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McKee gets TIF approved for grocery and gas station

courtesy of Northside Regeneration
An artist's rendering of the GreenLeaf Market and ZOOM store to be located at N. 13th Street.

Developer Paul McKee is finally using the Tax Increment Financing approved years ago by the city of St. Louis.

The Board of Aldermen approved a bill on Friday to release $2.8 million in TIF for infrastructure around a proposed grocery store and gas station McKee announced in March. It’s the first time McKee has sought to use any of the $390 million TIF first approved in 2009 for his massive Northside Regeneration project.

Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard (5th Ward) sponsored the ordinance and said the new project at 13th and Tucker is in a food desert.

"STL Grocery will bring both food and 72 new jobs to our community while offering people fresh and locally grown fruits and veggies," Hubbard said.

The bill passed 19-2 with two other aldermen voting present.

1st Ward Alderwoman Sharon Tyus said she supported using TIF for a grocery store on the north side where few exist. But she voted present, saying could not support TIF for a gas station.

"If we look at these millions of gas stations that are being built in the city of St. Louis, and I know millions is an exaggeration, but many, many, many, many," Tyus said, "we don’t need to give a gas station a TIF for anything."

Alderman Antonio French (21st Ward) voted against the measure, expressing concerns about giving incentives to build a gas station, but also about McKee’s ongoing negotiations with a community group.

Old North Restoration Group attended a Housing, Urban Development and Zoning meeting earlier this month to ask that McKee give back parcels he bought in their neighborhood. French said a vote should be delayed to allow the group to continue negotiations.

"I would have liked to have seen the committee hold this to use this as leverage to get Mr. McKee to negotiate in good faith, because they deserve to have their community back," French said. "That didn’t happen, so we have an opportunity today to slow this thing down, to at least give them the summer to negotiate with Mr. McKee and get those properties back."

Alderman Joe Roddy (17th Ward) said the group had come to an agreement with the developer, although nothing is yet in writing.

With the winning bid for the new $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on the near north side of St. Louis, McKee's redevelopment has gotten a needed spark.

Within days of the NGA's final decision, McKee also announced a plan to build 500 housing units. He also has plans for a three-bed urgent care center in the former Pruitt-Igoe housing site.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.