Awarding Paul McKee Tax Credits Doesn't Violate MO Constitution, Judge Rules

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
Developer Paul McKee's tax credits are safe - for now.
The final judgment against anti-Paul-McKee crusaders Barb Manzara and Keith Marquard, at least at the level of Missouri's 19th circuit, is pretty brutal.

Last October, the pair filed a suit in Cole County challenging the constitutionality of the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit Act, which began as a bill drafted by one of McKee's own attorneys, then became state law, and then was used by the developer to get $19.6 million in tax credits late last year.

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Anti-McKee Lawyers: City Ignored Facts That "Even Ray Charles Could've Seen"

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Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
Late last week, the legal team trying to shoot down developer Paul McKee's huge plan for the north side filed their post-trial brief. At 47 pages, it's the most detailed argument to date from attorneys Eric Vickers, Bevis Schock and Jim Schottel, and reiterates their major points:

  • Under Missouri law, the city must declare a predominance of blight in an area in order to grant a developer a  TIF, or public subsidy, to revamp it. But in this case, the opposition claims, the Board of Alderman blighted a huge area, then subdivided it and granted a TIF for only certain parts. And those certain parts, standing by themselves, don't show a predominance of blight.

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Kinloch Fire Protection District in Dispute With St. Louis County and NorthPark Over TIF Funding

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photo by Keegan Hamilton
Darran Kelly, chief of the Kinloch Fire Protection District
The Kinloch fire station is one of the nicest buildings in town, but that doesn't mean it's in good shape. The heater is broken, some of the windows are boarded-up, and until recently, a blue tarp, dubbed "the shower curtain," served as the portal through which the fire trucks would enter and leave when responding to emergencies.

The crumbling edifice is the home of the Kinloch Fire Protection District, the only all-volunteer fire department in St. Louis County. The building received several sorely-needed repairs in January when Chief Darran Kelly placed a help-wanted ad on Craigslist.

"A few guys came out and put in carpet, tiled the floors and the showers, installed a new electric panel and donated some office furniture," recalls Kelly, a 29-year veteran of the force.

Last year the District had to sell a reserve fire truck for scrap metal to pay the electric bill. "It's not because we didn't ask for what was due to us," adds the chief, who oversees nearly two dozen firefighters. "St. Louis County put us in this position." More »

Opponents of Paul McKee's Northside Development: Do They Want It Both Ways?

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
A vacant crumbles on the north side
Logically, it seems, Paul McKee can only be guilty of one of the following:
  • A scheme to gobble up a bunch of homes on the north side (using eminent domain), and to then bulldoze 'em into the ground to make room for his development dream; OR,
  • Feigning a commitment to revitalize the north side, when in fact what he really wants is to concentrate on the downtown areas of his plan.
Curiously, Anti-McKee crusaders seem to be claiming that he's guilty of both.

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Update: Committee Passes Triplett's Bill to Tackle the City's Vacant Building Problem

If Triplett gets her way, you'll know exactly who owns buildings like these.
Last June, a bill designed by Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett to crank up the heat on deadbeat owners of vacant buildings never got out of committee. Yesterday, it finally did.

According to Tim Logan of the Post-Dispatch, the bill passed by a 6 - 3 vote at a Housing, Urban Development and Zoning comittee hearing Tuesday morning. Now it's off to the full Board of Aldermen, which could make a decision next week. (Click here for Logan's story)

As we blogged yesterday: under Triplett's bill, any structure in St. Louis that's been abandoned for six months and violates building code will go into an online registry. Its owner will get $200 tacked onto their real estate taxes. If they don't pay, they'll get hit with a $250 fine and the city could foreclose on the property.

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Does McKee Have Private Financial Backing to Execute His Plan? Local Attorneys Say NO

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Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
Paul J. McKee, Jr. -- Can he pull off his $8.1 billion plan?
One of the major arguments driven home by the four attorneys and four plaintiffs trying to bring down Paul McKee's plan for the north side (check out this week's feature) is, basically, SHOW ME THE MONEY!

The developer can't pull off his grand vision, they claim, because he doesn't have enough private financial backing.

Here's a brief walk-through of their argument.

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Totally Bizarre Encounter between KMOV and Lawyer Trying to Thwart Paul McKee's Plan

This week's feature, "North Side Rancor," tells the tale of four attorneys and four plaintiffs who are trying to undermine the city's cooperation with developer Paul McKee in order to block his  $8.1 billion plan for the north side.

Things got interesting as soon as lawyer D.B. Amon filed this lawsuit back in October. Check out this wacky interview with him and KMOV News 4 reporter Chris Nagus:

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Wash U. Economist Rips McKee's Plan for North St. Louis in First Day of Trial

Michele Boldrin, chair of Wash U's Economics Department, called McKee's forecasts "completely arbitrary"
​It was
 a heated and colorful first day in the trial that will determine whether the city properly greenlighted developer Paul McKee's 1,100-acre, $8.1 billion plan to revitalize north St. Louis. (For a full preview of the trial, check out our feature, "North-Side Rancor").

Sporting owlish spectacles and a red bow tie, Judge Robert H. Dierker presided over more than four hours of testimony Tuesday afternoon, which included a lecture from a Washington University economist, a couple of testy exchanges, and metaphors involving elephants and dogs (plus one about the Pope and two chickens -- you had to be there).

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Enforcement of St. Louis Anti-Leafleting Law

Ruling makes it easier to accessorize someone else's ride.
U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel issued a consent judgment yesterday calling the enforcement of an anti-leafleting law in St. Louis an infringement on the First Amendment right of free speech.

The judgment follows a complaint filed by the ACLU of Eastern Missouri on behalf of a group opposed to developer Paul McKee's controversial NorthSide development plan.

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Latest Missouri City to Want Sports Stadium: O'Fallon

Family Arena: So lonely, it could use some company.
If Paul McKee's controversial redevelopment proposal for north St. Louis never comes to fruition, hopefully he can take solace in knowing that there's always room for growth in O'Fallon.

The town in St. Charles County, which boasts of being Missouri's "fastest growing city", is already home to McKee's Winghaven planned community. Now it seems the city also wants to be home to the St. Louis Bandits junior hockey team, and O'Fallon leaders are sparing no expense to ensure their community can steal the club from the Hardee's IcePlex in Chesterfield.

Recently the O'Fallon City Council approved a $40,000 contract for a "feasibility study" to look at whether or not the city should construct a $35-million, multipurpose arena. The arena would be built on 12-acres of land owned by McKee's McEagle Properties.

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