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One of two McKee cases goes to judge

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The fate of legislation authorizing the largest redevelopment project in St. Louis history is now in the hands of St. Louis circuit judge Robert Dierker.

The last word on the $8 billion plan for a large portion of north St. Louis went to Russell Caplin, the vice president of finance for Paul McKee's Optimus Development.

Dierker, in an earlier ruling turning down a request from McKee opponents to immediately halt the development, raised questions about the project's financing. Caplin admitted that the Bank of Washington, the only bank so far that has promised to provide financing, could not fund the entire project. The Bank of Washington was never intended to be the only lender, he said, but said the developer has no agreement yet with other financiers.

Caplin also defended the project's growth projections, even though the study behind the numbers was done before the economic collapse.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say they are confident they have proven McKee did not include necessary information in documents he submitted outlining his plan to build houses, industry, office space and infrastructure in two square miles of north St. Louis. One lawyer, Eric Vickers, likened it to a slalom race. McKee, he said, did not hit every gate on the way down the hill. The plaintiffs want Dierker to declare the development ordinances null and void.

McKee's attorney, Paul Puricelli, accused the other side of playing to the media and a non-existent jury during the five-day trial. He said the Board of Aldermen had more than enough information available to make a fair judgment.

Dierker is unlikely to make a final ruling before May.


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