The Board of Aldermen has moved the NorthSide project forward, approving a bill giving McEagle Properties redevelopment rights over a project area in four City wards. The aldermen also granted preliminary approval for a TIF. With the approval, McEagle can now seek state tax credits.
If you have not followed the discussion before now, here is a recap:
A man named Paul McKee, the principal of McEagle Properties, believes that he can find partners to invest $8 billion to bring jobs and updated infrastructure to more than a thousand acres in north St. Louis over a period of years. He has already spent $50 million of his own money buying up property.
Not everybody favors the project, but many people do. The vote at the Board was reported by the newspaper to be 21-1.
I have encouraged McKee to proceed, but I have also cautioned him about several things. The City will be a public partner with him, but — at the end of the day the risk of making the investment must belong primarily to him and to his private partners. The City will not allow him to use eminent domain on owner occupied residential properties. He has said he will respect historic buildings, and the City hold him to that. And, finally, the project ought to benefit current residents and businesses before it benefits the people and businesses who may follow it to St. Louis. Whether McKee’s project happens or does not, the City will continue to work with anyone willing to invest money, effort, and attention in any City neighborhood.