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Poll, What is Your Level of Trust for Paul McKee and his NorthSide Project

May 23, 2009 Media, North City, NorthSide Project, Sunday Poll 23 Comments

Thursday night Paul McKee gave a presentation on the project he has been acquiring property for and planning for 5 years.

Paul McKee on 5/21/09
Paul McKee on 5/21/09

The poll this week asks about your current level of trust with McKee and his company McEagle Properties.  I’ll have a post on my thoughts about the project on Tuesday morning.  For a preview tune in to KDHX 88.1FM at 7pm CST Monday May 25th.  For online options ckick here.


Currently there are "23 comments" on this Article:

  1. ceepee deecee says:

    McKee is McKee. I really worry about the aldermen.

  2. SMSPlanstu says:

    I have a high level of respect if he follows the vision and model of Old North St. Louis. Sure McKee is a developer making plenty of money, but so what? Just because he is rich doesn’t mean he is going to harm the people of North St. Louis. He is the only big regional scale developer willing to front the cash and risk EVERYTHING he has ever earned!

    He has the trust and respect and credibility of major banks to bankroll the loans for him to conduct engineering, planning, landscape architecture, transportation, and marketing studies and then bankroll the loans to built the infrastructure and then begin building. He does not make money until almost a decade from now into this whole process.

    He is a risk taker and he signals to the region that North St. Louis will be a safe and middle class friendly place to live, work, and play (all race by-the-way: when the white middle class left, so did the black middle class).

    He is a risk taker and he signals to the City of St. Louis and state of Missouri that these governments should provide money for land assembly, infrastructure, historic tax credits (for all the properties he let go and rehab them Old North style), tax abatements, and TIFs. Everything in the local and state economic development tool box needs to go towards this multi-billion dollar initiative.

    He is a risk taker and he signals to the federal government to invest CDBG grants, New Starts for North-South Metrolink line, grants for green energy grid and infrastructure, HUD grants, and the plethora of other federal aid.

    He is a risk taker and he signals to banks that North St. Louis is no longer a place to avoid giving loans (Finance 101); McKee means access to big loans from banks and this whole development could kill him financially if he can’t make it work.

    McKee is access to CASH, simply put and North St. Louis is the next future of St. Louis. We should advocate as much government investment into this as possible because it means less funds going to suburban sprawl. I am a planning student just like you Steve and this is what STL needs. Hold him to the Old North rehab movement standards and you will have a STL back from the path of Detroit.

  3. Oceans 11 says:

    Keep an eye on The Bank of Washington.

  4. Steveo says:

    Full-speed ahead. This is going to be a great project.

  5. Adam says:

    McKee has a poor track record with the properties he’s acquired and I don’t see any reason to “trust” him. This is not to say that he can’t move forward with his project, but rather that there should be mechanisms in place to hold him accountable and keep him honest every step of the way. If everything is as wonderful as he claims it will be, we won’t need to trust him as we’ll be able to see for ourselves how it’s going.

  6. ceepee deecee says:

    The Bank of Washington is in Washington, Missouri and represented by State Senator John Griesheimer (Rep.), who sponsored the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit Act.


  7. John says:

    It’s fine if McKee’s compensation was from hard work and investment in the community, but unequivocally speaking this will not be the case. The current plan gives a ton of revenue to McEagle through government handouts and middle man style bid-ask spread profiteering.

    This guy is a glorified welfare case, and I can only hope that my hard earned taxes don’t go to fund his extravagant lifestyle, but that’s probably too much to ask from our current leadership. Here’s a link to McKee’s mansion in Huntleigh, not bad:


  8. GMichaud says:

    Government has been run for wealthy classes for so long that to consider McKee a risk taker is simply not true. He is almost insured profitability with the numerous tax credits, TIF and other government donations.
    This country has been hijacked so a few people who control many resources will continue to succeed wildly.

    St. Louis was not built this way and it is scary that McKee has bought off politicians (Slay received $56,000 for his campaign etc, the donation as bribe scenario) so that he becomes the urban planner for the north area.

    He uses the correct terms: job creation, trolleys, urban environment but unless the people of the north side, the blogs and other independents raise hell it is questionable whether St. Louis will get a beneficial development.

