St. Louis’s North Side should be considered an historic landmark, and real effort should go to restoring the many crumbling buildings and infrastructure. The area should be improved and made accessible and lucrative to the people who have lived there since the end of World War II; which is predominantly, St. Louis’s African American community. The residents on the North Side of St. Louis have been exposed to overtly racist policies, that have led to the decline of that portion of the city. Since the 1950s, residents there have been victims of unfair loan and rent practices, eminent domain abuse, and red-lining; a process by which homeowners are denied loans for home improvement. It was revealed in 2014, that the U.S. Government was intentionally poisoning the residents of Pruitt-Igoe, by testing chemical weapons on the people living in the housing project. The story of how the North Side has decayed to its current state is tragic, and frustrating. It is representative of the systemic racism that is still consuming St. Louis.
Recently, our elected officials have decided that this is the path on which they would like St. Louis to stay. In February 2015, developer, Paul McKee was granted a Certificate of Need by the Missouri Department of Health's Facilities Review Committee, which was needed to begin his redevelopment plan by building an Urgent Care Facility. Since 2003, Paul McKee has used several different companies he owns to purchase more than 600 parcels of land, combined for total of 1,500 acres in North City. The properties are not maintained, and all of them are vacant. Against city ordinance, many of the buildings do not have boards over the windows, some are missing windows, and the lawns are maintained by the city, due to neglect. Due to the vacancy, and lack of maintenance on these properties, the value of surrounding properties is decreased, as well. The properties are sold, from one shell company to another, at an inflated rate. This will allow McKee to take advantage of the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit; and this also distorts the property values in North City, to the disadvantage of the homeowners.
McKee has asked the City of St. Louis for $409,917,496 in tax increment financing, (TIF) which was approved in 2013 by the Missouri Supreme Court. This approval came after a Missouri Circuit Court judge determined that McKee’s plans were too vague to qualify for TIF funding. The redevelopment measures being proposed are unethical, do not consider the historic value of the North Side, and will result in the further disenfranchisement of the residents who currently live there. Properties, such as the Clemens House, which has historically been connected with Mark Twain; could be used as a source of revenue for these neighborhoods. Currently though, they are owned by Paul McKee, and are deteriorating. We are losing our city’s history, so Paul McKee can buy cheap land.
Realistic and ethical redevelopment measures on the North Side must acknowledge the sordidness involved in the history of these neighborhoods, and the impact it has had on the people who live there. The Green Party supports redevelopment that incorporates reparative measures for the people who have been so abused by our local and federal government.
A New Vision:
1. Demand a study of the effects the chemicals that were tested by the government on the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in the 1950s, and appropriate reparations awarded to the families who were
2. Propose redevelopment measures that focus on the historic value of the North Side,
3. Propose redevelopment measures that will be inclusive, and beneficial to the current residents of North St. Louis.
4. Properties with historical significance should be preserved, and legislation should be introduced to ensure this is the case on the North Side.