Maria Altman


Maria is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio, specializing in business and economic issues. Previously, she was a newscaster during All Things Considered and has been with the station since 2004. Maria's stories have been featured nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on Marketplace.

Maria has won numerous awards, including from the Illinois Associated Press, the Missouri Broadcasters Association, the Missouri Bar Association, and the Missouri State Teachers Association.

She came to St. Louis from Dallas, where she worked at KERA. Maria has also worked at WUIS in Springfield, and WSIU in Carbondale, Ill. She received her M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa.

In her spare time she serves as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Maria lives in St. Louis with her husband and two kids.

Ways to Connect

historic preservation, Landmarks Association of St. Louis
(courtesy of Landmarks Association of St. Louis)

The Cupples 7 building in downtown St. Louis was on the National Register of Historic Places, but that didn’t save it from the wrecking ball.

The nine-story building was torn down in 2013 after becoming so unstable the city considered it a public safety risk.

In the wake of the demolition, Landmarks Association of St. Louis decided it was time to create a low-interest loan program for historic preservation.

LaunchCode, community center, tech jobs
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A former state unemployment center on St. Louis’ north side could soon become LaunchCode’s new community center.

The non-profit that focuses on training people in technology and placing them in jobs, made the announcement Friday at the former Nathaniel J. ‘Nat’ Rivers State Office Building at 4811 Delmar Avenue.

"Take a look at this building right now," said LaunchCode co-founder Jim McKevley while pointing to the beige walls, "then come back in a year, and I guarantee it will not look like this."

(courtesy Ameren)

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed a federal lawsuit Thursday over a federal agency’s renewal for Ameren’s Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio/Mapbox, OpenStreetMap)

It’s not the first time.

Developer Paul McKee is facing a $17 million lawsuit over defaulted loans connected to the Northside Regeneration project in St. Louis, and he owes more than $750,000 in property taxes to the city.

But in previously reported but somewhat forgotten news, McKee and his company, Hazelwood Logistics Center, LLC, were ordered to pay a bank $32 million in a federal judgment back in 2011. So far, just a small fraction has been paid.

(Flickr, Paul Sableman)

Closing economic disparities in the St. Louis region is one key to moving past Ferguson.

That was the message at a panel discussion Thursday called "Eight Months Post-Ferguson: The Journey from Recovery to Rebuilding." Several of the panelists said sharp economic contrasts contributed to issues in Ferguson, but are even more stark in other communities.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The company with ambitions to bring St. Louis' north side back to life is responding to a lawsuit filed Monday in St. Louis County that alleges Northside Regeneration defaulted on loans and owes more than $17 million.

Paul McKee's company released a statement Friday that said the suit, filed by Titan Fish Two LLC, was meant to "embarrass" Northside.

Photo of 25 Street and Maiden Lane, within the footprint of the Northside Regeneration project.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee owns more than 1,500 acres on the north side of St. Louis, but for the last two years he has not paid property taxes on nearly any of it.

In examining real estate property taxes, St. Louis Public Radio discovered McKee’s company, Northside Regeneration LLC, owes the city more than $750,000 in taxes for 2013 and 2014. That total includes nearly $120,000 in interest and penalties.

The developer acknowledged the tax bill and said it would get paid.

(Flickr, Paul Sableman)

It’s getting increasingly difficult for renters to save money for their first home.

That’s according to a National Association of Realtors report released last month that found rental costs have outpaced wages in many cities. The study looked at 70 metropolitan areas from 2009 to 2014.

The proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency | provided

The city of St. Louis expects to start making offers in early May on the properties within the proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

That includes land owned by developer Paul McKee, who owns more than half of the parcels in the 100-acre area.

Until now, it had been unclear whether the city or McKee would sell the land to the federal government should the intelligence agency choose the north city site. McKee owns more than 350 parcels within the site just north of Pruitt-Igoe.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy |

Things are on the upswing for the St. Louis regional economy.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Burgundy Book, the quarterly summary of economic conditions, shows positive trends in the last quarter of 2014. That includes a declining unemployment rate, stronger home sales, and a spike in manufacturing exports.

Kevin Kliesen, a business economist and research officer at the Fed, said St. Louis’ economy is beginning to improve at a faster pace.

(Flickr, David Goehring)

A solar power project slated for East St. Louis is waiting on the Illinois General Assembly to pass specific legislation so it can get funding to move forward.

A rendering of the planned jobs center was unveiled by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis on Monday.
Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

What became a symbol of the unrest in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 will become a "phoenix rising."

That's the hope of officials with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis who are planning a $500,000 jobs center on the site of the burned-out QuikTrip at 9240 W. Florissant Ave. 

The QuikTrip on West Florissant Ave. was looted and burned on Aug. 10, the day after Michael Brown's death.
Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will build a new center on the site of a burned-out QuikTrip in Ferguson.

The groundbreaking for the Loop Trolley took place Thursday.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

With bands, balloons, and the clang of a bell, the Loop Trolley project officially broke ground on Thursday.

An artist's rendering of The Standard, a 465-bedroom private student housing development going up on Forest Park Avenue.
(courtesy of Sangita Capital Partners)

Just kitty-corner from the new IKEA building in Midtown St. Louis, a new private student housing development is taking shape.