    Current events to date have not been a good harbinger, and now the major St. Louis media seems to warming up to McKee, I guess he has worked to convert those “independent news sources” along with the political class.

    McKee is becoming a quasi government entity due to the extent of the project. Even if the large scale project is somehow successful, I doubt seriously it is a democratic model that should be followed if St. Louis and America are going to prosper.

    Personal tax credits, the donation, bribe schemes of political buy offs and the general acquiesce of government is dangerous to future generations and to the people living in St. Louis today.

  9. Ben says:

    I agree strongly with a previous commentator on the decidedly undemocratic nature of McEagle’s proposal. I distinctly recall a slide shown during last Thursday’s presentation that had entities like “public institutions,” “community non-profits,” “schools,” etc, contained in bubbles arranged around a central bubble titled “Leadership.” The implication was that McEagle Properties would fill in the role of leadership, which I personally find alarming and tantamount to building a company town within the St. Louis city limits.

    McEagle Properties is asking to control a substantial chunk of public financing, but without ever having been elected into that role. Furthermore, the company has little to lose, realistically, if any of the claims they made during their presentation do not pan out. They would still own $48Million worth of property, boom or bust, and would be free to let their buildings continue to crumble or sell them off.

    Also, what reasonable expectation is there that all relevant public agencies would even be able to cooperate with McEagle’s plan, what with McKee calling for new public schools, mass transit, new energy infrastructure, etc? Will all those things just start out as privately-owned, and then at some never-to-be-determined date magically transition into public ownership?

    This kind of lack of transparency and unaccountability would get elected officials run out of office, even over vastly smaller sums of money, so why should McKee get preferential treatment, along with pseudo-authority which rivals that of the mayor?

    I came to the meeting since I was curious for more details about potential employment opportunities coincident with the new commercial and manufacturing districts that McKee wants to building. The St. Louis job market has been abysmal for the past couple years, and my field (computer engineering) is woefully underrepresented.

    Because I speak my concerns about McKee’s intentions publicly on a blog, does this endanger my prospects of finding jobs in the new commercial districts he wants to build? I have no way of knowing, as McKee is not in a position to ever have to be accountable about such concerns. I would simply be labeled “disagreeable” and shoved aside, or I would be “facilitated” out of the McEagle workshops.

  10. ceepee deecee says:

    Are any 19th and 5th ward residents starting recall campaigns against their sell-out aldermen? Hope so.

  11. Jimmy Z says:

    “Unless the people of the north side, the blogs and other independents raise hell it is questionable whether St. Louis will get a beneficial development”. That’s pretty broad statement. Is the reason the north side hasn’t seen any significant “beneficial development” over the past several decades simply because the residents (who were redlined) and “other independents” remained silent? Or because most developers were either inclined or encouraged to invest their money elsewhere? Because they didn’t want to battle the residents and the politicians when they found more-welcoming environments elsewhere?

    Yes, change can be scary, as can be the unknown. Unfortunately, I view the current status quo, aka, continued decline, as something certain to guarantee that little “beneficial development” can be expected to occur. Without a significant, coordinated intervention from both the private and public sectors, the best we can expect is the same pattern of small, unfocused projects that has marked many recent, publicly-financed, redevelopment efforts in the city. Some will call whatever happens to be “beneficial development” while others will label it as the “gentrifcation” – it all depends on one’s perspective.

  12. john says:

    “Change can be scary… that’s a pretty broad statement”. Yes it is but change needn’t be scary at all if you know where you’re going and why. The Music Man is coming to save River City (granted it needs help) but he is playing the same unsustainable tunes that have destroyed economic stability, free enterprise, public confidence, and asset values on a massive scale. Throw in a few buzz words like “green, walkable, trolleys, jobs, urban” and miracle of miracles, 76 Trombones are heard and Oz is created for those who believe in quick remedies.
    – –
    In this case the monetary handouts are requested up front as he readily admits that he has neither the money, political power or the important parcels next to the highway. Will the final product be any different than what we are witnessing on the national level? Massive taxpayers’ bailouts to the ones that created the problems is scary.

  13. anon says:

    20,000 permanent jobs in an area of 10,000 = the definition of sustainable. A chicken in every pot, and 2 jobs for every residence.

