Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rams Owner Stan Kroenke Wins Appeal For Public Funding For Belleville Walmart

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 8:32 AM

Stan Kroenke can move forward on his plans for a Belleville Walmart.
  • Stan Kroenke can move forward on his plans for a Belleville Walmart.
Sure he's worth nearly $3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, but, hey, business is business.

And earlier this month, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke won another sweetheart deal for his bread-and-butter business: the Walmart development company, THF Realty.

In a ruling handed down February 7, the Illinois' 5th District Appellate Court upheld a lower court's decision that the City of Belleville did nothing wrong in approving a nearly $20-million tax increment finance (TIF) package for THF to develop a "blighted" strip of property on the town's outskirts.

But like so many of these deals, the city uses the term "blighted" rather loosely.

The property was working farmland when the city first struck upon the idea of turning it into a retail strip. Local resident Stephen Malec sued the city and THF over the deal, arguing that the land was not blighted and could be developed without the public funding. 

Appellate Judge James Wexstten seemed to sympathize with Malec's case when explaining the court's decision. But the law is the law, and right now it's fashioned in such a way as to favor developers.

"While we recognize that farming is an important basic component of the economy, we must give effect to the plain language of a legislative enactment, even though the consequences may be harsh, unjust, absurd or unwise," wrote Wexstten in handing down the majority opinion.

This is hardly the first time Kroenke's THF Realty has asked for TIF handouts. Last year the developer made headlines for asking Bridgeton officials for $8 million in TIF funding to build a new Walmart just down the street from an existing Wal-Mart in St. Ann. 

Keep up on all the St. Louis news, opinion and snark by following Daily RFT on Facebook or Twitter @chadgarrison.

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