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Nixon, Slay present united front at celebration of downtown development

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(photo by Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
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The Laurel building at Washington and 7th in downtown.

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – Gov. Jay Nixon and Mayor Francis Slay appeared to be on the same page Wednesday as they gathered to tour four buildings under redevelopment in downtown St. Louis.

The two Democrats have clashed frequently since Nixon was elected, most recently over the politics of the city's police department.

There's also an ongoing battle over state historic tax credits, which helped finance $43 million of work on two of the projects on the tour. Nixon wants to limit them; Slay calls them a crucial economic development tool.

Both politicians chalked up disagreements to the "intense" environment they inhabit. Nixon said both are working hard to revitalize St. Louis, a crucial economic engine for the state.

"When it comes to keeping score, we've just delivered here in a big way," Nixon told a crowd of civic leaders and boosters gathered in the stuffy lobby of an old Dillard's department store. "$350 million plus, 1,600 people working, 2,000 permanent jobs. That is not possible unless the players at the table trust each other, work with each other, and have competent people around them involved in doing it."

The four buildings - One City Center, now known as 600 Washington; the old Dillard's store, which has been renamed the Laurel; the Park Pacific; and St. Louis Centre - received about $90 million in state incentives. It's the largest construction boom in downtown in several years, which Slay called phenomenal.

"These buildings will mean jobs for people, they will generate new tax revenue, and they represent another giant step forward for our central business district, and for our state of Missouri as we make downtown St. Louis a sustainable and attractive place for both today and tomorrow," the mayor said.

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