Monday, February 26, 2007

The BJC Lease - It's All There!

For anyone looking for a great primer on St. Louis, look no further than the pending BJC lease. It's got it all...

...the sale or leasing of city property
...advancing the city's bid to become a leader in bio-tech
...expanding the city's base of both construction and permanent jobs
...memories of ward redistricting
...citizen petitions
...expansion of the city's health care industry
...creation of neighborhood parks
...expansion of health care services on the city's northside
...revenue creation for the city of St. Louis
...distribution of park funding to wards and neighborhoods
...the role of the Aldermanic Black Caucus
...the role of the Board of Aldermen
...the role of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment

If you thought the issue was simply a choice between hospital expansion or saving parkland, you need to go back to school!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How it happens...

Does anyone know who the writer of the At Home Blog post linked above is? It's a great example of how the St. Louis area converts newcomers into charmed supporters.

The writer moved to the midwest in 1999, and was travelling on interstates and on and offramps, until he/she ventured into one of our most historic areas, when the conversion began.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mullanphy Community Drive, Part 2

A few years back, a book came out entitled "Bowling Alone". It was about the decline in our sense of community and the fall off in the number of community-based organizations. Fortunately, that's not much of a problem here in St. Louis.

Now in our high-tech age, we have the added power to create online communities. It's easier and cheaper than ever to network with others. Our challenge is to take this easy access and leverage it into action. We need to turn the easy access we enjoy and convert it into positive results.

Everyone visiting STL Rising is aware of the effort to help save the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. So far, proponents have raised about $15,000 of the roughly $150,000 needed to stabilize the storm damaged building. We need to take our efforts to the next level. We need to turn our friends and contacts into partners in the effort. Let’s use the internet as one tool to build a coalition of organizations supporting the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group in its effort to rebuild this landmark St. Louis building.

We need internet readers to approach their neighbors, friends, and membership organizations about joining the coalition to save the Mullanphy. Let’s create a grass roots movement around this cause. Starting online, then reaching out person to person, we can bridge St. Louis boundaries of neighborhood identity, wards, the north/south division, etc, to support a big-time, specific, historic preservation and neighborhood revitalization goal of one of our neighbors, Old North St. Louis.

This is also an opportunity for bloggers to use their influence to engage the community around this specific, community building goal.

Let’s hear from the folks. We need to build the network. And we need a name for the (Save-The-Mullanphy) Coalition. I pledge to organize all of the STL Rising responses and work to join these people and their organizations with the effort being led by the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group.

Please contact me at or through the comment section to find out more about getting involved in this grass roots community building project.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mullanphy Community Drive

A group of city supporters met yesterday at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office to continue the effort to restore the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. It's going to take a lot more than music lessons to raise the kind of dollars necessary to rebuild the storm damaged south wall of the building.

The estimated cost to rebuild the wall is over $100,000. To date, the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has raised approximately $15,000. We're making good progress, but we still have a long way to go.

There's the immediate priority to stabilize the building from further damage. And then there's the long range work to develop the property for its permanent reuse. We're working to raise awareness of the Mullanphy building, its significance to St. Louis, its important role in the revitalization of the Old North neighborhood, and its potential as a rallying point to connect St. Louisans who share a love for our city and want to be active in our city's rebirth.

We need to expand the base of this effort by forming a coalition of partners around this project. We need to come up with a name for the group. Suggestions welcome. The coalition will connect people and organizations across neighborhood and ward boundaries, north and south city, and beyond the city limits.

We are reaching out to individuals and organizations to join this effort. We need a name for our group. We meet again next week. Any recommendations for possible coalition names to take back to the committee?

Friday, February 16, 2007

STL Rising: Citizens, Bloggers, Developers Get in the Mix

St. Louis is waking up. This week's edition of the St. Louis Business Journal features the growing level of interest in the City coming from developers, citizens, bloggers, and neighborhood groups.

It's nice being at the center of attention again. Times have definitely changed! Have you heard? The City is the place to be!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Where is "Greendale" Missouri? It's a municipality in the St. Louis area located along Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis County. Ever heard of it? Not me. What about these:

Berdell Hills
Black Walnut
Burke City
Village of Champ
City of Fern Glen
City of Greendale
City of Montgomery City
Morse Mill
City of Old Monroe
Olympian Village
City of Robertson
Rock Community
Village of Schuermann Heights
City of Shady Valley
City of Sherman
City of Springdale
Village of Sycamore Hills

Anyone ever heard of these places? Every one of them is a unit of local government listed in the St. Louis phone directory with a 636 or 314 area code. Yup, we like our politics local!

Dawn Griffin Real Estate and St. Louis Blog

City-friendly real estate agents play a key role in the revitalization of St. Louis. Check out the blog of Dawn Griffin for her insightful comments on St. Louis real estate, neighborhoods, and planning and development issues. Dawn's blog also features lots of excellent photographs.

If you know of any other city-friendly, blogging real estate agents, please let us hear about them in the comments section. Thanks!

Monday, February 12, 2007

STL Rising: City To Regain Control of SLPD?

