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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No way!

Suburban developer McKee purchases St. Louis City Hall, Arch
by LAN D'GRABBE (Associated Press Writer)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Two iconic St. Louis buildings are part of a major purchase of land made by Paul McKee, Jr., a suburban St. Charles County developer. St. Louis City Hall on Tucker Boulevard and the famous national landmark the Gateway Arch were purchased by the developer, along with several other high profile public buildings including the Civil Courts Building, the Soldier's Memorial, and most of the St. Louis Loft District along Washington Avenue.

An associate of Mucker, LLC. (named for the Market Street and Tucker Boulevard intersection where City Hall is located), who bought the properties for a combined total of over one billion dollars, could not be reached for comment.

Mayor Francis Slay, a Democrat, lauded the purchases Tuesday.

"This is a great burden lifted off of the city," he remarked. "No longer will the city be unfairly pegged with maintaining anything--whether it be residential, commercial, public, or civic buildings."

Residents expressed concern over McKee's new holdings, arguing that his track record of land purchases in north St. Louis should have precluded him from undertaking such large responsibilities as the city's main governmental building and its chief tourist attraction, the Gateway Arch. Several buildings owned by McKee's associated LLCs have rapidly deteriorated, some stripped of their bricks and other decorative materials prior to emergency demolitions.

Mayor Slay said of such skepticism: "Well, this is the Show Me State. I don't know what McKee's plans are for these buildings, but I trust him. I'll sign on as soon as he shows me."

Asked if he is worried that St. Louis landmarks will be stripped of their architectural details and eventually bulldozed, Slay stated, "No. City Hall was built in 1898--it's old--and is a prime location for a publicly subsidized parking garage or suburban subdivision. And the Arch has lost its luster--it's about time we slapped some vinyl over it."


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