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Cardinals Defend Ballpark Village; Alderman Scott Ogilvie Slams Project As "Total Failure"

bpv-parking-1.jpg
Cardinals
Last week, the St. Louis Cardinals announced a "significant construction milestone" in the development of Ballpark Village, the highly anticipated project directly north of Busch Stadium: A giant parking lot featuring 400, $20-spots is now open to fans. The news, as we noted, has sparked renewed criticisms from some St. Louisans who argue that a development benefiting from tax subsidies should include more than just parking spaces and bars.

Since publishing our post last week, Daily RFT got a chance to speak with both Alderman Scott Ogilvie, one of the most vocal critics of the current plan, and Ron Watermon, spokesman for the Cardinals, who argues that fans are excited about this stage of the project and that the site will be a big boost for downtown.

"Taxpayers have earned a better project than they have delivered," Ogilvie tells us. "The city of St. Louis has been a great home for the Cardinals...and this is a place downtown where we could use a great project.... It's just maddening to see what I would call the total failure of this project. It is completely unacceptable that the citizens of St. Louis have been asked to subsidize two themed bars [and a parking lot]."

See also:
- Cardinals Finally Break Ground on Ballpark Village, Release New Renderings
- Ballpark Village Returns! Bet You Didn't See That One Coming
- Ballpark Village: Cardinals Finish Building ... Giant Parking Lot! (PHOTOS)

The lot unveiled last week is one part of the first phase of Ballpark Village, which has suffered from delays and setbacks for years. The team, partnering with Cordish Companies, says the seven-block, ten-acre site will eventually be a mixed-use project with retail, entertainment, office and residential components.

The $100 million initial phase includes an Anheuser-Busch-sponsored venue, a three-story building with the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum and a restaurant.

Officials with the Cardinals say this is the next step in building upon the team's investment in downtown St. Louis, which began with the opening of the new $411 million Busch Stadium in 2006.

Ballpark Village benefits from tax-increment financing (TIF), which, simply put, means that a portion of generated tax revenue gets put back in the project. (Part of that comes via the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act, or MODESA, designed specifically to support downtown initiatives).

Ogilvie argues that, with taxpayer subsidies, Ballpark Village should include concrete, immediate plans for mixed-use development.

Alderman-Scott-Ogilvie.jpeg
via Twitter
Scott Ogilvie.

"It is literally the exact opposite of the kind of development that creates better urban environments," he says. "We can't accept this stuff.... This isn't a neutral outcome. This is damaging to the way people living, working and visiting downtown experience downtown."

He explains of the TIF structure, "Every time they sell a beer at these bars, they are keeping most of that tax revenue to pay for the construction."

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All photos courtesy of Cardinals

He notes that large developments sometimes require these sorts of funding mechanisms, but says, "You have to be smart about what you're subsidizing. It doesn't create value for downtown to subsidize bars."

Oglivie, who voted against TIF for this project at the board of alderman, adds, "There are bars downtown. It's not like we're desperate for places to drink in St. Louis so we have to subsidize it and create more.... What improves downtown, what makes downtown great is more housing options and quality jobs. The housing component has been completely stripped out."

"They are wringing the least value out of this property," he continues. "What irks me now that this parking lot is finished is the city has really lost any leverage it has over the Cardinals. All we can do now is beg and that's not a position we should be in with a subsidized project.... We should be able to guarantee some level of positive development.... The core of the region is too important."

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Watermon, of course, has a very different take on how Ballpark Village, in the near and distant future, will impact downtown.

"The long-term vision for the project is substantial," he says.

Continue for our interview with Ron Watermon and for more photos.


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59 comments
Corwin Gibson
Corwin Gibson

cant clean up the streets.....so hey lets build a parking lot :)

Trent Harvey
Trent Harvey

"Busch Stadium needs more $20 parking." -Nobody I think its a waste of space that had potential to be so much more. Even with the items still left "to be done" (whenever that'll actually happen), they wasted a ton of space by putting in another parking lot. "They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot."

Shawn E. Williams
Shawn E. Williams

A huge parking lot? WTF? Ride the effing Metrolink people and leave your cars out of downtown!!!

pauliep40
pauliep40

I guess I am the only person that is pissed about the bastards charging $20 for a parking spot?

