Old North neighborhood, LRA and McKee make deal on land | St. Louis Public Radio

Old North neighborhood, LRA and McKee make deal on land

Sep 13, 2016

Developer Paul McKee owns quite a bit of land within the Old North neighborhood on St. Louis’ north side.

But a deal between McKee, the Old North Restoration Group, and the city’s land bank could soon change that.

Earlier this summer the Old North Restoration Group asked an aldermanic committee that McKee release about 65 parcels to the neighborhood before receiving tax incentives for a grocery store and gas station.

Within days McKee and the neighborhood group met.

"I’ve always said to [Old North] that I would love for you to have our properties so you could develop over here, because it’s not our intent to develop on the east side of North Florissant," McKee said.

The developer said over the years a few land swap plans had fallen through with the group. Then this summer the city’s land bank, the Land Reutilization Authority, got involved.

McKee's Northside Regeneration owns most of the block at the corner of Benton and Blair Streets in the Old North neighborhood.
Credit Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

"What we did is worked out a very elegant agreement with LRA that if they could find equivalent area inside the Northside Regeneration boundary, I would do an even swap with them," he said.

In other words, in exchange for the parcels in Old North, the LRA will give Northside Regeneration the same amount of land within the redevelopment footprint.

"There are continued conversations back and forth. All parties are amenable to getting the deal done, it’s just working out the details," said Otis Williams, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation.

That includes determining exactly which parcels LRA will give Northside Regeneration in return for the Old North parcels.

So how will Old North Restoration Group benefit?

Board president Travis Sheridan said the LRA is giving the neighborhood group an exclusive option on the 65 parcels. He said that will help the neighborhood make better development plans and keep speculators out.

"It’s just an opportunity to allow the neighbors to do a little more grassroots development and at the same time to do larger planning for the entire footprint," Sheridan said.

Both Northside Regeneration and the Old North Restoration Group have signed a memo of understanding. The LRA is expected to take the matter up later this month to finalize the deal.

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