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Poll: thoughts on Judge Dierker’s ruling on the NorthSide TIF

You’ve probably heard the news by now:

“A St. Louis judge threw out a city ordinance Friday that authorized $390 million in tax increment financing — the largest in the city’s history — for Paul McKee Jr.’s $8.1 billion NorthSide redevelopment.”

The poll this week is about the decision of Judge Dierker with respect to the TIF ordinance.  The provided answers give you two levels of positive and negative as well as a neutral — they are presented in a random order. You can also provide your own answer and add your comment below.
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Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Aslanlives says:

    The Judge was way off on this one. Ironic that those who brought the suit, benefitted from the very thing they brought suit over. The simple solution would have been not to have included them in the area earmarked “blight” area. Time for some forward thinking people. Time for us to have a larger vision of ourselves!!!

  2. JZ71 says:

    I have a lot of respect with Judge Dierker, and from a legal perspective, it seems like he made the right decision. I also have a lot of respect for Paul McKee and his vision, seeing it as a great, and potentially only, way to jump start development, not just within the project's boundary, but for the entire city. Hopefully, progress continues, albeit in a somewhat altered format, with more specifics.

  3. Chris says:

    I read the entire decision by Dierker. I think the sentence that summed it up best was when he said the chance of this actually happening as planned was next to impossible. This whole thing was so sleazy from the beginning: from the harassment of residents by McKee's purchasing agents; the neglect of properties which in turn dragged down property values, rendering people's houses worthless; to the obvious political corruption. I challenge anyone who thought this was a great idea to talk to someone ACTUALLY negatively affected by his stupid, impossible plans over the last five years. Seriously, again as Dierker reminds us, they actually expected 10,000 new residents to buy 450,000 dollar houses in JeffVanderLou???? Sure, McKee has a “vision”, a horribly shortsighted, totally unfeasible vision. It had already been shown that the alderman and women in the area had been bought off by McKee. That's democracy? Thomas Jefferson would be proud of the judge's decision.

  4. Karen Simmons says:

    Unless folks have been traveling through North St. Louis with their eyes “wide shut”, this was a bad decision. In light of the fact that: 1. NONE, I repeat NONE of the properties acquired by McKee were acquired using eminent domain. 2. Failing to allow adjustments to be made to the plan that would have left the homes of those who brought the suit, out of blighted area, still leaving the plan in tact, was short sighted! 3. Knowing that it's going to take major infusion of improvements to infrastructure, homes, businesses and job creation to bring projected change to pass, what the judge's decision did do was further reinforce the backwards thinking mind set of those who live in St. Louis and give people more reasons to get the heck out of Dodge even sooner. Does it sound like a further decline in our already low population base?

    Finally, folks should spend far less time looking at “what somebody is going to make” and focus on the benefit to the whole. Remember, what God has for you, me, McKee, St. Louis and everybody else is for them and all the devils in hell can not stop good from coming to pass! There's far too much cynicism as it relates to making money. Capitalism still beats, socialism and communism, any day of the week. I'm beginning to think that much of St. Louis' backwards thinking is related to it's deep seeded money rejection complex that hovers over our city. Last time I checked, people are in business to, MAKE MONEY.

    It is imperative that blacks and whites stop reinforcing the racial polarazation this city has suffered far too much from already. Folks continuing to bring up the “Team Four Plan”, the myths that they are just going to move all the black folks out of the city and the myth that “low to moderate” income folk will have no where to go, is sad! The problem IS the high concentration of too many low to moderate, section eight, and renters with no vested interest, in one area (not to say all renters don't have an interest). Iron sharpens iron. What's wrong with welcoming “homeowners” to the mix. Middle, upper and dare I say upper, upper income folks to an area that would definetly transform it into a much needed community vs a much feared 'HOOD'!!! Time to wake up St. Louis!

    Bad decision…but, the fat lady hasn't sung yet!!!!

    • mike says:

      Well stated. Downtown St. Louis needs a safe near northside in order to prosper. White or black, property owners are better citizens, generally speaking. This project will likely proceed eventually.

      • JZ71 says:

        Agree. Redevelopment, especially at this scale, will never make everyone happy. If you don't want to sell, you won't be happy. If you're renting, and you're rent goes up, you won't be happy, even if the area is improving. If your neighbors move away, for whatever reason, you probably won't be happy. And if your taxes go up, because your property is worth more, you won't be happy, either. All of these things define gentrification.

