Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

City Tries to Revive Abandoned Land

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

City Tries to Revive Abandoned Land

Article excerpt

St. Louis hopes 26 acres of vacant fields and deserted buildings will see new life as the Martin Luther King Business Park.

Carol Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, visited St. Louis Thursday to hand over a $200,000 federal grant to start the conversion.

Fifteen cities have received grants to help them lure businesses back to the so-called "brownfields," often polluted lands abandoned by industry.

St. Louis owns some 2,000 properties, more than 40 million square feet - nearly a sixth of the city. Much of it is former industrial property that reverted to city ownership for failure to pay back taxes.

Businesses often are hesitant to move in - and banks are leery of making loans to those businesses - because the land may require an expensive cleanup.

Browner's grant will be used to find ways to ease those worries by requiring less stringent, and less expensive, cleanups. If a property is to be used by industry, it will not have to be cleaned to residential standards.

Also, new owners will be protected from future costs if hidden environmental problems are discovered.

The site of the proposed business park is bounded by Carr Street, Jefferson Avenue, Delmar Boulevard and 20th Street.

Michele Duffe, the city's real estate director, said the site of the business park once housed companies that may have left behind problems.

They included a plating company that used heavy metals, two junk yards, several service stations with underground storage tanks, dry cleaners that used solvents and a mortuary that may have leaked embalming fluids.

"Each block had its own challenges for a developer," she said. "It has been impossible to find new users. Once lenders started enforcing environmental regulations, it really stopped development of these blocks."

But during the ceremony Thursday, Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. …

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