by Ian Froeb
Alderwomen Marlene Davis of the 19th Ward and April Ford-Griffin of the 5th Ward, aided by Democratic state Representative Jeanette Mott-Oxford, are planning a public forum on a land-assemblage tax credit that the Legislature will take up in an upcoming special session.
The forum, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, August 18, would likely be held in the neighborhoods that political leaders in Jefferson City have reportedly described as a good setting for “urban warfare training” and in need of “gentrification.”
The special session appears to be on track for August 20, though Governor Matt Blunt’s office has not yet made a formal announcement.
The tax credit would be a new version of the one that developer Paul McKee, Jr., who owns numerous parcels in the near north-side wards, proposed in the spring session. That proposal would have provided up to $100 million for any single developer who could meet the 100-acre land requirement. The new version scales back the cost to $95 million and limits the amount any one developer can use.
McKee declined Riverfront Times’ request for comment on the topic of the tax credit.
McKee’s tax credit had lobbying support last session from Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and Mayor Francis Slay.
Slay is poised to take up for the revised version, too.
Mott-Oxford said Slay will be a key invitee to the forum. “What I really wanted was for the mayor to directly receive input from city residents,” Mott-Oxford says. “I’m still hoping we can make that happen.” Mott-Oxford says she requested a public meeting about the tax credit with Slay in May and again after Blunt vetoed the tax credit in July. “The mayor’s office reply was, ‘We’ll get the city delegation together to discuss it. If you want to have a meeting of residents, you plan that and host it and invite the mayor to come,’” Mott-Oxford explains.
The St. Louis delegation met with some of Slay’s staff, as well as lobbyist Rodney Boyd, on July 31. Mott-Oxford’s 59th District is on the south side, covering Soulard and Benton Park, but she started following the land-assemblage tax credit after a number of residents who are rehabbing old buildings in the city complained to her last session that the tax credit was unfair to them and small developers.
House members received a summary of the revised tax credit this week:
Subject: Land Assemblage Tax Credit Section: 99.1200 Cost: Annual Cap = $10M; Cumulative Cap = $95MDistressed Area Land Assemblage Tax Credit which authorizes, beginning January 1, 2008, a tax credit equal to 50% of the costs and 100% of the interest incurred for five years after the acquisition of an eligible parcel of land. The annual cap on the credits that can be issued is $10 million, and the cumulative cap is $95 million. Funds generated from the receipt of tax credits must be used to redevelop the project area. No more than 75% of the redevelopment area can be developed by the tax credit applicant. The remaining area must be redeveloped by co-redevelopers or redevelopers to whom the applicant has assigned its redevelopment rights and obligations under the urban renewal plan or the redevelopment plan.
Boyd, the mayor’s lobbyist, says he will push for the land-assemblage tax credit, along with other economic development measures, on behalf of the mayor’s office. McKee hired Boyd for nine weeks at the end of the regular session, allowing the lobbyist to spend more time on the land-assemblage tax credit.
Meanwhile, Davis and Ford-Griffin are working to counteract the notion that their section of the north side is a wasteland.
Mott-Oxford and Democratic state Senator Maida Coleman toured the 19th and 5th wards Thursday. “So much good is going on in Ford-Griffin and Davis’ wards, but Speaker (Rod) Jetton and Lieutenant Governor (Peter) Kinder ignore those very positive efforts in how they continue to talk about north St. Louis,” Mott-Oxford says.