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Readers Like That McKee’s NorthSide Project is in Smaller Pieces

February 9, 2011 NorthSide Project 5 Comments

northside regeneration mapLast week readers weighed in on Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration project.

Q: Current Thoughts on McKee’s Northside Regeneration Project? (pick 2)

  1. I like the smaller piece approach McKee has been forced into 43 26.88%
  2. McKee should break out & detail more pieces 39 24.38%
  3. McKee should push for the full enchilada 30 18.75%
  4. I like the project more now 14 8.75%
  5. I never liked the project 14 8.75%
  6. Other answer… 7 4.38%
  7. McKee should abandon project 7 4.38%
  8. unsure/no opinion 6 3.75%
  9. I used to like the project but not anymore 0 0%

Seems like the opposition is shrinking.  Here are the other answers:

  1. never going to happen, will just result in loss of irreplaceable architecture
  2. I dont like McKee
  3. Should incorporate more of the ideals on New Town at St. Charles
  4. Irrelevent what I think, it will never happen.
  5. McKee should be in prison
  6. The Plan furthers Team 4
  7. I hope the project is successful, but that he is a good neighbor in the interim.

Clearly the opposition wanted to provide their own answers!

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Summary: 4 to 1 support for the project.

    Has McKee been a “bad neighbor”, letting vacant properties deteriorate? Apparently, yes. The underlying question then becomes whether the previous and/or other owners would be doing any better? I'd assume that individual owner-occupants would, but I doubt that many investors would be any better than McKee. Which gets back to the bigger question, how do we kick start development in the city, especially on the north side? I don't know if McKee is the best answer, or even a good answer, but he seems to be the only viable option at this point, in a part of the city that really needs it. Which boils down to doing nothing or running with this one. Apparently most of us are willing to try and move forward . . . .

  2. gmichaud says:

    The real danger of small scale redevelopment is the lack of a comprehensive plan showing how all of the diverse elements of the northside relate to a vibrant city. St. Louis is a disconnected city from neighborhood to neighborhood or even from street to street.
    Small scale implementation would be fine if it was clear how McKee was going to improve the urban environment within the parameters of the project area. Anything less, then all of the public monies spent could be for nothing.
    And once again it is responsibility of St. Louis city government to step up and protect the interests of citizens, insuring a redevelopment project that serves the city for the next century (as a project this large will have to do). To date city government has failed to do this and has allowed uncertainty. Thus the need for this poll, when instead, established planning principles McKee has to follow should be clear to all, including McKee.

    • Tpekren says:

      I'm confused, people who didn't agree with McKee's proposal because they didn't want one person, one plan dictating a non-organic growth. That is on top of the belief that most of the properties he bought were from exising owners who were maintaining the homes and neighborhoods. Most of the properties purchased were either empty lots or homes already owned by St. Louis Land Development corporation because their was actually a lack owners who were paying taxes and lack of buyers.

      Now that he proposes a limited area or by neighborhood he must have the responsilbility of accounting for the impacts and growth surrounding neighborhoods. What should be clear is that infrastructure can be planned, type of activity or use of property can be planned. What can't be planned is a market nor the idea that you want a Soulard to happen here, or someone to build large Victorian homes around a square, or a bunch of scrappy residents who are proud to live in a neighborhood called dogtown.

      I got to like St. Louis very the fact that has actually kept some unique disconnected neighborhoods. To put it bluntly, any sense of neighborhood comes back to the northside even if it is disconnected will only make the city better.

      As far as serving the city for the next century, the reality is that St. Louis might have a decade at most before it actually needs to pursue the one other option that JZ71 doesn't mention. That is to physically shrink the footprint of the city at which the cities resources can support itself. A city built for more then twice its current population will lose that battle if it can't make something go forward on northside. That battle will be lost sooner if residents kill the earnings tax in April. And, make no doubt about it, the northisde will be where the city will shrink.

      • gmichaud says:

        Tpekren, I can tell you are confused. First of all when I say disconnected neighborhoods, I'm talking about the parking lots, car lots, suburban style Walgreens and shopping centers and so on that interrupt the fabric of the city. Some rhyme or reason needs to be brought into planning so that these ventures do not damage the urban fabric as badly as they do today.
        Second, many cities plan Soulard style neighborhoods even today, (New town in St. Charles is a similar although not identical example) public squares, markets and public space are planned, and if the economics are right fancy Victorian style houses might be built, otherwise the square may have more modest buildings surrounding it.
        The small scale of McKee's proposal is fine, but it should fit into a larger vision, that is where city government is supposed to step in. There are many cities in the world that we would not be having these absurd discussions because the populace would already know the general goals of planning. Planning does not simply mean zoning by the way. Proper planning creates a structure that the public knows what type of development is to be expected. The developer derives a plan that attempts to meet the goals of the plan, the urban environment and hence the city and its citizens. Good planning requires that the city work with the developer to meet his goals also. I refer you to the Unitary Development Plan of the City of London, which I have cited many times as an excellent format for the City of St. Louis to follow. Unlike zoning maps, the Unitary Development Plan is a flexible, organic document that posits strategic goals. If you need other references to dispel your confusion, let me know.

  3. gmichaud says:

    Improving transit is another broad issue that is being pushed aside. This large redevelopment project offers an opportunity to rethink transit in the northside. Perhaps creating new stations, public space and commercial areas feed by transit. It should be a win win situation, the developer McKee gets a ready clientele to help support his commercial ventures and projects and the public gets improved transit access. Given the uncertain future of oil and energy one would think this would already be a high priority.
    If nothing else it would enhance the quality of life for citizens. Breaking up development into smaller projects is fine, and maybe even desirable, still an comprehensive understanding of what can be accomplished is necessary if the redevelopment project is to be effective for St. Louis.


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