25-Year Tax Abatement Approved For 40 Acres of City’s Near South Riverfront

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Kosciusko map

More than 40 acres of St. Louis City’s near south industrial riverfront has received 10 years of full tax abatement and an additional 15 years of 50 percent tax. As is typical, the city’s 28-member Board of Alderman approved the measure 22-0 without much of a conversation, and no recorded dissent.

The effort, once known as Soulard Green, isn’t new, but has been on hold for most of the past decade. Some big names in St. Louis development were previously engaged in Soulard Green, including Forum Studio, Green Street, and Environmental Operations Inc. The concept promoted in 2009 appears gone, but with tax abatement in hand, the site will be marketed anew as a cheap development site.

The big question is that with context of the St. Louis Economic Incentives Report, what kind of process was followed, and why kind of analysis was conducted before forgoing property tax revenue for the next 25 years? Will projects and abatement of this scale receive additional scrutiny in the future? These types of incentives aren’t handed out in secret, but they continue to receive little attention.

It appears that there exists no development plan, and no tenants for the site. The tax abatement awarded becomes part of the marketing effort to encourage development. Again, this should raise questions of how, when, and for how many years tax abatement is granted in the city.

Environmental Operations Inc. and SWH Investments II LLC, led by Stacy Hastie acquired most of the site in 2008 from Solutia, Inc., which had purchased the property from Monsanto. SWH has reportedly completed some environmental remediation of the site. Additional remediation costs may exceed $10M. The expansive site is planned to be marketed for subdivision to attract multiple users.

According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the site was home to a chemical facility that operated for more than a century, closing in 2006. The manufacturing site used aspirin, Saccharin, pesticides, plasticizers, and other chemicals, leaving behind contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and trichloroethene (TCE).

The city, and especially its riverfront, it littered with legacy industrial sites that have proven difficult to redevelopment. This provides a good opportunity to employ information offered in the incentives report to examine development and produce

From Forum Studio c. 2010, accessed via web archive: Located along the eastern boundary of the Soulard Historic District, the Soulard Green Masterplan has been developed to provide 1,250,000 square feet of sustainable low rise buildings on an underutilized brown field site. The Masterplan calls for a community minded campus site with landscaping that incorporates native plantings, quiet green spaces, jogging paths, bike trails and green athletic fields for use by the local community. The buildings will be scaled and located to maximize the environmental attributes of the site. The goal is create a research and business campus which embody a responsible, verdant community oriented design, that becomes a “signature” for the organizations and companies of the campus.

Images of Soulard Green, 2010:

soulard green_perspective soulard green_aerial_close soulard green_aerial

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  • IWashington

    I can’t tell what the exact boundaries are, but I’m sure there are active businesses in this area.

  • Ben Harvey

    I wouldn’t mind seeing some of this land being turned into a city park. The area sorely needs a soccer field or two within walking distance. Maybe surround the park with 4-5 story apartments and with shops that front into the park. Could be a beautiful anchor for other development to latch on to.

    • You can’t put residences down there, the area lacks flood protection and it would be impossible to get insurance. The only use for low-lying land is industrial, since no one cares if it gets flooded.

  • tbatts666

    It looks pretty bad. Why is it so bad? Not in Soulard, it’s like the opposite of what Soulard is. Please no.

    • Alex Ihnen

      :/ It’s not in Soulard, and it doesn’t look like anything yet. Images are from a proposal about 7yrs ago.

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  • matimal

    All that lawn….

    • T-Leb

      It’s better than sewer backups from impervious surface area…

      • matimal

        That’s the best St. Louis can do?

  • Tony Raineri

    Most everything along the riverfront is dirty nasty industrial ground that creates an eyesore to the surrounding neighborhood. Since St Louis sits on every major highway, rail yard, and the big river, then this site becomes prime for industrial development as proposed. This development will create a buffer between the nasty river and the neighborhood to the west. It will also create an abundance of jobs and prevent another bean field from being turned into a building site, which I am never a fan of.

    • Adam

      “This development will create a buffer between the nasty river and the neighborhood to the west.”

      LOL.

    • Adam

      “It will also create an abundance of jobs and prevent another bean field from being turned into a building site, which I am never a fan of.”

      Bean field? The proposed development includes lots of buildings.

      • tpekren

        Adam, believe Tony is referring to another farm field in the exburbs being built on when we got perfectly good brownfield land to utilize again. Good example is Howards Bend.

        • Adam

          Ah, gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.

  • SnakePlissken

    Maybe it’s just me but I’d like to see the entire riverfront as active green space. The current and future demand (20+ years) for commercial real estate will remain stagnant IMO. Office parks are not needed and will not be needed for a long long time. Our population will not grow for the next 20 years. Not being a pessimist just a realist.

