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Slay Spokesperson: City Hall Not Sending Mixed Signals on Preservation

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says he’s not sending mixed signals about preserving the city’s historic past.

Some have wondered why the mayor signed a redevelopment measure that could lead to the demolition of two downtown buildings at 10th and Locust Streets just days after meeting with preservationists on ways to save historic structures.

Slay’s communications director Maggie Crane says that by signing Ward 7 Alderwoman Phyllis Young’s bill, the mayor was not giving a green light to send in the wrecking ball.

“That is not a death sentence for those buildings,” she said. “They will have to go through the preservation review process, just like any other building would. So by signing that bill, it’s not an automatic death sentence.”

She says one message City Hall wants to send is for building owners to take responsibility for their own property and not dump their problems on the city.

“This redevelopment project is just that; to spark redevelopment along the Locust Street corridor where the old Roberts Builders properties were and now there’s a new developer in town,” Crane added.

That new developer is UrbanStreet Group of Chicago which bought the buildings at 921 and 923 Locust, along with the Roberts Tower, from Steven and Michael Roberts. The four-story building at 921 Locust dates back nearly a century; the four-story one at 923 Locust is even older. The bill signed by Mayor Slay last week grants the developers a decade of real estate tax abatement on the properties.

Crane says people have to realize that supporting preservation and actually putting those plans into action are two different things.

“You’re going to have to come up with that money somehow and it’s going to come from the people in some capacity,” she says. “So whether it’s a small fee on permits, for example, maybe that’s an option. But this is all stuff that’s on the table.”

Slay was unavailable to comment Tuesday because he is at home nursing a bad back, something he mentioned on his Twitter account.

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