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Northside-Bottle District Combination Hits Snag

(via Flickr/pasa47)
The Board of Aldermen has approved legislation allowing Paul McKee to purchase the Bottle District site. McKee has plans for a $190 million mixed-use project.

A measure that would combine the Bottle District north of the Edward Jones Dome with Paul McKee's larger plan to redevelop north St. Louis ran aground on a procedural motion at City Hall today.

The bill would complete a nearly year-long effort to bring those two sites together. McKee would be responsible for the development of the 17 acres, but be able to tap into an additional $1.5 million in state tax credits.

The initial legislation authorizing McKee's Northside Regeneration Initiative is tied up in a legal battle that the state Supreme Court will hear next month. Two lower courts have already ruled that the plan is too vague to comply with state law.

That was a key point for Ald. Scott Ogilvie, who led the opposition to making the Bottle District part of the larger Northside project. 

"If the Supreme Court comes back and affirms the first two rulings, it's going to wipe out the existing north side redevelopment area, and is therefore going to wipe out this bill," Ogilvie said.

An attorney for McKee, Paul Puricelli, disputed Ogilvie's analysis. The measure that details plans for the Bottle District, Puricelli said, is separate from the legislation being challenged in court.

Whether aldermen were persuaded by Ogilvie's analysis or not, a procedural step that's required by city charter mustered only six "yes" votes, though many aldermen chose not to vote. It broke down this way:

  • Yes: Hubbard, Ortmann, Arnowitz, Wessels, Howard, Baringer
  • No: Bosley, Moore, Triplett, French, Boyd, Vaccaro, Ogilvie, Krewson
  • Present (no position): Troupe, Vollmer, Kennedy, Schmid, Cohn, Williamson, Carter
  • Absent: Flowers, Young, Conway, Villa, Florida, Roddy, Davis, Reed (Conway, Roddy and Reed were in attendance for other parts of the meeting.)

Under Board of Aldermen rules, any of the eight aldermen who voted "no" can ask their colleagues to reconsider the bill next week. It's not clear if that will happen, although Tammika Hubbard, whose 5th Ward includes the Bottle District, was confident the combination will eventually pass.
"It's politics," she said of the vote. "I think that there were some procedural concerns within the board, and I believe that we'll work them out, and I believe that ultimately the bill will pass."

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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

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