David Goldstick
David Goldstick

This is how it's going to look for the next 5-10 years -- or about 15 years after the new stadium was built courtesy of our money. So yeah, the Cards screwed the pooch here.

stephanie.meyer
stephanie.meyer

This just infuriates me!  Vague plans for Phase 2...all I see is a huge Budweiser Billboard and Parking Lot!  Where's the housing?  Retail space?  Office space?  Hell, more bars are still better than a parking lot...

Bob McCollum
Bob McCollum

Finally, we don't have to park in the lot directly across the street or at any of the meters that are readily available and cheap/free most of the time. And public transportation? *shudders*

Eric Holley
Eric Holley

god do you people always have to find something to complain about.. the shit isnt even done yet

Jason Patrylo
Jason Patrylo

Tax payers paid for a parking lot, money should go back to them.

Rita Kiry Ryan
Rita Kiry Ryan

And in Downtown St. Louis, once the 4th largest city in America, we have...a parking lot!

Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt

Watermon gets two things completely wrong in his quotations. Adding more parking is NEVER good for downtown and NO ONE is excited about more parking spaces. I hope people will boycott Ballparking lot Village to prove to the Cardinals that we want meaningful development around the stadium, not surface parking.

David Dwars
David Dwars

Chelsy I guess my point is that there is now pavement where there once was a serviceable building. Also, sound planners would have tried to entice USBC to move to St Louis when they left Milwaukee in 2008.

Michael P Goggins
Michael P Goggins

Not true, there are waiting lists to get a good apartment downtown and the developers of the Chemical and Arcade Buildings can attest to that need. The first phase took 7 years and millions of tax dollars to turn a grass parking lot into a paved parking lot with a single bar. That is a bad joke!! They promised a Wrigleyville area and in 7 years and with millions of our tax dollars we get a bar and a surface lot. What a return!! How then can they even possibly be trusted when they are making out like bandits and the City of St Louis gets little to nothing in return. In five- ten years, they will ask for millions more for a second building!!

Eric Christensen
Eric Christensen

If Scott runs for Mayor. I will do all in my power to see Slay's run come to an end.

padrick77
padrick77

This was just a money grab for the billionaire owners of the Cardinals. Promise the world and deliver very little. Guess where all the money from the parking and bar will be headed and the City will receive basically nothing!! With the money used here the City could have saved Cupples 7 and could afford to help a developer with the redevelopment of the Jefferson Arms. Two projects which would have actually been good for revitalization of St Louis!!!

Chelsy McInnis
Chelsy McInnis

The Bowling Hall of Fame was relocated to Arlington because they wanted it closer to USBC headquarters (Which makes sense).

Randy Vines
Randy Vines

You don't know what you're talking about. Scott Ogilvie is easily one of the most progressive aldermen this city has ever seen.

kyra75
kyra75

I understand that they need some parking.  Why didn't they put in a parking GARAGE like across the street.  They would have had more parking spots than the slab of pavement they just put in AND they would have more room for buildings that would generate revenue and jobs.  No they shouldn't have been given taxpayer money but it's done and these people need to deliver.  They're doing the minimum that is required of them.  It's been 7 years and all we have are some parking spots?

David Dwars
David Dwars

Is a surface parking lot the highest and best use for this prime real estate? NO. The bowling hall of fame was demolished for 20 parking spaces and has now reopened in Arlington TX. St. Louis is not in a position to drive out existing attractions that draw tourism for more convenient surface parking lots.

angeloolegna
angeloolegna

How about the next petition is a limit on tax breaks for projects like these. If you get public money you WILL provide a public good. Not parking, and not empty lots.

D.c. Small
D.c. Small

YES. Not only did they put a lot where they could've built a multi-level garage, but they ruined the view of the old courthouse to do it.

Randy Vines
Randy Vines

Ward24 STL - Scott Ogilvie is 100% right on with his position. I thank him for standing up for sensible development and the taxpayers who are making this poor excuse for "revitalization" possible.

Darrell Ford
Darrell Ford

In my opinion, Scott Ogilvie is a Metro Ass Clown who likes to whine and bitch. He was elected as an independant but I smell a republican.

John Null
John Null

Waiting lists for Downtown apartments are a mile long. They can't build more quick enough! The Chemical Building, OPO Tower, Arcade-Wright, Millennium Center, and others are set to open up this and next year. Once we see how quickly those go, then we will know how many apartments BPV can and should build. And I can tell you what, they haven't even started on the Chemical yet and I have already called the developers about pre-leasing a place ASAP. I know I'm not alone, either. These apartments are going to go FAST.

