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St. Clair County approves scaled-down warehouse at MidAmerica Airport

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St. Clair County on Thursday renegotiated a deal with a Wall Street investor who wants to build a warehouse at MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Ill.

St. Clair County officials on Thursday approved a greatly scaled back plan for a privately-financed cargo warehouse at MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Ill.

John G. Hewitt, a Wall Street veteran, unveiled his plans for a 62500 square-foot, $6 million warehouse last November.  St. Clair County agreed to lease almost 27 acres to Hewitt, provide $250,000 toward construction, and provide equipment for a chilled warehouse. He faced a September deadline to complete work.

Under the new deal, Hewitt will build a 30000-square-foot facility on just over an acre of land, at a cost of about $2.5 million. He'll no longer need the chilling equipment, but the county will still kick in $250,000.

Tim Cantwell, the airport's director, called it a good deal.

"At the end of 22 years, the county owns the building," Cantwell said. "He pays all the taxes on any building he builds on there."

Hewitt's deadline has also been extended to July 1, 2012, but contracts will have to be signed by Jan. 1, Cantwell said.  He also said the changes approved by the St. Clair County Public Building Commission were reasonable, and did not rule out future renegotiations.

"He has proven that he has some partners, and he does have a user for the building," Cantwell said. "If he comes to us and proves to us again that he does have viable work and he's going to get close to the deadline, that'll be a second conversation I think the county will entertain."

Cantwell would not reveal the potential tenant's name.

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

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