The news that the Cordish Company and Centene were unable to reach a final agreement on how Centene could purchase two blocks of the Ballpark Village project for a new office building and other projects was - as I said yesterday - disappointing. Still, I regard the delays that the Centene discussions added to the Ballpark Village project worth the effort. After all, had the two companies been able to reach an agreement, who would have begrudged them the time?
In conversations with the St. Louis Cardinals, I have made several things clear to them.
First, I want a world-class development built. What will it be? The Cardinals want to shift from condos to office space. I am fine with that. Downtown needs more office space and more jobs. While it is certainly going to be necessary to rewrite prior agreements to reflect that and other changes sought by the Cardinals, the new agreement must make sense and treat the taxpayers fairly.
Second, the hole is an eyesore. I understand that the engineers and construction contractors like it, and that grading the site would only add to the project’s costs and timing. But, it is difficult to understand why the fence around the site isn’t screened.
Third, the agreement with the Cardinals requiring them to pay $3 million a year if a $60-million project is not completed by 2011 remains in full force.
Fourth, my staff and I - and all the City officials quoted in the newspaper today - will work days, nights, and weekends to revise and document a new agreement quickly.
The City of St. Louis has never (and will not) get in the way of Ballpark Village being built - unless the price tag for our taxpayers is too high.