ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- There's a lot of buzz about the $250 million MLS soccer stadium project that has promised to reshape Downtown West. But News 4 has learned there’s one hurdle that has proved challenging to clear and it involves a millionaire from Kansas City.
There’s a vacant building on Olive Street near 20th that doesn’t look like much, but it means a whole lot to the stadium project and a seasoned developer, Matt Abbott, knows it.
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has been working with the MLS ownership group on the stadium project. Based on what he’s been told, Reed said the offers to buy the building on Olive Street have been “very generous.”
"It's gotten to the point where it has been very difficult at this point,” Reed said. “Multiple, multiple factors beyond the value of the property and beyond what any reasonable person would pay for it."
Reed said legally he can’t say how much is being offered but city records show the building sold for $245,000 in June 2018. That was well before any announcement about the site of the stadium.
Midtown STL Development Group LLC bought the building. State documents show Abbott is the man behind the company.
News 4 tried calling Abbott’s business in Kansas City to talk to him about holding out. We left a message but no one has called back.
By all accounts, Abbott has done a lot in Kansas City to revitalize neighborhoods. He was even named as one of the most powerful people in business by the Kansas City Business Journal in 2017.
But when it comes to his investments and plans in St. Louis, there are still a lot of questions.
"From some of the alderman that I’ve talked to, they have not seen him forward with the speed that they’d like to see him move forward with, with the developments and properties he owns in their areas,” Reed said.
In November 2018, Abbott Properties unveiled plans for a project in Downtown West that included office space, a coffee shop and wellness center. But there hasn’t been any movement on the site at 21st and Locust.
There are also another three properties bought by Abbott’s Midwest STL Development Group in 2018 that are also empty with for lease signs posted.
Reports, and a commercial real estate website, show Abbott owns more than two dozen properties, mostly located in Downtown West. Plans for those properties are unknown.
"I'm in this area, and I would like to see flowers grow and a better atmosphere asap, but it's not going to be that quick,” said Roland Page, who owns a tattoo shop near the MLS stadium site.
Two years ago his shop was in the building at the center of the hold out.
Page said he's met with Abbott, and has faith in his plans for the city of St. Louis.
"I moved, it was beneficial for me to move. I think what he has in store is going to be beneficial for the downtown St. Louis area,” Page said.
But while Abbott stays quiet about his plans, Reed said a deal for this property needs to be reached.
"It is a potential that it could impact construction by not having the total land assembled into one package,” Reed said. "It’s a line on a spreadsheet to him. For all of us that live here, it represents more than just a line on a spreadsheet."
News 4 reached out to a leasing agent for some of the buildings. That agent said “they’re in discussion with a number of tenants on multiple, different properties.” He wouldn’t get into any details.
Reed said the ownership group is still hopeful they can work out a deal for the building, but if not legislation could be approved at city hall as soon as Friday to use eminent domain.