Saturday, May 31, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 88

    Left to right:
  • 2624 Howard Street (VHS Partners LLC, November 2004, $12,450)
  • 2626 Howard Street (privately owned)
  • 2628-2634 Howard Street (VHS Partners LLC, November 2005, $50,000)

May 2008

For the double house at 2628, the city's records show two sales on the exact same day, one for $22,500, the other for $27,500. It may look like a price bounce at first, but more likely it's just two transactions for two separate addresses.

There's a definite price jump on the small house at 2624, originally sold in September 2004 for $3,500, then sold in November 2004 for $12,450.

The small house was occupied as recently as 2000. After its purchase by Blairmont, it was boarded up in March 2005 by the city, and was slapped with three code violations. A followup inspection in 2007 found TWENTY code violations. Way to take care of your property there, Mr. McKee.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 87

  • 2953 Sheridan Avenue (N & G Ventures LLC, August 2004)

May 2008

2953 Sheridan is a 1916 four-family apartment building, vacant since being condemned in 2005. A search through Geo St. Louis's parcel history has Blairmont owning it as early as 2004. Permit records show it occupied through the 1990s.

Take note -- all the upper floor windows are gone.

Surrounding this building: a public school to the east. A church to the north. A half dozen or more occupied houses to the south. A small industrial building to the west.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 86

"We will create the space where business and community take place. The innate, human purpose of the villages as a gathering for all people will be re-discovered. Whether newly created or in response to the needs of existing urban areas, we will pursue these Integrated Developments to the betterment of our customers and the community."

                - "LifeWorks" statement from

That's the stated philosophy of Paul McKee's McEagle development company. Let's go to Old North St. Louis and see it in action, shall we?
  • 1311 St. Louis Avenue (Blairmont Associates Ltd. LLC, August 2005, $65,000)

May 2008

Here's 1311 St. Louis Avenue, just up the street from thriving Crown Candy Kitchen. A beautifully renovated, owner-occupied house stands right next door. The 14th Street Mall is undergoing total reconstruction across the street. Every house on the block of 14th Street to the west is either renovated, or undergoing reconstruction. Sounds like a whole lot of "re-discovering" is going on. McEagle ought to be all over it.

So, what's happening at 1311 St. Louis? This is a very urban building, built to the sidewalk, with storefronts at the street and room for apartments above; it's ripe to be "integrated" into the surrounding urban fabric. Or if McEagle wants "integrated" developments in the racial sense of the word, well, you're not going to beat Old North for that, either.

But despite all this, somehow Blairmont's property just doesn't seem to be working for "the betterment of the community". No, instead it's just sitting there, vacant. And it has done so, in Blairmont's hands, for three years now.

Well, okay, maybe it's kind of remote; after all, it's almost half a block away from the new construction -- that's like a thirty second walk, maybe more! Surely a Blairmont house that's right next door to the renovation will be part of the reconstruction, right?
  • 1416 Montgomery Street (Noble Development Co. LLC, September 2006, no price data available)

No?! Man, Paul McKee, where's the love here? What happened to your deep and abiding interest in "a lifestyle built on engagement" where "Neighbor meets neighbor. Lives connect. Families thrive."?

No families thriving at this address.

Old North doesn't need abstract statements about "the urban village" and "all people connecting" -- it's already got all that, organically grown rather than developer-imposed. If the statements above are what Paul McKee truly believes in, then shouldn't he stop obstructing a neighborhood where all of it is actually happening? Isn't it past time for him to step up to the plate and renovate his Old North holdings -- or else sell them off to someone who will actually do something productive with them?

Or does all that talk about connecting and families and values and urban spaces only count for rich exurbanites?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 85

    Left to right:
  • 2731 James "Cool Papa" Bell Ave. (N & G Ventures LLC, Nov. 2005, $20,000)
  • 2729 James "Cool Papa" Bell Ave. (N & G Ventures LLC, Oct. 2003, $?)
  • 2727 James "Cool Papa" Bell Ave. (Larmer LLC, March 2008, $?)
  • 2723 James "Cool Papa" Bell Ave. (N & G Ventures LLC, Sep. 2003, $739)
  • 2721 James "Cool Papa" Bell Ave. (privately owned)

May 2008

This batch is a ragged looking group, and show no signs of improvement under Paul McKee's ownership (unless removing the upper-floor windows is somehow an "improvement".)

Vacant since 2002, 2723 is the worse of the bunch. Its exterior layer of brick is spalling off, creating a hazard to anyone nearby. Have pity on the owner-occupant next door!

