In attempt to keep major employer, eminent domain approved for n - KMOV.com

In attempt to keep major employer, eminent domain approved for north city site

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) – St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a plan Friday to use eminent domain to clear homes and businesses from land in north St. Louis in attempt to keep a major employer.

Aldermen voted 17-11 in favor of a plan to buy 100 acres of land in the 3rd and 5th wards to make room for a possible new headquarters for the National Geospatial Agency (NGA). The agency, which is currently based in Soulard, is considering moving to St. Clair County, Fenton, Mehlville, or north St. Louis.

Supporters of the proposal have said the city can’t afford to lose the jobs and tax revenue from the employees of the NGA. Residents of homes that may be torn down told News 4 they are not giving up.

“There is no dollar figure on it. There is a heritage in our home and I don’t feel that it’s right for it to be taken from me,” said Charlesetta Taylor. Taylor, 79, grew up in the home she resides in. “I don’t intend to lay down and give up the homes we want. I am not the only homeowner in that site who does not want to sell.”

Opponents told News 4 earnings and sales tax will be lost if the homes are torn down.

“There are businesses with employees that pay both earnings tax and sales tax on their sales,” said Alderman Antonio French.

An advisor to Mayor Francis Slay said homeowners will be treated fairly.

“If it does come down to a buyout, the people in the project area are going to be treated very fairly and with respect and sensitivity. Unfortunately, this is what we have to do in order to keep this important federal installation in the city of St. Louis, which needs economic activity,” Jeff Rainford said.

The proposed site is from just north of Cass Avenue to Montgomery Street and is bordered by North Jefferson Avenue and North 22nd Street on the east and west.

City officials said they are will work on deals to buy up the land almost immediately. The NGA said it will pick a site for its new home in 2016. 

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