  14. GMichaud says:

    If the public money now in play were designed as incentives to benefit small scale development instead of a hand out to a mega wealthy developer, north St. Louis would in fact see significant investment upsetting the status quo.

    As far as development being unfocused, it is the role of government to supply a planning framework for developers including Paul McKee. (Should we just hand all planning over to large scale developers so the planning is focused?)

    This city has not supplied this planning framework, creating the chaotic situation we have now. As a result St. Louisians are waiting for the plan presentation of the King McKee.

    If you look at the Old North 14th Street Mall area and its success, what underlies it? Not some mega developer, but a good plan that public and private institutions and citizens can believe in. Old North demonstrates other models work. Nor did Soulard, Lafayette Square or Benton Park require a large scale developer for success. (In fact it was the federal tax credit, which works for small scale developers that encouraged the rebuilding of these areas.)

    The worse part is the exclusion of the citizens from the process. There is a significant historical opportunity to develop a plan that addresses problems on a national scale and serves St. Louis for centuries to come. Instead a plan will be presented and then citizens will be allowed to comment (but not heard?).

    It is an ass backward process, it is the same process that has been used to date that has contributed to the decline of North St. Louis. What is happening right now on the north side is merely the continuation of a broken economic and political system. Paul McKee is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    By the way I didn’t say change was scary, what is scary is the system of bribes called donations, the wholesale buying of government policy by the wealthy. It is destroying America and democracy.

  15. ceepee deecee says:

    “I view the current status quo, aka, continued decline,”

    Dude, the status quo in Old North, St. Louis Place and JVL these days is slow, steady improvement. I know, I know — that’s not obvious to someone who doesn’t live there. Who cares? The current pace of development has community support because it’s working!

    Now, there is decline in north St. Louis, but not ironically it’s outside of this area. Of course, McKee is already buying out the rest of north city under another name…

  16. Angelo says:

    I didn’t flee Saint Charles County just so Saint Louis could be turned into it. Go check out Winghaven for the truly horrible blight that will surely be this development:


    Why does it seem as though North City has to choose between two city models:

    Kosovo or New Town?

  17. Turd Ferguson says:

    To the person who repeatedly labels McKee a risk taker: there’s nothing to risk when you are playing with taxpayer money, bought out politicians, and Northside resident’s livelihoods.

    Then again, I guess we should all welcome the beautiful vinyl that will save those despicable people from their own ignorance.
    Or so the Post would have you believe.

  18. Mary Homan says:

    Mr. McKee is a person too, let’s not forget that. And he is a businessperson at that. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at length with Mr. McKee and have worked with his wife for Catholic Charities events. I really was suspicious of Mr. McKee and the way he purchased land under a million different holding companies. After having the opportunity to hear about the plan way before the meetings that were recently held, I felt much more comfortable in what was to transpire.
    I don’t claim to be an expert in urban land use but as a public health person, I could appreciate his dedication to provide safe, sustainable housing. I challenged him as a BJC board member to move BJC into compliance with their community benefit standards by building asthma-friendly housing in the Forest Park SE neighborhood. I presented to him the social determinants of health and how housing is integral to quality of life. I also was critical of his lack of transparent purchasing but when he explained that he is a businessperson and it would be foolish to “show his cards” I understood–I still don’t like it but I’m the socialist, not him.
    As a theologian and public health professional, I am intrigued by what Mr. McKee is going to bring to the table. He operates out of a spirit of community and both he and his wife have done much more than many others in their position of wealth and status (though I will not comment if it is “enough”) to assist Catholic Charities whenever asked. Places like St Jane Center in Norwoods, MO would not exist if it were not for the stewardship of the McKees.
    I am as middle-class (and let’s be honest, kinda socialist) as they come and have a problem with those who live lavish lifestyles when they fail to contribute significantly to the community. However, not everyone can live on a commune and give all their money away. I’m working on my “J” personality and it has taken me a lot to not criticize those with huge houses and bank accounts. I invite others to temper their judgment as well. Instead, continue to challenge our elected officials, wealthy businesspeople, and entrepreneurs to live as good stewards and with justice. Help them create the conditions for people to be good and do good (Dorothy Day).
    We have failed our City by allowing redlining to continue beyond bank loans and institutionalizing racism and fear. We have passed onto our children the fear of the “other” and of that which we do not know. We have failed because of our ignorance. We chose to build up areas that were safe (both figuratively and literally) and next door instead of reaching out to our struggling neighbors less than 5 miles away. We have neglected our public’s health (and all that contributes to and diminishes health), education, and general quality of life. I commend those who have moved into an unknown neighborhood and tried to do social justice. Now is the time to work together, eliminate silos, and truly collaborate to bring about sustainable change and improved quality of life. If it takes a businessperson with a lot of cash and tax credits, so be it. But as I said before, keep their feet to fire and remember at the end of the day, it’s about the people in the neighborhood, the people that you meet each day (Mr. Rogers.)
    *stepping off horse of self-righteousness*

