Paul McKee | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Developer McKee buys St. Louis site symbolic of city’s decline, potential rebirth



Since 1976, the vacant Pruitt-Igoe public housing site has served as a reminder of the abandonment many north St. Louis neighborhoods experienced as residents and capital moved elsewhere.

But for the first time in decades, a private investor owns the land.

After years of holding an option to purchase the 34-acre property for a little over $1 million, Paul McKee finally exercised it this month, acquiring the property from the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority. The man behind the ambitious Northside Regeneration project plans to make it the “crown jewel” of his development northwest of downtown, an “urban village” with offices, a hotel, retail and a medical campus with a three-bed hospital.

McKee, in an interview, said development on the Pruitt-Igoe site will coincide with his plans to build some 500 housing units to the north and east of the $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency campus, filling in empty lots and replacing dilapidated structures on the parcels of land he has slowly amassed over more than a decade.

Perhaps more importantly than serving as a commercial anchor for the redevelopment planned for the area, McKee said the Pruitt-Igoe site will again make use of what has become a symbol for the decline of the area and St. Louis as a whole.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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