A second owner-occupant lives just west of the Blairmont cluster, and three more to the east.

Possible price bounce: 2727 sold in October 2007 for $17,000. It seems to have sold again in March 2008 to Larmer, for an undisclosed amount. Given the lack of a second sales record and price, this may simply be a database error.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 84

    Left to right:
  • 1715-1717 Leffingwell Street (Sheridan Place LLC, December 2006, $140,000)
  • 1719 Leffingwell Street (MLK 3000 LLC, October 2006, $65,000)

May 2008

This block's got three Blairmont units in a row. The remainder includes a JVL Renaissance building, an absentee landlord, and an owner-occupant.

1715 is not your run-of-the-mill St. Louis house. Built in 1903, it's a four-family building marked by light brown brick and white terra cotta ornament.

Amazingly, it has none of the usual hallmarks of Blairmont abuse; the windows are intact and present, and there's been no fires or brick theft. Still, the grass looks like it hasn't been mowed in months, and since the place is presumably vacant, shouldn't it be boarded up?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 83

  • 2615 Howard Street (VHS Partners LLC, August 2005, $25,000)
A lovely little house, with tidy window awnings and decorative scribing around the windows.

May 2008

This is the "wasteland" that Paul McKee wants to "save". This is the "uninhabited urban ruin" that "needs" to be emptied out.

This is the architecture that's not worth fighting for.

Yeah, I don't buy it either.

For the record, the last photo contains three owner-occupant houses and a small church. So who is it exactly that needs to be run out of the neighborhood -- the neighbors, or Blairmont?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 82

    Left to right:
  • 2823 University Street (privately owned)
  • 2821 University Street (Union Martin LLC, May 2008, $62,500?)
  • 2819 University Street (N & G Ventures)
  • 2815 University Street (privately owned)

May 2008
Blairmont already had the little frame house. Now they've got the dull red brick house next door.

When I first documented this block, this building was still listed as owner-occupied. Now it's been snapped up by "Union Martin", widely suspected to be the latest incarnation of Blairmont (the evidence includes: Incorporated only days after the last of the shell companies' purchases. The same kind of nondescript name. The same pattern of buying up JVL and St. Louis Place properties.)

Paul McKee is not resting, not stopping, not altering his assault on this neighborhood in any way. The threat is real and ongoing.

Oh, but remember! Nobody lives here! Wiping out this empty, uninhabited place (where flowers magically plant themselves) is doing a great public service!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 81

  • 2004 North Market Street (N & G Ventures LLC, May 2006, $20,000)
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? Looks inhabited, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this is six years ago, long before Blairmont came along.

June 2002 - photograph by Kevin Keiffer

May 2008

Nowadays, under Blairmont's ownership, it's going downhill rapidly. Copper thieves have stripped off a cornice gutter, someone left the third floor windows open, and the parapet wall is falling apart.

And that's a damn shame, because not only is it a lovely house on its own...'s also part of an absolutely magnificent lineup of three-story, mansard-roofed houses. Both sides of the block are essentially intact, buoyed perhaps by their adjacency to nearby Zion Lutheran Church just to the north. The neighborhood is quite solid; numerous renovated homes surround this location, St. Louis Place Park is just to the west, and to the south, the Falstaff Brewery apartments anchor several redeveloped residential blocks.

In short, this is yet another neighborhood that isn't going anywhere, and Blairmont's willfully negligent stewardship of this building in the middle of it is immoral and hostile to all the stakeholders.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blairmont in the news

In addition to the recent chapel wall and roof collapse at the Clemens Mansion, Paul McKee's activities on the north side continue to garner media attention:

  • Mow Your Lawn, Mister? - from the Riverfront Times

          - Mow your OWN lawn, Mister! - an RFT blog response

  • Developer Paul McKee -- Target of City Hall Protest - KMOX radio report

  • What Does Paul McKee Have Planned? - KMOX radio report

  • Neighbors Complain of Developer Letting Vacant Buildings Decay - KMOX radio report

  • State Representative Demands Developer Reveal Plans - KMOX radio report

  • Developer Accused of Nudging the Poor Out of North St. Louis - KMOX radio report

  • A short video report at KMOV has unfortunately not been made available at their web site.
  • Daily Dose of Blairmont 80

      Left and right:
    • 1820 Warren Street (Dodier Investors LLC, July 2007)
    • 1822 Warren Street (LRA)

    June 2002 - photographs by Kevin Keiffer

    May 2008

    An 1891 twin townhouse, the LRA half has been vacant since 1999. Blairmont bought the other half just last year. Someone saw fit to strip out the upper floor floorboard-ups and windows from both halves. Who would have interest in doing such a thing, I wonder, and why?

