City of St. Louis: "Can We Hold Your Bag, Mr. Wealthy Developer, Sir?"

Developer asks city to foot risk on office tower, mall:

A St. Louis developer is asking the city to back his purchase of the office tower that sits atop the St. Louis Centre downtown mall.

While it’s not unusual for the city to award tax breaks for downtown projects, what’s different in this deal is that the city would be putting it’s “full faith and credit” behind the development.

Normally, if a project fails, it’s the developer who’s liable. In this proposal, taxpayers would be responsible.

The city of St. Louis can’t afford to have decent schools or smooth roads, but it still feels the need to hump the leg of any developer that will contribute $1 private dollars against $10 public dollars for any cockamamie idea, like St. Louis Marketplace:

[Plan opponent St. Louis Comptroller Darlene] Green says there has been only one similar arrangement in the city’s history: the 1992 financing of the now desolate St. Louis Marketplace on Manchester Avenue. That agreement is still costing taxpayers more than $1 million a year.

Mayor Francis Slay regretfully endorses bullocks:

Slay said he endorsed the plan reluctantly, calling it the only way to complete renovation of St. Louis Centre.

“This particular piece of property is a cancer in downtown St. Louis,” Slay said of the office tower.

Twenty and a couple years ago, it was a shot in the arm for downtown St. Louis.

Deputy Mayor Barbara Geisman says, “Boondoggle or boondoggle; there is no nonboondoggle.”

“Nobody wants to do this, but circumstances are such that we really have no choice,” Geisman said.

The developer knows that downtown St. Louis is about at its saturation point for suckers, and that this development will only be a lottery ticket in case there’s no honest money to be made. I guess to a certain type of entrepreneur, the tick type, you have to try to suck whatever blood you can from the government hound.

Still, maybe it’s early, but here’s my prediction: in 2030, the biggest landowner in the city of St. Louis will be the city of St. Louis as it’s left with the derelict remains of its foolish and costly attempts to determine its own fate with sexy new sports teams and big, shiny, empty buildings at the expense of its infrastructure.

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