St. Louis Public Radio News
10:34 am
Mon January 25, 2010

Trial delayed in suit against McKee tax credit

St. Louis – Opponents of an $8 billion redevelopment plan for north St. Louis say they'll press forward with their lawsuit even though a trial that was to begin this week has been delayed. The trial was delayed because Richard Callahan, the judge in the case, was sworn in Friday as St. Louis' new federal prosecutor.

Developer Paul McKee wants to build homes and businesses across two square miles of the city. And he's already received more than $19 million in tax credits from the state for buying up hundreds of properties.

But plaintiff's attorney and former St. Louis Alderwoman Irene J. Smith said McKee shouldn't get public money because he hasn't done anything with the land.

Smith said unlike historic preservation credits, the new Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit carries few requirements.

"With the historic tax credits, you actually have to spend money on preserving a historic piece of property," Smith said. "Whereas in this case, the tax credit is merely tied to the assembling of land."

McKee has said he's already spent millions of his own money to buy property, and tax credits are key to revitalizing a part of the city that has been in decline for decades.

A separate lawsuit challenges the city's use of tax-increment financing for the project.