        Unfortunately, neighborhoods never “stay the same”; they're either getting better or they're getting worse. And without reinvestment, by individual property owners, by the city, by businesses and by local institutions, all you get is decay. And as Karen pointed out in a subsequent comment, “Folks keep talking about this bottom up development, we've been doing that for 40 years now and look what it's produced.” Not much. Yes there are individual properties and pockets of success. But, overall, the differences between now and 25 years ago are pretty disheartening

        We have big challenges and we need a successful, big project to both focus our efforts and to become a symbol of our new direction. Whether it's the Pearl District in Portland, Stapleton in Denver or the old Texas Stadium site in Irving, Texas, having a comprehensive plan and the resources to pull it off, have made projects reality. For better or worse, we're not seeing that level of leadership from our government, here, so it falls, by default, to the private sector to make anything happen.

        Is McKee the best man for the job? Are his plans/vision the best solution? I don't know, but I give him a LOT of credit for putting his money where his mouth is. It's easy to have an opinion – we all express ours here on a regular basis. But to move beyond complaining, to taking positive action, is a HUGE step.

  5. adamflath says:

    I wish I could find the original TIF application. I remember that the way McKee projected out the future value of the homes he was planning to build were totally unrealistic. It was something like 5-10% increase in the property values which translate to more tax revenue to cover the $390 million. But when you saw the actual figures in the appendix, they were laughable. So i applaud McKee's vision, but even he himself realizes it is not financially plausible. (Unless he can rip off the tax payers by tricking the alderman to give him a TIF which isnt worth what he said it was. 🙁

    • Karen says:

      The increased POPULATION alone would raise the tax base. Hello!!!! That's just having folks move into homes with a mere median value of let's say, $130,000. There must be something in the water in St. Louis. No wonder folk think we are so backwoods backwards in our thinking! Geez. If you keep reading, and read between the lines, it's simply all about control. Folks keep talking about this bottom up development, we've been doing that for 40 years now and look what it's produced. Bottom up, scattered sites housing does not work people! I'm gonna start telling people I'm from Podunk City, MO!

      • adamflath says:

        I suggest you read the TIF, it takes all that into consideration. The
        values they suggested rivaled Clayton property values.

        • Karen says:

          I read it month's ago, that's why I support. What I know for sure…the development will continue. Insanity and life as it is can not continue on the NorthSide!

    • mike says:

      The tiff is only 5% of the total cost of the project. And 85% of the tiff would be used for infrastructure. Sounds reasonable. In addition, no lending institutions will commit to the project without the tiff. So no tiff – no development. And given the dynamics of the neighborhood, there is no way the near north-side can be developed in piecemeal fashion. It's an all or nothing proposition.

  6. Tpekren says:

    To me the decision was two parts, the judge ruling based on defintions and how they apply to law. The online Beacon ran a great story on how law specifies project and McKee provided a vision or plan. Two different things that might very well stand up in any appeall process. The second part was a clear biased emotion on part of the judge. Yes it might take a miracle or might be considered a hail mary of a plan but that doesn't mean its his decision. I clearly think he stepped over the line in that regards and does no favors to anybody, especially the city

    So where do we go from here. appeals? more fighting? more lawyers? more I told you so? I for one would hope that McKee and St Louis could rewrite a TIF around Phase A and Phase B. These two areas are clearly commercial and would not impact residential neighborshoods. Also, you could much more specific in the TIF application, like what streets are rebuilt, what sewers replaced, and size office/commercial/retail is being proposed. In other words, a plan becomes very much a project as defined by the judge himself.

    In the meantime, the reality is that their will not be an influx of residents or development into northside until one thing happens. That one thing is a significant influx of jobs. In that regards, McKee's plan ties the north and west ends into a greater downtown by emphasizing infrastructure and using underutilized space. Downtown itself has core employment base, strong parks and attractions as well as significant entertainment venues. This city can forward with some semblence of a vision or put itself in a position that the only alternative is openly discuss downsizing the city.

  7. Cheryl says:

    Bill McClellan's column today supports Judge Dierker's decision and I fully agree.
    For example,
    “In his ruling, Dierker mentioned the testimony of Michele Boldrin, chairman of the economics department at Washington University. The testimony was in February, and it was devastating. Boldrin had reviewed the documents McKee submitted to the city for tax increment financing.

    “This is something, if an MBA student came up with it, I'd throw him out of my office,” Boldrin testified. He also ridiculed the notion that McKee could sell $2.6 billion worth of single-family homes for an average price of more than $450,000. That's almost 6,000 homes.”


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