Mayor's office excited, some residents upset after McKee wins ruling

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 9:22 PM

(KMOV.com) -- A proposed $8 billion plan to re-develop an area of north St. Louis was given the final green light Tuesday.

The Missouri Supreme court lifted the last local legal hurdle on a deal giving certain city tax breaks to a big-name developer.

But some homeowners in the area told News 4, they have mixed reactions on the deal.

“We had a really good time here and the house was always packed,” said homeowner Bonzella Smith.

Smith has lived in her home for 42 years. She raised eight kids and shared countless memories. “Next door, it’s about to collapse,” she said.

Smith’s block is similar to a warzone. Windows are boarded up and entire buildings are falling down, Some of which are owned by developer Paul McKee.

Smith was shocked by McKee’s offer to her when it came to her home.  

“He wanted to give me $2,000 for my house,” she said.

So Smith decided to fight back as plaintiff on a lawsuit argued all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Tuesday, she learned from News 4 she had lost.

Mayor Francis Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford says McKee’s plan to revitalize two square miles of north St. Louis will be a force for change.

“It’s going to be a big deal for the city,” Rainford said.

The city has approved $390 million in possible tax incentives over two decades for McKee. The plan is to group together and then clean up large chunks of blighted land to attract big business.

“At the end of the day, the Holy Grail is a whole bunch of new jobs and rebuilding the neighborhoods within the area,” Rainford said. “I don’t think anyone is smart enough to predict whether it will happen exactly as he envisions it, but if it does, it will be spectacular,” Rainford said.

McKee didn’t return calls for comment. Rainford says development projects could begin soon.

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