Do The Math: North Riverfront Stadium Site Produces $450K in Property Tax As-Is

The Grim Reaper constantly lurks in our city, threatening to destroy the productive development patterns of the past with the scythe of 20th century ideas of progress. Before doing more of the same, let’s do the math!

{Stamping Lofts, a recent $9.8M residential conversion}

A new stadium has been proprosed for the north riverfront in St. Louis City. It’s uncertain whether it will be enough to keep the Rams in town and even less certain that a new stadium would get St. Louis a new NFL team, should owner Stan Kroenke pack up and depart for Los Angeles. The proposal would have the new “permanent” stadium and parking lots government owned and pay no property taxes.

The biggest direct loser in this transaction would be the struggling St. Louis Public Schools. 57.6% of property taxes goes to the SLPS. Whenever we trade property tax for sales tax (SLPS gets 2/3%) and earnings tax (SLPS gets none) or good vibes, or civic pride, public schools lose. Or the rest of us have to make up the difference. The same issue applies to the Zoo-Museum District, which supports the St. Louis Zoo, Science Center, Art Museum and Botanical Garden with property tax revenue in St. Louis City and County.

{J. Kennard & Sons Carpet Company Warehouse $16,313 property taxes/acre}

The present conditions are described as blighted, which gives license to clear-cut the area, removing any and all buildings. Today, the site of the proposed stadium, as is, generates $450,000 in annual property taxes. The Shady Jack’s block of 1400 N Broadway generates 3.2 times as much property taxes per acre as the big box Target department store at Hampton Village in south St. Louis City. The most productive parcel in the area is 1430 N Broadway at $92,557/acre.

The property tax receipts generated today are substantial. If the current development pattern could be expanded, even in a very modest fashion, it’s not difficult to imagine revenue doubling, or more. There is great potential in what currently exists on the site. If subsidies are to be use to increase sustainable development, we would be wise to encourage more of what we have.

{the Shady Jack’s block generates $38,677 property taxes/acre}

It’s often said St. Louis has no mountains and no coastline. What we do have is a riverfront. This area is one of the few places that could be developed into a neighborhood for those drawn to water. In fact, there are plans in being developed now for a very different future for this area. A $300,000 study is looking to revitalize the area into a livable community.

Creating a vibrant, dense, livable neighborhood there could take a generation or more. It’s a big challenge in a region that continues to see slow growth and keeps undermining existing investments with massive infrastructure subsidies on the edges of the region. Smart investment here could put such a project on the fast track. To start, the blighting effect of the highway is an obstacle for neighborhood creation that should go.

It boils down to what kind of city we want. Do we want the big, sooner-rather-than-later solution? In a city that can’t add land area, is this worth the sacrifice? Instead of low density development patterns, shouldn’t we be trying to build more “city” there? That’s the only way we can afford all the infrastructure and services we demand.

The math makes very clear what type of development pattern is economically sustainable. If we can resist the temptation to be awed by whatever the next big shiny object may be, we may be able to focus on building a better city. If we chose, we can build a place where people want to live, and where revenue from development pays for itself. We’ve done it before.

NFL stadium proposal - St. Louis, MO{proposed NFL stadium plan would generate property tax revenue of $0/acre}