    • T-Leb

      It would do a lot to alleviate the sewer issues also. Green space has a lot of value, especially in low lying, sewer back up areas like this proposed development area.

  • Andy

    I hope any interested entities stray far from the development depictions above. We would then have two of the largest developments in the city looking like an office park (NGA)… Not sure if I want potential tax dollars subsidizing a suburban style office park for the next 25 years.

  • Steve

    Possible site for a soccer stadium?

  • PaulSennett32

    So, in order to attract development to this Forsaken craphole of a town, you people have to give it away? Of course, because there is zero vision in your pea brains, anyone who attempts to develop it has to scrape off multiple layers of contaminates just to get to dirt that still may kill you. And.. you idiots let all of this happen near a river that supplies drinking water and irrigation for crops. And to make matters worse, city hall just lets these projects sit and sit and sit for decades which ends up devaluing the properties even more to the point tax abatements are needed to attract someone…No vision…no plans…no problem right? And after all of that, what will end up being built there? Probably another chemical plant…It is no wonder just about every poll in the world calls UnSaintly Louis the worst place to live in the universe. Cornpones!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Well that’s just necessarily mean spirited. But there’s a point in there somewhere. To clarify though, “you idiots” = aggregate of local, state, and national business and political leaders across the past century.

      • PaulSennett32

        Yes…it was meant to to be mean spirited in order to wake your city up. Your downtown is an embarrassment. A city’s strength should revolve around its financial core, stong base of business, robust restaurant and entertainment scene, and desirable housing stock that helps keep values at an ever increasing rate. St. Louis has none of that. Your city revolves around a baseball team that occupies space for 3 hours a night 81 times a year. That means, more than 75 % of the year, your city really sucks. And it could be so much more…but the culture of the town just won’t allow it. This side of town has been a pipedream for over 30 years and still it sits…undeveloped, contaminated, empty and an eyesore. If that type of open land land close to downtown existed anywhere else like New York, Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Portland or Dallas, it would would have been developed within the first few months of its availability. St. Louis? It may sit another 30 years…

        • Alex Ihnen

          You appear quite ignorant about St. Louis. Thanks for reading, but this website isn’t maintained as an opportunity for people to leave stupid comments. To be clear, mean spirited comments can be OK if they do anything to add to someone’s understanding of St. Louis. You’re falling quite short.

          I understand you’re a baseball junkie from California. We do love baseball here, but I hope in the future you learn more about St. Louis before spouting off in an effort to wake us up.

    • citylover

      Ouch! You sure got us!

  • thomas h benton

    Is this actually in Kosciusko rather than Soulard?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes.

  • Ashley

    Soulard needs a hotel!

    • Brett

      What sight lines? Its not like you can even see the river. I’d rather see some nice brick residential 3-4 stories high with some mixed commercial. That offers some more density.

      • tpekren

        Actually, kinda of in favor of the light industrial, warehouse development as the area is predominantly industrial. It puts jobs back in the city and at same time those jobs are an easy walk from Soulard & easy bike/commute from downtown.

        I would rather see Cupples infill, BPV residential and more Soulard infill including the two proposed apartments blocks before placing residential here because of river views.

        • tpekren

          Talking in terms or the area that got tax abatement to clarify.
          .
          Think JC has a good idea. Downtown hotel rooms are pretty close and if anything, you could probably put something on Lafayette near the Walgreens/Old Hospital development. That would favor both Soulard and Lafayette square

        • T-Leb

          Lots of truck traffic if you keep it warehouse/industrial. Broadway already has a bunch from the big brewery and the YRC hub.

          • tpekren

            Understand, but you are going have trade offs. Regions industrial including the city base took a hit and a lot of jobs with it. In the meantime, a lot of the distribution jobs for Amazon and Schnucks and the likes are going farther out. At some point the city need to find a niche in order to have a healthy mix of jobs that also include the commercial, light industrial, distribution & manufacturing jobs… Might not have a large game changer like Amazon but get the small guys back into these areas.
            ..
            I just don’t believe that every part of the city should be another mixed used residential and office as their is simply not enough demand for it. However, I do believe the city can bring back some competitive light industrial areas that should and can be developed with greenway corridors through such areas. Already can picture revitalized Lacledes Landing with easy access via a greenway corridor to jobs in both north and south riverside industrial areas. At same time you got Soulard, Lafayette Square and Wash Ave Loft District all offering unique, differing residential mix

    • jc

      Soulard needs a youth hostel, much like the ones in Europe.