St. Louis Public Radio News
4:32 pm
Fri June 12, 2009

Ordinance takes aim at vacant buildings

St. Louis, MO – Owners of vacant buildings would be required to register their properties under legislation introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Friday.

The buildings would have to be registered after being vacant for 60 days - the fee would go up for each year the building sat vacant, with a maximum of $250. Owners would also be required to board up all entrances to the buildings, including upstairs windows, and maintain the property - failure to do so would result in escalating fines. The 1,262 city-owned vacant buildings are also subject to the registration requirements.

City code already appears to order a registry of buildings that are vacant longer than six months and also violate the building code. The new initiative would provide for an online database, funded by the registration fee.

The proposal will help the city deal with a flood of vacancies driven by foreclosure, said 6th Ward Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett, the measure's main sponsor.

"We expect the economy to turn around, and we all know that one of St. Louis' most prized possessions is its building stock, so we hope that with this legislation we will be able to preserve the historic architecture in the city," she said.

The proposal addresses many concerns residents had with Paul McKee's Blairmont development in north St. Louis, where companies associated with McKee brought up a large number of vacant buildings and let them sit for five or more years without upkeep.

"The bill is not necessarily targeted to any individual developer or any individual situation," Triplett said. "We have a situation throughout the city of vacant property."