PubDef has it. Robin Wright Jones and Maida Coleman co-sponsors of bill to return local control of the St. Louis Police Department to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Change would bring local control to police department for the first time since state enacted martial law in St. Louis during the Civil War era.

New Ville Area Community Organization Link

Permalinked on the right, here is a connection to reach the Ville Area Neighborhood Housing Association ("VANHA").

If you have an interest in supporting the revitalization of the historic Ville neighborhood, a call to VANHA would be a good starting point.

$80 Million Commercial Project Proposed at Southside Crossroads

Project to include a grocery store and pharmacy. Located at I-44 and I-55 interchange, 12th and Lafayette.

Currently, the site is mostly vacant with some existing and newer homes which may be cleared for the project. Does anyone have authoritative information about the sentiment of local neighborhood groups and elected officials on the proposal?

The shopping center developers, "Gilded Age", have a long history in the area, and are also the developers of the City Hospital project located directly across the street from the proposed shopping center.

Friday, February 09, 2007

New Take On the Earnings Tax?

At STL Rising, we try to focus on the positive things going on in St. Louis. One topic that has been a long time challenge for the city is the 1% earnings tax. It's a simple enough thing-live or work in the city, and pay 1% of your gross pay to the City of St. Louis.

The City needs the money. The earnings tax provides a major part of the City's general revenue. Lots of people will say that as much as we wish we didn't have it, there's no way we make it without it. Well, I've been giving this some thought, and you know something, maybe there is.

Sure, there's no way we could say, drop the earnings tax this year and replace it with a property tax. Some argue for a "land tax" (a tax on vacant land), and maybe that'd help some. But it's questionable whether that'd replace all the revenue from the earnings tax. Here's another idea...

The city is growing. We are working to attract jobs, and we are building housing. The city is working to increase its tax base. As tax abatements run their course, real estate taxes can increase. And as employment grows, we get more people paying earnings taxes.

Okay, so I'm not an expert on this, but I think the city budget is something like $350,000,000 per year. What if we set a ten or fifteen year goal to remove the earnings tax? And lower it a little each year for the next ten or fifiteen years?

Say in 2008 we went from 1% to .9%. It would be just a little, but it would be a step. Then see how the budget goes. Apply the decrease to all workers-not just new employees. Then say in 2010 lower it again, say to .8%

Meanwhile, we keep working to draw more residents and jobs to the city. More residents and more jobs mean more economic activity, and more revenue flowing to the city. So say in 2012, we lower the earnings tax again, say to .6%, and so on.

Who knows? Maybe by 2020, the earnings tax is worked down to zero, the city's population reaches 450,000, and our workforce is 50% larger than it is today.

And we could start working towards a shared civic goal with a tiny 1/10 of 1% reduction in the rate of our current earnings tax. Any takers?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

State Lawmakers Propose Massive Tax Credit Program to Aid City Redevelopment

State legislators are proposing major incentives for redevelopment in St. Louis. Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is looking to stimulate a new $100,000,000 redevelopment effort.

The incentives are aimed to assist developers in returning long vacant tracts of land and deteriorated buildings in our urban core to productive use.

One of the sponsors is Senator John Griesheimer. The new law would assist projects at least 75 acres in size, and provide developers with tax credits equal to half the cost of land and all interest costs.

The proposal is part of a state-wide program to produce good paying jobs in Missouri. For more information, check out Senate Bill 282 and House Bill 327.

That Didn't Take Long!

BJC officials are already quoted in the Post Dispatch saying that city officials are sending a message they need to look outside the city limits to expand:

"They've sent a message that we need to start planning for our expansion outside of the city of St. Louis," said Barnes-Jewish spokeswoman June Fowler.

Full article here:


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Entertainment Rising in Downtown STL

CNN.COM has the story:

The Wittles

About ten years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Malcom Wittles took the lead in carrying out a number of historic residential rehabs around Fountain Park. Their projects went smoothly, and the developers were well received.

It's been years since I heard anything from the Wittles. They were getting older ten years ago, so they might be out of the business by now. Nonetheless, they worked hard to improve that one gem corner of the city.

If you ever visit Fountain Park, look for some of the historic residential rehabs. And remember the Wittles.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mullanphy Wall Rising

Seen it over at What's New In Old North!

For the would be rockers and folksters, STL Rising has one open guitar lesson slot, proceeds to benefit Mullanphy and ONSLRG till the wall is up and the bills are paid.

Friday, February 02, 2007

City Defends Use of TIF for Ballpark Village

The City of St. Louis was on KMOX yesterday in the person of Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff in the Mayor's Office, defending the use of TIF for the proposed Ballpark Village project. Based on current site conditions, KMOX was questioning the use of TIF. KMOX was asking whether the Cardinals organization itself had caused the blight by creating the unsightly hole in the ground following the demolition of the old Busch Stadium.

Mr. Rainford explained that current site conditions are temporary until the start of Ballpark Village construction. He then raised important issues relative to the definition of blight. Rainford suggested state law on TIF be revised to target incentives to distressed communities. He went on to identify a number of facts supporting the definition of St. Louis as a distressed community (including household income levels, percent in poverty, and history of job and population losses).
What's your take?