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Slay pushes controversial tax credit bill; legislation would encourage 'assembly' of large city land tracts

(UPI file photo/Bill Greenblatt)

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay touched on the familiar themes of education, crime and jobs in his annual State of the City address Friday.

The mayor also voiced his support for a bill in the Missouri legislature that would give developers tax credits for purchasing large tracts of city land.

The state would cover half the purchase price of parcels at least 75 acres in size, plus all of the loan interest.

Slay said the measure is essential to revitalizing low-income neighborhoods.

"Such a credit would make it much more likely that neighborhoods that cannot attract new investment on their own will see the same new life that trendier neighborhoods are already enjoying," Slay said.

But blogger and activist Michael Allen said the measure is aimed squarely at his neighborhood, Old North St. Louis.

Allen said it was written with a single developer in mind, and would mean the bulldozing of countless historic buildings.

"It sets a scale that hasn't even been done before, aside from the urban renewal projects from the 50s and 60s that were pretty much abject failures," Allen said.

Allen said there has been a great deal of smaller-scale redevelopment in Old North St. Louis that respects the area's architectural heritage.