development Area". Not industrial.

If McKee is planning to build a lot of warehousing and distribution space instead of a residential neighborhood, his plans would not conform to the SLP.

Anonymous said...

I was once pro Slay and now anti Slay simply because of his corrupt involvement with this whole scandal with Mckee. He knows exactly what is going on!!!

Chris said...

This is American city politics--any previous plans or zoning can be swept away in an instant.

Just look at the Century Building; there was a time when the city was actually filing lawsuits to prevent its demolition.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:10 and 12:24, this area was NOT 90% vacant 3 years ago when McKee entered into his defacto eminent domain agreement with Slay and Kinder. The removal of people (mostly AA) and buildings is well underway, using taxpayer money -- city funds pay contractors for demolitions, the bill goes to McKee and when/if he pays it, he can turn it in for state money. Basically, city fronts the green, state picks up the tab later.

So who is left to complain? The remaining holdouts are the clearly delusional ones who felt that the gov't should compensate citizens for the value of their homes when the gov't decides to take the land for redevelopment.

This is not some anti-ED whining. These are people refusing to move in the face of truly god-awful blockbustng and arson until they can see a plan and get fair compensation. In the meantime, they are asking for a moratorium on the blockbusting. A goddamn moratorium on blockbusting. Do you know how low it is to crawl into the mayor's office and beg for him to stop the blockbusting in your neighborhood and not even get the bare courtesy of a "Got your letter, sorry, can't help"?

NSJ represents a significant percentage of the remaining homeowners in St Louis Place. The organizer is Sheila Rendon. Develop with Dignity is NSJ's project to reach out to other groups. You think the neighbors aren't showing concern because you don't hear about it in the news, and they are not part of the blogger class to make the comments themselves where you might see them. Many are elderly. Most do not have internet access. They communicate with typed and xeroxed letters. Oh, and by talking at church. Ya know, in their community. Where they live. In their fucking homes.

How clear can I make this? Our government is using our money to transfer the laboriously accumulated wealth of a working class, predominantly African American community to McKee. Govt is not using eminent domain to properly compensate the already displaced residents. Those who will be displaced will undoubtedly get appraisals based on current value of the devastated neighborhood. You see those things on PBS about poor black folk in the early 1900's being run off their farms with threats so some white farmer can take their land. This is no different. Just refreshingly modern! Yay for the new millenium!

Robert Powers said...

Face it people, if you're living on a 90% vacant block (as much of JVL is)

I can't begin to tell you how incorrect this statement is. There are many, many, many homes throughout JeffVanderLou, and St. Louis Place too. There's urban prairie for sure, and plenty of vacancy, but there are a LOT of people living there too. N. 23rd Street is the exception, not the rule, in Blairmontland.

If McKee were acquiring land strategically, targeting particular blocks where there's truly only a handful of houses remaining and honestly and fairly buying them out, there wouldn't be such a problem. He's not. He's buying everything he can, everywhere he can. He's buying into occupied, fully built-up blocks and driving in wedges of arson, brick rustling, and neglect.

He has buildings scattered amid the thriving new growth of Old North St. Louis, even one right next to the redeveloping 14th Street Mall. He's got buildings on the fully built 2500 block of North Market by Zion Lutheran. He's destroying the 2500 block of W. Sullivan. He's already destroyed the 2500 block of Dodier, surrounding a legitimate, thriving business with burn-outs, brick rustled ruins, and a pretty obvious implication of "hey buddy, you're next."

Who thinks this is "doing a public service"? Do the people who think that have any stakes in the neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

Those who will be displaced will undoubtedly get appraisals based on current value of the devastated neighborhood.

Well, if that's what _advocates_ think will happen then I guess there really is no hope.

Anonymous said...

The simple fact is that Mckee is using terrorist tactics to clear the blocks of "undsirables"(or, in the parlance of the majority of whites in STL: niggers. Sorry, that's how alot of white people still think. I should know. I'm white and I know plenty of people who still use that word and a few others besides). The City, especially Mayor Sleaze, enables this behavior because Mckee is finishing off the job started 30-40 yrs ago. Terrorism, use the word well and often. Paul Mckee is a terrorist. Of course, he's seperated himself from the nefarious activities of his underlings by using some of the same methods mob and criminal gang leaders use to shield themselves from prosecution. It's obvious, as well, that having a some political friends doesn't hurt either. Speaking of politics, I can't help but wonder if the corruption of the Bush Administration hasn't simply allowed businesses and corporations--with the help of friendly pols--to engage in these kinds of activities simply because they know prosecution is a laughably distant prospect. This stinking pus-filled boil of a man Mckee is as much of a menace to the North Side as incompetant aldermen, neglect, poverty, lax policing, and the loss of industrial production in our country. When I see this behavior and the enabling toadies such as Anon 11:10, 11:32, and 12:24, I rue my atheism, because I really want to imagine Paul Mckee and Mayor Fransleaze occupying a particularly gruesome circle of Hell. This is a federal crime. It's too bad that tool Hannaway is Eastern District's top Attorney.

