ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Twelve properties in eight years, all owned by developer Paul McKee have burned to the ground. The most recent happened Friday at a home in the 1400 block of Benton Street.
But before the historic building fell it severely damaged an adjacent house, owned by someone else, under renovation.
“Are other people at risk? It’s bad enough to loose a historic building, but it’s even worst if other people have to leave their homes because a fire spreads to the building next door,” Preservation Research Office Director Michael Allen said.
Allen claims McKee’s 60 vacant properties in old north St. Louis are a liability.
“After this incident will we be seeing an effort to board up the rest of these buildings?” asks Allen.
Paul McKee tells KMOX he has no plans to renovate the properties, “It’s not part of a project, it’s not something we’re going to develop.” He says he would like to sell most of his north St. Louis properties, preferably to Old North St. Louis Restoration.
But Executive Director of Old North St. Louis Restoration, Sean Thomas, says the sluggish economy and a timid restate market have slowed down his projects. “Sad part about this is that we have a number of people interested in doing historic rehab in the neighborhood.”
Friday’s fire remains under investigation.