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Is the end near? In another milestone, TIF Commission votes today on Northside plans

300 pixels Northside regeneration project
Beacon archives | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 11, 2013: Is the end near?

The approval process for developer Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration Project may be winding to a close. Only a few official steps are left, and one of them is today.

The city's nine-member TIF Commission meets this morning to vote on whether to  send the project to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, which is responsible for giving the project final approval. The board would then vote sometime this fall.

All of that would have to happen before construction could begin on this 23-year, $8.1 billion redevelopment of 1,500 acres in north St. Louis.

At the earliest, construction would be unlikely to start before 2014. The project was first made public in 2009.

Here's a look at some of the milestones marking the long and winding road to where the project is now.

Sept. 11, 2013: The St. Louis TIF Commission will decide whether to recommend approval of McKee's proposal to the Board of Aldermen. The $390 million in TIF money would be used to improve the site's infrastructure -- streets, sidewalks and sewers.

Aug. 28, 2013: TIF Commission holds what turns out to be a standing-room-only public hearing on the Northside Regeneration Project. The hearing was the first step toward “starting the TIF clock” on two areas of the project, so no votes were taken.

July 10, 2013: The TIF commission unanimously approved a public hearing for Aug. 28, this restarting the process for TIF approval.

April 9, 2013: The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way for McKee to use $390 million in tax increment financing to redevelop two square miles of north St. Louis. The court ruled unanimously that St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. erred when he ruled in 2010 that the St. Louis ordinances authorizing the huge project did not set out a “defined development project.”

Nov. 28, 2012: The Missouri Supreme Court hears arguments on McKee's proposed $390 million tax break. The key question facing the court was the whether the redevelopment was a project or a plan.

Feb. 1, 2012: The legal battle over McKee's north city redevelopment advanced to the Missouri Court of Appeals. McKee's lawyer said that contrary to a lower court ruling that blocked the plan, the law does not require detailed specifications before the city can approve a TIF. Lawyers for area residents opposed to the plan said it will never gain the needed financing, is based on unrealistic assumptions and will hurt the property values of current residents.

February 2011: McKee worked with members of the Board of Aldermen to win passage of a much smaller-scale project -- a recycling center -- within the footprint of the original project in an effort to regain momentum.

July 2, 2010: Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. ruled against McKee's proposed redevelopment of north St. Louis -- and tax-increment financing to help pay for it -- saying that the laws authorizing the project suffer from a "fatal flaw." The problem, he said, was the confusion of the words "project" and "plan."

Feb. 15, 2010: The first day of testimony in a lawsuit brought by residents opposed to the project was in Dierker's courtroom. The residents said that the area in which they live was unfairly blighted and that the city did not follow proper procedure in granting McKee tax breaks for the first two phases of the redevelopment.

Dec. 10, 2009: St. Louis Election Board officials confirmed that critics of the redevelopment plan for the city's north side failed to meet Thursday's deadline for turning in petitions to force a citywide referendum on the project.

Oct. 30, 2009: The Board of Aldermen approved two bills for the redevelopment plan and tax-increment financing for the first two phases of the McKee's proposed north city redevelopment.

Sept. 23, 2009: Nearly $391 million in tax-increment financing for a proposed $8 billion redevelopment project in north St. Louis passed its first major test Wednesday night when the city's TIF commission sent the plan on to the Board of Aldermen.

May 21, 2009: McKee publicly unveiled his redevelopment plan at a public meeting in St. Louis. It quickly became clear that he had a selling job to do if he was going to win their trust.