Anonymous said...

The advocates are greasy republicrats, and gov't subsidized monopolizing investors. The critics are weary home owners and residents.

Hope has gotten them nowhere. Complaints get buildings condemned, making them easier to demo later. Maintaining/boarding his property is futile. I don't hate everything about our current mayor, or alderman, but he/they need to work some MORAL BACKBONE here. When you announce this Super Development in order to get votes next go round, we'll remember, and repeat, how the property was obtained.

This surely will be announced before we vote. The gas prices will amazingly drop for a short time too, but that's not local, just more proof of corporate owned government.

Anonymous said...

I would like to set the record straight. My name is Sheila Rendon. I live in the 5th ward in a home that was purchased by my parents and grandparents in the early 1960's. When they moved here it was a vital neighborhood with homes,stores,schools,community centers and yes Pruitt Igoe. Altough I did not witness the neighborhood in that state (I was born in the 70's) I feel the passion of the neighbors whenever I hear their stories.

I have read this blog for some months because it is our only form of information of Paul Mckee and others who have a plan for our neighborhood that has not been shared with our neighbors. Although it may seem trivial and some may feel that it is a good thing to have development at any cost, it seems very sinister to us because there has been no effort to include us. We are a group of residents who have been exposed to failed redevelopment plans in the past. However the disrespect being shown to us in the case of Blairmont properties is reprhensible even if it does have legs.

We (Neighbors for Social Justice) are a group of residents who are tired of being subjected to the will and whim of City "politics as usual" and disregarded by our elected officails. We are taxpayers and we have the right to express to whomever is in charge that this is wrong. We know our close proximity to Downtown and the Mississippi river is desirable. It is desirable to us as well that is why we are still here.

I Also want to say that the Develop with Dignity project was started by clergy members in the neighborhoods where Mckee's and LRA properties are having a devestating effect. They are two separate entities but they are attempting to work together as has been suggested to all organizations in this area. I encourage all of those interested in a positive solution to work with us as well.

Many residents in the 5th and 19th wards own their property and they are very afraid of the very things you a talking about the blockbusting, brick rustling, and the recent arsons. It is having a very negative impact on our wards and we want it to stop. We are NOT against development let me restate that we are NOT agaisnt development. We were never warned about Mckee even when his properties began to delapitate our neighbors were not warned that this is the same person who is sending out letters to buy your property. If we had known then what we know now things might be different. Now it is what it is and we are fighting a uphill battle. We know that but that does not defer our mission if anything it makes us more determined. We want to inform our neighbors of our future. As of this posting no one has done it no politician, no media, no neighborhood organizations so it must be done by us. If you were in the same position wherever you live, I hope you would do the same for your neighborhood.

Thank You
Sheila Rendon
Neighbors for Social Justice

Anonymous said...

The Lou is dependent on Big Brother. His favorite tools in a bag of many are blight and Eminent Domain. Those who kept silent as the disease spread will soon be ill.

GMichaud said...

It is good to see that the criminal activity of Paul McKee is being called out. While it is clear the courts and people like Catherine Hanaway only serve the wealthy insiders, still there is some independent people at the federal level who can and should intervene on behalf of citizens.
I agree fully with Sheila Rendon that the people should have a place at the table of decision making.
I know of two properties, one in Lafayette Square and one on Cherokee in Antique Row, with different owners who were beat up by the city and the court system until they sold their property. So the city has the tools to act against McKee.
Ultimately this is a reflection on how badly the people of St. Louis have been disfranchised. The city is managed for the benefit of a few insiders. (Pyramid, Ballpark Village etc etc)
The decline of the City of St. Louis is no accident and could have been avoided or seriously curtailed at many junctures.

And finally to the Anony who thinks the current Land Use plan will solve the problems of redevelopment. That person is naive and not too bright.
An examination of Land Use policies in recent years shows planning inconsistent with urban forms that can help rejuvenate the city. At this juncture in history global and economic conditions make it imperative that a walkable, human scaled city be redeveloped similar to what was here before. Strip malls and suburban development in the city go against land use patterns needed to counteract problems such as energy shortages and global warming. This means building of a city that works well for humans --not automobiles.
Just one example, the city of Helsinki, Finland (similar population to St. Louis) only around half of the people own cars. Comprehensive transit and a walkable environment allow this to happen in an efficient, high quality manner.

In St. Louis, instead of improving the lives of all its citizens the misguided leadership focuses on allowing criminal behavior by people like Paul McKee to flourish under the banner of some sort of visionary capitalist redevelopment scheme that steals funds legally from the public treasury to insure his profitably for this travesty.

Anonymous said...

Well, since Community Program Development Corporation is involved (a fact rarely reported), eminent domain is a given. CPDC is a relocation consultant on many projects that use ED, including the Bohemian Hill massacre. Look for eminent domain to be a big part of further stealing, uh, "acquisitions."

Chris said...

Oh Jeez, did you have to bring up Bohemian Hill? I was having a good day. There hasn't been any movement on that development in half a year; how much do you want to bet that the whole thing is canceled?