Thousands of Vacant Properties in St. Louis, No Clear Solution

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis City has 25,000 vacant properties and land. Out of that amount – The City and Land Reutlization Authority (LRA) owns around 12,000.

The City’s Land Czar Patrick Brown attributes many of the vacancies to a dwindling population.

Our report focused on bank owned properties like the one at 5325 Terry – where the 12-year-old girl was assaulted and left for dead.

When asked at what point the city should step in and say enough is enough, Brown said “cities around the country are struggling with this issue due to the lingering foreclosure problem.”

Brown was asked if there are any plans in place to handle all of the foreclosed properties.

“Over the last year and half, we’ve done a lot of things. We’ve asked for technical assistance from experts in this area from around the U.S. Center for Community Progress…we’ve worked with them and more recently completing an assessment of LRA operations,” Brown says. “Looking for ways to make it easier to both get properties from LRA, but, to find resources to help LRA take care of properties that they have.”

Brown cautions that St. Louis’ LRA should not be compared to other cities. He says it’s different here and in order to change St. Louis LRA laws, that requires legislation out of Jefferson City.

Kansas City sold dozens of dangerous houses for one dollar last year. Now, they’re putting better properties on the block for $999.00. Other land utilization authorities around the country have instituted similar programs.

That practice of selling abandoned and vacant houses in St. Louis for $1.00 was alive and well many years ago in Lafayette Square – that’s one way people came back to the neighborhood. Mayor Slay’s Press Secretary Maggie Crane says that program is still happening today. However, sometimes people respond and sometimes they don’t.

“We have been seeing though a real increase in the number of properties that are selling at auction,” Crane says. “People are looking for a good deal and looking for an opportunity to build and to rebuild.”

A controversial land developer in St. Louis is Paul McKee who has acquired millions in TIF money from the city. His Northside Redevelopment Project spans at least four neighborhoods. Old North St. Louis was part of that, but residents objected and he dropped that portion of the development.

McKee is still holding on to the properties and lots, and won’t sell them. He also isn’t developing them.

“You don’t want to tear down every single vacant building, otherwise you’d have a bunch of parking lots,” Crane says. “You wouldn’t have sustainable communities.”

Paul McKee unveiled his Northside Redevelopment Project in May of 2009. Exactly how many years prior to that, that he started buying up properties is not clear.

Crane says McKee has a timeline and estimates it’s this year.

(TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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