Brian Gregory May
Brian Gregory May

According to the article, Brian Bradley, "the surface parking lot visible now will eventually be replaced by office and residential development."

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Tony Novelly owns the whole block in Clayton through a subsidiary his son runs. Novelly isn't interested for a micro second in building downtown. Novelly developed this: http://www.stalbans.com/

Jason Brock
Jason Brock

The writing was on wall when this crap was first announced but so many just ate the shit they were fed.

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Downtown does not have empty residential apartments, it's at 90% capacity. Call around and you can confirm

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

It's a great empty lot and now some want the taxpayesrs to pay for a new football stadium????

James Spurgeon
James Spurgeon

I just skimmed the article, so bare with me. I don't tend to hold Ogilvie in high esteem. He usually seems to run his mouth off. Yes, Ballpark Village was supposed to be more. That was before an economic recession. Even in the earliest of design plans, the A-B bar/restaurant and Cardinals Hall of Fame were slated. That has always stayed. Ogilvie wants them to build the mixture of residential/commercial already into the project. The problem is downtown already has an abundant condos and apartments that are empty. It will just saturate the market more. Could they be a bigger draw being next to the ballpark? Maybe. But oversaturating the market doesn't help the other places either. As for commercial... again, the same situation. Plenty of available space. The two could work in tandem... and especially do well during home games. But again, the market has to be there. Now all of this being said, I can't stand parking lots and we already have too many. Now as things progress, the goal is to tear down the parking lot and building on as economic conditions improve. However, what worries me is that the city tends to keep their "precious" parking lots after they've been built. Yes, Ogilvie is correct that we should not settle for that. For the first phase, I'm ok, but the other phases better follow and the parking lot should gradually shrink. (at least they can get some money for the unused land at this initial stage.)

John Null
John Null

These renderings are laughable. Why don't they try and lure some office tenants immediately? Apex Oil is set to build a new high-rise in Clayton. Are the Cardinals too stupid to see an opportunity in stealing Apex away from Clayton? Lure them to BPV. What about residential? The downtown residential market has grown by 400% in the past decade. Thousands of new apartments will be opening up later this year, 2014 and 2015. The demand is fuckin' there already!

Cindy Harvey
Cindy Harvey

I dunno yet but it sure as hell makes it difficult for me to get from my car to see some baseball #tiredofwalkingaroundit

Brian Bradley
Brian Bradley

Have you actually seen it yet? 75% of it is a surface lot. The rest is a handful of gimmick bars. No "new" money is being generated here. It's a total waste of money and property.

bizniche28
bizniche28

@Brian Gregory May Right!  And the Cards are "cautiously optimistic" that will actually happen sometime lol.

stevepohlman
stevepohlman

@Brian Gregory May and I've got a bridge I wanna sell ya. "Planning for BPV began in 1999 when the Cardinals began exploring ways to build a new stadium. When plans for the new Busch Stadium were finalized, the Cardinals entered into an agreement with the City of St. Louis and have a stake in the completion of the development. Under the initial agreement, at least one block of the Village was to have been completed by 2007, while the entire development was to have been finished by 2011. If Ballpark Village was not completed by 2011, the Cardinals were to have paid a $3 million fine per year until the project is finished."

Zero Credibility.


bizniche28
bizniche28

@James Spurgeon Thank you for demonstrating you have absolutely no idea what the apartment availability downtown is actually like lol.  

Also, RE: "
what worries me is that the city tends to keep their "precious" parking lots after they've been built".  LMAO, yes lets just bare with you shooting YOUR mouth off and yet being completely uninformed.  This is not a City parking garge.  Hence, it being part of the Cardinals BPLV.  Wow.


padrick77
padrick77

@James Spurgeon Not true, there are waiting lists to get a good apartment downtown and the developers of the Chemical and Arcade Buildings can attest to that need. The first phase took 7 years and millions of tax dollars to turn a grass parking lot into a paved parking lot with a single bar. That is a bad joke!! They promised a Wrigleyville area and in 7 years and with millions of our tax dollars we get a bar and a surface lot. What a return!! How then can they even possibly be trusted when they are making out like bandits and the City of St Louis gets little to nothing in return. In five- ten years, they will ask for millions more for a second building!!

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