Phantom of the Hood, Part 2

A local developer continues to gobble up land on the city's north side.

Jerry Dowell, policy director for Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, says that Clayton attorney Steven Stone, who represents one of McKee's corporations, McEagle Properties, helped write the Tax Credit Act, and that as initially drafted, the legislation called only for a minimum of 75 acres — with no restriction regarding city-owned land or eminent domain.

In response to a request for comments for this story, Paul McKee relayed a statement through his publicist, Tom Geiser of Black Twig Communications.

"Through partnerships, I own a much smaller amount of property than reported," McKee asserts in the statement. "And what we do own, with a few unremarkable exceptions, is owned in small, undevelopable scattered sites. It appears that qualifying for the tax incentive will be difficult. As it is written, we do not qualify. I had hoped to use it in connection with the expansion of NorthPark. It will be extremely difficult to do so at NorthPark or anywhere else."

"NorthPark" comprises 600 acres that span three municipalities east of Lambert Airport: Ferguson, Berkeley and Kinloch. McEagle Properties is a co-developer of the site, which was originally acquired as a noise buffer for the airport. NorthPark Partners won the development rights from an intergovernment commission in 2005 and so far has attracted Vatterott College and Express Scripts to build new headquarters there. (McEagle is also the developer of WingHaven, 1,200 acres of residential, retail and office space in St. Charles County.)

Mike Jones, executive assistant to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, advocated for the Tax Credit Act and says he can see how it might help NorthPark determine the future of nearby vacant lots in Kinloch. "[McKee] may be more right about NorthPark than he is about north St. Louis," Jones says.

But what does the developer have planned for Blairmont?

McKee did not reply to requests for clarification regarding the scope of his holdings or what he intends to do with them.

That doesn't surprise Sean Thomas, executive director of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, who met with McKee in attorney Steven Stone's office two months ago.

Thomas says he went into that encounter with two goals. The first was to express his concerns about the rundown state of Blairmont's properties. The second was to ascertain McKee's agenda.

"I have to tell you, after that meeting, I'm not quite sure I know the answer to that second part," Thomas says.

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