Land Reutilization Authority | St. Louis Public Radio

Land Reutilization Authority

Vacant buildings owned by the Land Reutilization Authority in the 4000 block of Evans Avenue. February 2017.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

A lawsuit filed Thursday claims St. Louis election officials were wrong when they decided a bond issue to stabilize the city’s vacant buildings did not get enough votes in April.

The city, which filed the suit against the Board of Election Commissioners, is seeking to be able to borrow $40 million over seven years as laid out by Proposition NS.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The two-story brick home at 3735 California St. got a second chance.

The property, owned by the city of St. Louis' Land Reutilization Authority, was slated for demolition. Then Alderwoman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, had an idea: take money for demolition and put it toward stabilizing the building in the heart of the Gravois Park neighborhood.

The city’s Building Commissioner, Frank Oswald, agreed. Rather than spending $10,000 to tear it down, the division spent $14,000 for roof work and tuck-pointing.

A vacant building at 4030 Evans Ave. owned by the city's Land Reutilization Authority. Prop NS would allow the city to issue up to $40 million in bonds to help stabilize such buildings.
FILE PHOTO | MARIE SCHWARZ | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

On Monday, St. Louis on the Air hosted a conversation about Proposition NS, one of the ballot measures that St. Louis voters will decide on during the April 4 election.  The proposition seeks to raise funds through a bond issue to stabilize and market vacant buildings.

There is no organized opposition to the ballot measure though Andrew Jones, the Republican candidate for mayor, has criticized the measure because of what he says is a lack of specificity.

A vacant building at 4030 Evans Ave. owned by the city's Land Reutilization Authority in March 2017.
File photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters will decide next month whether to increase their property taxes by a penny in order to help stabilize vacant buildings owned by the city.

Proposition NS is on the April 4 ballot. If passed, it would allow St. Louis to sell up to $40 million in bonds, or about $6 million each year for about 6½ years. That amounts to a one-cent property tax increase per $100 of valuation on a property.

Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Niang washes some freshly picked produce before selling it to Saint Louis University.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition of food access organizations is surveying city residents to better understand how to encourage more urban agriculture in St. Louis.

The effort could lead to an ordinance that will remove some barriers people experience in growing their own food in the city.

A crew member with Matt's Health Woods & Wildlife plants hybrid poplar trees in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood of St. Louis. Fresh Coast Capital is leasing 42 parcels from the city for an urban tree farm. July 13, 2016
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A small crew spent Wednesday morning planting poplar trees on several parcels of vacant land in St. Louis’ Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.

A company called Fresh Coast Capital is leasing 42 parcels from the city’s Land Reutilization Authority for $1 a year. The city will receive about 2 percent of the revenue when the company harvests and seels the hybrid poplar trees in 10 to 12 years.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Land Reutilization Authority owns more than 11,000 parcels in the city of St. Louis.

It’s a land mass roughly the size of Forest Park.

St. Louis has the distinction of having the oldest land bank in the country, created by a Missouri state statute in 1971. It was a response to St. Louis’ quickly shrinking population after reaching a height of 856,000 people in 1950.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A shipping container may not seem the ideal place for a fine dining establishment, but Phil Valko knows that sometimes it’s good to think outside the box.

Even if that box happens to be a repurposed cargo storage unit housing a restaurant on a vacant lot.

“Their idea is so insane, it just might work,” Washington University’s director of sustainability told a chuckling standing-room-only audience in the dimly lit basement of Bridge, a fashionable Locust Avenue wine bar.