Tuesday, December 12, 2006

STL Centre of Attention

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2006 at 2:42 PM

St. Louis Centre remains the zit on downtown's increasingly attractive face. Now the mayor's office is one vote away from popping that bugger, and Darlene Green, the comptroller, is worried city taxpayers will be left with a mess.

Tomorrow the Board of Estimate & Apportionment -- composed of Mayor Francis Slay, Board of Aldermen President Jim Shrewsbury and Comptroller Green -- will vote on a TIF-financed redevelopment plan for the mall and its accompanying office tower. The plan is different from most TIFs, in which developers are responsible for debts if their projects fail to generate enough tax revenues to cover project costs. In this case, Pyramid, the developer, is asking the city to back $14.5 million of the project's nearly $37 million price tag.

The mayor, as he indicated in a recent blog post, plans to vote in favor of the plan (which the Board of Aldermen approved last week). Green is staunchly opposed.

"It puts the city's general revenue fund at risk for payment," says John Farrell, the comptroller's spokesman. "And we're already paying more than a million dollars a year out of our general revenues to cover the debts of the only other TIF of this kind: the one for the St. Louis Marketplace [on Manchester Avenue].

"Plus, whether the project is successful or not, it will affect the city's credit rating. It's considered debt by credit agencies."

Shrewsbury is the swing vote. We'll let you know when he returns our call.

-Kristen Hinman


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