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Panel to hit "restart" on Ballpark Village

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
The site of Ballpark Village as it looked on Jan. 14, 2011. After a two-year delay, the developer is moving forward again with an effort to seek financing and tax breaks.

Remember Ballpark Village? The multi-million dollar development at the site of the old Busch Stadium that was supposed to rival Kansas City's Power and Light District? (And is in fact a product of the same developer, Cordish Companies.) The development that in 2008 became not-so-affectionately known as Lake DeWitt? That was supposed to be partially completed by the All Star Game and instead got turned into a parking lot and softball field?

Well, kind of like a cat, the project lives again. And this time, Ald. Phyllis Young says she thinks something substantial will get built.

"I think it’s pretty certain that we’re going to have that Ballpark Village area of our downtown core in the next ten years," she says.

A city development board will meet Wednesday to consider whether to recommend to the Board of Aldermen that the project get city tax breaks. The city will then ask the Missouri Development Finance Board to approve  the incentives as well, because they involve taking not just a portion of the city tax growth, but the growth in state taxes as well. 

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in December that tenants are in place but do not wish to be named until all the financing pieces are in place. He says, though that he and Cordish would not be going through the motions if were not confident about the project.

(Those of you who have followed the saga from the beginning may remember that Cordish had secured health care company Centene as an anchor tenant, only to have that deal fall apart.)

But Young shares DeWitt's optimism this time. Cordish, she notes, has chosen to back the bonds itself.

"They have more certainty in terms of tenants for the spaces that they’re creating, and I think that gives them the comfort level to go ahead and pursue the project in this first phase," she says.

The first phase has been cut by 60 percent. Cordish plans to put $150 million into some office and retail space and all of the necessary infrastructure in the first phase, down from $387 million in 2002.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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