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.
Courtesy of LaunchCode

President Barack Obama on Monday announced an initiative called TechHire that will train and connect workers to tech jobs.

In unveiling the $100 million program at the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C., the president highlighted LaunchCode, a St. Louis nonprofit started in 2013.

Derek Laney, Michael McPhearson, and Jeff Ordower (from left to right) were among protesters outside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis on Thursday.
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

What recovery?

That was the question being asked Thursday by a small group of activists outside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

About a dozen protesters called on the Fed to focus on unemployment, especially among minorities, rather than on keeping inflation rates low. They said if the Federal Open Market Committee raises the interest rate this year, as anticipated, it would likely mean fewer jobs.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of last year.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Developer Paul McKee is asking the state of Missouri for permission to relocate a proposed urgent care facility to the former Pruitt-Igoe site in north St. Louis.

The proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency | provided

St. Louis officials are providing clarification of how the city would implement eminent domain to clear a swath of land on the north side of St. Louis.

houses for sale, housing market
(Flickr, Tom Caswell)

St. Louis’ housing market is recovering from the so-called "Great Recession,' but its pace is slower than in other areas of the country.

That was the message members of the St. Louis Association of Realtors heard at the group’s annual economic forecast breakfast Wednesday.

Bills Emmons, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation, told the group that St. Louis is following national trends in the housing market.

new stadium, St. Louis Rams
Courtesy HOK | 360 Architecture

Nothing ventured ... a lot to lose.

That was the message from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Tuesday morning, as he touted efforts to build a new football stadium in St. Louis.

"If we do nothing, then we’re not an NFL city. If we do nothing then $10 million in taxes is gone. If we do nothing then people will stand right here 10 years from now and that will look exactly like it looks right there," Nixon said during a news conference on St. Louis’ north riverfront near the proposed stadium site.

Hofbrauhaus, Shrine, Belleville
(courtesy Keller Entreprises)

A new convention center, two hotels, and several restaurants are being proposed for development across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, all with the Catholic organization’s blessing.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate own the 177-acre proposed site north of Illinois Route 15, just across from the Shrine. The Oblates said at a news conference Monday the development will augment their own conference space at the Shrine.

Guest services and marketing manager for the Shrine Chris Diel said it would also allow them to close an old hotel on the grounds.

May to March Bootcamp, Youth CITIES, Venture Cafe
(courtesy Youth CITIES)

All they need is a business idea ... and youth.

A new 10-week entrepreneurial bootcamp aimed at sixth through 12th graders will soon begin at Venture Café.

The goal of the March to May Bootcamp is to help students start their own businesses, but also give them the tools to succeed in whatever path they choose.

trains, freight trains

Civic and business leaders say the St. Louis region has to be ready to capitalize on an expected increase in freight across the United States.

It was the topic of conversation at the St. Louis Regional Transportation Forum on Thursday in Collinsville.

"St. Louis stands in a very good position to expand its capabilities, expand our economy and expand our jobs in the St. Louis region," said John Nations, president and CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency/Metro.

A woodburning stove is the main source of heat at Marx Hardware & Paint Co. in the Old North neighborhood. The store was founded in 1875 but has been in its "new" location since 1881.
Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio

There's been a buzz in the St. Louis hardware store community that one of their own could be closing.

Hanneke Hardware & Industrial Supply Co., a longtime business in The Hill neighborhood, is considering closing its retail business. Opened in 1927 by Carl Hanneke Sr., the store has exchanged hands in recent years and was bought by Christine Kantis and Michael Grewe in 2011. Right now the owners are considering their options. An assistant told St. Louis Public Radio they'll know more next week.

ebola, Scott Air Force Base
Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio / ebola, Scott Air Force Base

As the Ebola epidemic grabbed the world’s attention last year, the U.S. military began to discuss how it could safely transport military personnel if they were infected with the contagious disease.

The answer was unveiled at Scott Air Force Base on Friday.

The Transport Isolation System was designed by Production Products, Inc., a St. Louis-based, minority-owned company. The co-founder and president, Barry Corona, said they started on the project in late October after winning the $6 million contract with the Department of Defense for 25 units.

(courtesy Prosper Women Entrepreneurs)

Six women-led companies have won $50,000 dollar investments from the St. Louis-based organization Prosper Women Entrepreneurs.

This is the first group of the Prosper Startup Accelerator, which includes a 3-month intensive program. Founder Jennifer Ehlen said the entrepreneurs will spend two days each week at T-REX, a downtown St. Louis co-working space and incubator, meeting with mentors and business experts.

(courtesy TechShop)

TechShop, the membership-based DIY workshop, will move into a new building when it arrives in St. Louis next year.

It had been expected to set up shop in the Brauer building at Boyle and Forest Park Avenue. But Dennis Lower, CEO and president of St. Louis’ innovation district Cortex, said after two separate assessments, it became clear renovation wasn’t economically viable.

"We tried valiantly to save it, but we couldn’t," he said.

The proposed site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency | provided

A proposed location for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis drew criticism from residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

The north side location is one of four possible sites the NGA is considering for relocation.

CoderGirl, LaunchCode, computer programming
(courtesy LaunchCode)

You're a woman with no computer coding experience? CoderGirl wants you.

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.

It’s the brainchild of LaunchCode, the non-profit that has been working to fill the tech-talent gap in St. Louis.