Do The Math: Lindell Mansions

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If this kind of analysis excites you, it’s similar to what a firm called Urban3 out of Asheville, NC led by Joe Minicozzi does. We’re trying to get them to do an analysis of St. Louis. That takes considerable funding. If that’s something you’re interested in helping with please email me at richard at nextstl.com

Last time I examined a cool spot on the heat map of assessed value per acre in south St. Louis. Another cool area that stands out are the mansions on Lindell across from Forest Park. These are among the most valuable homes in the city. They are architectural gems, but are they pulling their weight? Let’s go to the land of cement ponds and movie stars. Let’s do the math!

The study area covers Lindell from Union to Skinker. I left out the new house being built at 5801 and 5399W which is an empty lot that doesn’t appear to be owned by an adjacent lot owner. The area is 69 acres with an assessed value of $9,656,830 or $178,830 per parcel.

As a comparison I’ll use the fine homes of the 6100 blocks of McPherson, Kingsbury, and Westminster in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood. They cover 15.54 acres with total assessed value of $6,431,630 or $46,946 per parcel.

For the question of which land use is more efficient, assessed value per parcel is akin to using miles per tank when evaluating automobile fuel efficiency. For vehicles we use miles per gallon as the important metric in comparing efficiency. For a city bound by its borders, especially so for one that can’t annex, the resource used is land. For the Lindell mansions the assessed value per acre is $139,674. For the homes on the 6100 blocks of SD, it is $413,958 per acre. That’s almost three times more than Lindell group.

But the Lindell parcels are long. Perhaps assessed value per foot of frontage is a fairer metric. The Lindell lots come in at $1,609 per foot and the 6100 blocks come in at $1,211 per foot. The Lindell group comes out ahead. But wait, the Lindell lots don’t share the street or alley with a neighbor. Doubling the 6100 block’s number puts them 50% ahead.

No doubt on a per household basis the very valuable mansions on Lindell outshine those on the 6100 blocks of Skinker DeBaliviere, but evaluating them using different metrics reveals there’s more to consider than what meets the eye.

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  • JZ71

    Most government services are consumed on a per capita basis – schools, police, fire parks, transit, politicians, etc. – so there’s little correlation between acreage or street frontage, yet a high correlation with the number of dwelling units. But if you want to slice and dice, let’s include income in the equation, and charge poor people higher taxes because poor communities have higher crime rates, more demand for fire services and place more demands on public social services!

    The best (and really only) way to increase density is to make land more valuable / expensive. Move over to the 4500 hlock of Lindell and crunch the numbers. You’ll find all four, high densities AND high per parcel, high per acre AND high per frontage valuations, on the north side of that block. Why? Supply and demand! In the examples you chose, with assessed vauations in the mansion parcels in the $179K range, and the assessed values for the plebian parcels in the $47K range, both groups are likely paying “fairly” for the services they consume, especially when you add in the city’s earnings taxes. The “cost” to the city of larger lots is relatively low, and, in most cases, are offset by their inherently higher values generating more in direct revenues.

  • tbatts666

    I am confused.

    From reading your analyses our tax codes seem to enforce socialism for the rich.

    Who wrote our tax codes? And why do we put up with it?

    • Wow

      Tax codes? Do you mean assessed values? I’m confused, 47% of Americans don’t even pay a federal tax, is that socialism too?

      • tbatts666

        I did say I am confused. Don’t assessed values determine what you pay in property taxes?

        • moe

          These reports sound more and more like the work of Darth Rex and “justification” for eliminating the income tax.

          • Alex Ihnen

            That takes some cognitive gymnastics to get to that (false) conclusion.