    It was condemned for demolition in July 2007... only ten days before Blairmont bought it. City records are oddly silent about the house's sales history.

    Of note, a recently renovated block of townhouses stands across the street. Children were riding their bikes around me as I photographed. This is not some empty wasteland; it's a neighborhood.

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Daily Dose of Blairmont 79

    • 2500 Montgomery Street (MLK 3000 LLC, October 2006, $125,000)
    • 2524 Montgomery Street (Noble Development Co. LLC, May 2006, $20,000)

    Blairmont owns the ancient warehouse on the left, at 2500 Montgomery. It doesn't look like much, but behind it lurks a most remarkable block.

    May 2008 - Blairmont owns 2500 Montgomery, at left.

    May 2008 - privately owned houses.

    May 2008 - privately owned houses.

    The houses on the rest of the block went up as a group in 1905. Their peaked rooflines make a charming streetscape, unlike any other in the city. Today, they're all occupied, mostly by owner-occupants.... all except for one.

    Yep! Surprise surprise, the one vacant house, at 2524 Montgomery, is owned by Blairmont.

    May 2008 - Blairmont's sole house on the block.

    Does Paul McKee intend to force out all the other owners and destroy this lovely block? It seems unfathomable, but he's done it before.

    Price bounce: 2524 sold for $4,000 in January 2006... then again for $20,000 four months later. Did the other surrounding properties see a corresponding rise in value? Or is Blairmont's slumlord ownership dragging the value of everything around them down?

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Daily Dose of Blairmont 78

      Left to right:
    • 2129 Madison Street (Noble Development Co. LLC, May 2006, $105,000)
    • 2125 Madison Street (Noble Development Co. LLC, May 2006)
    • 2123 Madison Street (Noble Development Co. LLC, May 2006)
    August 2003:

    May 2008:

    This trio of party wall buildings stands just beyond the south end of St. Louis Place Park. A decade ago, this might have been fertile ground for redevelopment. But around 2003, a large building project filled this block and several blocks around it with new construction, fitting new buildings in among the remaining historic ones. Why Paul McKee would buy into such a location is a mystery, considering that he seems dead set on total site control. It should be abundantly clear that this neighborhood isn't about to go anywhere.

    The buildings themselves are memorable for their strikingly odd white-with-black paint job. The group includes a single house, a twin house, and a ground-floor store with apartment above. It's a good sample of the kind of diversity inherent to the area's original building stock.

    August 2003:

    The houses appear to have been occupied when I first surveyed the area in 2003, but now they're vacant and boarded up. Still, considering the top floors got a proper board-up job, they're a step up from the usual Blairmont abuse. Perhaps with so many neighbors nearby, the usual slipshod board-up and upper-floor window removal couldn't cut it.

    May 2008:

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Daily Dose of Blairmont 77

      Left and right:
    • 2571 Montgomery Street (Sheridan Place LLC, November 2006, $80,000)
    • 2569 Montgomery Street (Blairmont Associates LLC, May 2005, $23,000)

    May 2008

    Yes, that's TWO properties there, and BOTH have been damaged by brick rustlers. They've totally destroyed the one on the right. They've also done significant damage to the left-hand building, though; note the gaping hole in the rear side wall:

    As for the destroyed building, here's what it looked like before:

    July 2003 - photograph by Kevin Keiffer

    No price bouncing in evidence on these two, but $80,000 seems a bit inflated, even for a house that seems to have been in good repair before the brick rustlers hit it.

    The destroyed house was vacant since 1996, but the intact house was occupied as recently as March 2006. Both have now been condemned for demolition. Thanks, Blairmont!

    Update, August 11, 2008: 2571 was demolished in early August 2008.

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Daily Dose of Blairmont 76

    • 2916 Gamble Street (N & G Ventures LLC, May 2005)

    May 2008

    Vacancy and a Permastone slipcover can't hide the urbanity of this massive mountain of house. Made for a narrow urban lot, it speaks to a time when this neighborhood was valued enough to be built tall and thick.

    Today it stands almost alone on its block, facing a neighborhood park heavily used by local teens. It's been vacant since 2000. But just imagine when that streetwall was complete, when long-vanished neighbors stood shoulder-to-shoulder. What a sight it must have been!