  19. Jimmy Z says:

    Yes, there are pockets of successful reinvestment on the north side, as there are in any “challenged” neighborhood. You can also find individual properties and blocks that are in decline in even the “good” areas on the south side. The larger issue is one of perception – as residents of our own respective little worlds, we know where the successes are and where the problems are – it’s all those other people who don’t live where we live and don’t know the “real” story and have perceptions based primarily on driving through with their doors locked and their windows rolled up and/or from watching the body count on the evening news who “don’t get it”. It ain’t “fair”, but like they say, perception is reality.

    I don’t doubt that “Old North, St. Louis Place and JVL these days [are all undergoing] slow, steady improvement”. Our challenge, as a city, is that too much of our city is stigmatized by the negatives and too little is known about the positives. If nothing else, a project of the scale McEagle is proposing could change the perceptions of people and businesses who could invest here, but have chosen to look elsewhere. Soulard was once in the same position as many parts of the north side, but as long as the area was bracketed by A-B on the south and Ameren and Purina on the north, they had a fighting chance. The big challenge facing the north side is continued erosion of the employment base (which McEagle apparently wants to address). Money talks . . .

  20. SillyLocals says:

    Where were the Christians when slavery was flourishing for centuries in Europe and North America? A theologian preaches “hallelujah, pray for McKee for he is a supporter of Catholic fundraisers” It’s called blind faith, it is about embracing ignorance. Local taxpaying slaves should be christianized to favor McKee?

  21. samizdat says:

    SillyLocals, I think you should go back and read Mary Homan’s post again. Her comments were decidedly more nuanced and subtle than you are, apparently, capable of comprehending. You make her sound like a fascist. Further, I’m not certain where you obtained the notion she was a “theologian”. I’m a nontheist, and I could talk your ear off about religion, but I’m not a theologian.

  22. Mary Homan says:

    Sillylocals, I’m not sure if I “get” what you are trying to say but I’ll try to respond.
    No, I’m not saying that as a Catholic or anything else, one should blindly accept what Mr. McKee is bringing to the table. I am expecting some sense of decorum. Villanizing someone does little except make the other person’s argument weak. I do believe that without the McKee family contributing significantly to Catholic Charities, St Louis would be in even more dire straights considering all the social services provided by CCSTL (which is NOT the archdiocese to be precise) would be in financial jeopardy.
    If you were to reread my post, I said as a theologian I am intrigued; I did not demonstrate the naivete of “blind faith.” And we should pray for those in power; we should pray that they do right by the community, for the community.
    As far as where were the Christians, I suggest you look at the Anabaptist history (Church of the Brethern, Mennonites, Amish) (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_slav3.htm) as well as the Quakers (who are EXTREMELY active in Africa currently to assist those impacted by civil war and genocide). I suggest you look at the Jesuit martyrs who died to protect the people of El Salvador (http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/10th-anniv.html), or St Maximilian Kolbe (http://www.catholic-pages.com/saints/st_maximilian.asp) who died in a concentration camp to replace a Jewish prisoner. Just to name a few Christians who challenged the status quo.

  23. the man says:

    I think this is a good idea. Something needs to be done. Yes maybe St. Louis wasn't built like this, but look at what north side looks like now, not much to brag about. Yes Mckee is going to make alot of money from this, really don't think that he is in it for the money. I think he is doing it for the greater good. To be able to go back to the good old days when you could walk down the streets in northside and not get shot at or mugged. His mother grew up in northside and I think he is doing it for her as well.


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