ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–His hope deferred for at least another summer, high-stakes developer Paul McKee is vowing to keep fighting to make his stalled northside redevelopment plan a reality — after the Missouri Court of Appeals rules against him.
The three judge panel today sided with a lower city court which two years ago ruled McKee’s $8.1 billion plan for a major makeover of north St. Louis — with shops, homes, business parks, new sewers, lights and streets — lacks sufficient detail to qualify for the $400 million in tax increment financing from the city.
“A lot of people may have thrown in the towel by now, but not Paul McKee,” said his attorney Paul Puricelli, “He’s committed to it. He’s got a substantial investment down there, and wants to see this happen.”
For years McKee had been buying hundreds of homes and properties in north St. Louis under shell company names to keep the purchase price low, revealing only a few years ago his plan for the large scale development.
Puricelli says he’ll argue before the Missouri Supreme Court, where the case has now been bumped up by the appeals court, that McKee’s plan does have sufficient detail to qualify for the TIF.
“In the redevelopment agreement there are demolition and rehabilitation requirements. So, the project they are looking for is there,” Puricelli said.
Puricelli also argues that McKee’s plan is so transformative and broad that it needs leeway under TIF guidelines to bring about positive change.
“The ruling both below, and now the court of appeals opinion, makes it difficult to do a large-scale, long-term project where you have to be able to adapt and go with the flow,” Puricelli said.
Representing the winning side before the court of appeals, attorney Bevis Schock says McKee’s project lacks specifics and represents big government stepping on the rights of ordinary property owners.
“They didn’t follow the statute,”Schock said, “because it was just one big, giant, vague scheme without any specifics. They were going to take everybody’s houses and businesses for a vague scheme.”
Schock was asked to respond to the argument that only McKee has a plan to save north St. Louis, and that Schock is cutting him off at the knees.
“I would say that the people of north St. Louis are perfectly as good American citizens taking care of their own affairs. And it’s the government’s planning that causes them problems. Get out of my life,” Schock said.
Both sides must present their briefs before the Missouri Supreme court in a couple months. After arguments are heard, it could take several more months for the high court to issue a ruling.