2845 St. Louis Avenue, the turreted building at left - VHS Partners LLC - photographed November 2006. Demolished 2008.
2629 St. Louis Avenue - VHS Partners LLC - photographed September 2006.
Properties in Old North St. Louis:
1500-12 Branch Street - Blairmont Associates LLC - photographed September 2006.
1523 Palm Street, the left-hand building - Blairmont Associates LLC - photographed September 2006.
1501 Palm Street - Blairmont Associates LLC - photographed 2001.
2701 Blair Avenue - Dodier Investors LLC - photographed September 2006.
1449-51 Clinton Street - Noble Development Co - photographed September 2006.
1315 Howard Street - Blairmont Associates LLC - photographed November 2006.
It's not a building, but the vacant lot shown here is one of many holdings. This is an example of where a development company could truly do something beneficial -- lots like this need buildings on them, and new development could greatly enhance the neighborhood. In light of that, Blairmont's silence speaks volumes.
The collapsing building in the background is apparently for sale by a private owner, but at a somewhat inflated price.
Brecht Butcher Supply Company warehouses, 1201 Cass Avenue - Blairmont Associates LLC - photographed November 2006; demolished 2007.
It's right across the street from the Greyhound bus station. One of the buildings suffered a massive fire recently. The other two buildings were not damaged, but it gave the owners an excuse to pull down the entire complex. This is how big-shot developers say welcome to St. Louis!
Without exception, Blairmont properties are vacant. If there are tenants before the purchase, they are quickly evicted.
Blairmont makes no effort to repair or maintain their buildings.
Blairmont makes no effort to maintain the grounds of their holdings, forcing the city to mow the grass. This neglect makes it obvious that the properties are empty, making them an easy target for criminal activity.
Most of Blairmont's buildings are not properly secured, with windows left unboarded.
In many cases, windows are actually removed from the buildings after their purchase by Blairmont, leaving them open to vandals, thieves, drug dealers, and the elements, all of which hastens their deterioration.
Blairmont's properties are also subject to destruction by brick rustlers with uncanny frequency.
Much physical evidence exists to suggest that Blairmont's properties are being actively pushed into deterioration, ruin, and ultimately demolition:
Most of these actions are both illegal and immoral, creating dangerous conditions for residents who live nearby, and preventing other buyers from renovating these buildings. The decay drives down property values, raises fears of emminent domain siezures, and creates isolation and fear. Demolition by neglect diminishes established historic districts, violating the law and endangering the tax credits that ordinary citizens often rely upon to make their renovations feasible.
Blairmont has been absolutely and steadfastly silent about their plans for the properties. Any semblance of being a good neighbor requires that the intentions of such a massive property owner be made public. That they are being held in secret leads to all kinds of speculation, none of it good for the area.
Just as Old North is truly coming into its own, just as the revival of this area is showing signs of spreading into adjacent communities, just as awareness of the housing stock of this area is growing... Blairmont's actions are both blocking the revelopment of many vacant properties, and allowing those properties to deteriorate.
A tax-funded shell game
Evidence supports the notion that the Blairmont companies typically sell their properties back and forth to one another at inflated prices. See 2532 Hebert for a typical example of this tactic.
If all these purchases are leading up to a project funded by tax credits, the inflated sale prices are a scheme to blatantly rob taxpayers. It costs McKee nothing, as he's essentially moving his own money from one pocket to another, but it creates a record of a higher price which would be credited to McKee under the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit -- a Missouri state bill which McKee apparently had a very heavy hand in creating.
Shown here is a small sampling of Blairmont's holdings, drawn from the photographs I had on-hand in 2006. The list is much, much, much longer than what is shown here.
More Blairmont coverage:
A Daily Dose of Blairmont, illustrating dozens of Blairmont properties photographed in 2007 and 2008.
Brick Rustling in St. Louis, a prominent problem that seems to plague a lot of Blairmont properties.
Ecology of Absence's intrepid crew first uncovered the Blairmont operation and brought it to light. The web site systematically documents Paul McKee's shell companies and their actions.
Paul McKee Distressed Property Tour from Urban Review StL author Steve Patterson, August 2007.