Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
A vacant crumbles on the north side
Logically, it seems, Paul McKee
can only be guilty of one of the following:
- A scheme to gobble up a bunch of homes on the north side (using eminent domain), and to then bulldoze 'em into the ground to make room for his development dream; OR,
- Feigning a commitment to revitalize the north side, when in fact what he really wants is to concentrate on the downtown areas of his plan.
Curiously, Anti-McKee crusaders seem to be claiming that he's guilty of both.
Yesterday was day #2 of what everybody's calling the Northside trial (for our feature on this lawsuit, click here
). Media coverage at the circuit court has been voluminous: the Post-Dispatch
and Fox 2 News
were all there.
on the stand by the plaintiffs' attorneys, Aldermanic Chairman Lewis
Reed and Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett reportedly both defended the
board's approval of the ordinances that McKee needed to go forward with
his $8 billion, 20-year plan. They both said that a "blight"
designation was declared in McKee's proposed area to foster development.
plaintiffs' attorneys are claiming that the city did not follow proper
procedures in declaring blight -- a necessary condition for eminent
domain -- and therefore the ordinances should be voided.
Former Alderwoman Irene Smith, who's currently the legal counsel for a different lawsuit
McKee's plan, apparently agreed that the blight was improper, telling
Fox 2 News that "the major issue is the Board of Aldermen didn't follow
statute therefore the ordinance should be voided." But then she
...[the city and the
developer] put a lot of focus on the northside development but when you
look at the plan and what the Board of Aldermen has approved thus
far...[it's] in downtown St. Louis," pointed out Smith. "It does not
involve the core areas of north St. Louis that really need
Smith's not the only one. Attorney Eric Vickers told Daily RFT
in January that McKee's vow to not use eminent domain is
"disingenuous," and that the home owned by his client, Cheryl Nelson,
lies in danger of the wrecking ball.
But Vickers also asserted
that McKee sold his plan to the public by promising to reconstruct the
"hard, run-down areas" of North St. Louis, when in fact "the first part
of the money is going downtown."
So which is it? Is McKee
going to ignore the north side, or tyrannically develop the north side?
Can he do both at the same time?