The Northside TIF and Paul McKee’s damage to North St. Louis is not some abstract academic discussion about what role government should play in financing and aiding private developers. It impacts real people, when houses that are left to rot for over a decade are set on fire by an arsonist, and the flames and water spread to occupied properties nearby. Old North St. Louis has been a paragon of grassroots rehabbing and redevelopment over the last twenty or more years, and it was not because of wealthy out-of-city developers getting huge tax write-offs. It was because people in the neighborhood, sometimes working with the proper government programs, did it themselves with partners that understood urban environments.
These two houses, according to City records, were built in 1860; they have sat empty since I have started this website back in 2007, and certainly long before that. That brick house behind them is owned by a woman who restored her house herself, and she had water flood her basement, had her power lines severed due to the flames, and the stress of almost having her house burn down, too. How would that make you feel?
Around the corner on April 13th the wood frame house below, which City records list as being built in 1879, was set on fire. I had photographed it before in November of 2015 (second photo) when I thought it was still occupied. It has been abandoned for several years. It is owned by someone in Florissant. It was condemned by the City the same day as the fire.