City politicians are happy this week: nothing has to change. The NGA announced that Saint Louis was their preferred location for their new campus. A few dozen families will be kicked out of their homes to make room for the NGA, but the people in charge can avoid another embarrassing relocation away from the city, like with the Rams or Hardee’s.
As with any action from the Saint Louis city government, there are winners and losers. The obvious winner here is the land developer behind the NorthSide Regeneration project, which will get what amounts to a bailout with this deal. The city as a whole? Saint Louis will pay for the land it will turn over (at no charge) to the NGA. Because the NGA was already located in Saint Louis, the effect on the city economy will be minimal. The NGA may add more jobs, but nothing that one could expect to reverse Saint Louis’s long decline.
The families who will be forced out of their homes are the ones losing out. They face an uncertain future, and if the NGA’s decision is finalized, they’ll need to navigate the eminent domain process and find new places to live.
In Saint Louis, political officials seem to prefer looking for shortcuts to development and lack enthusiasm for pursuing the hard but boring path to civic success: low taxes, a level economic playing field, and quality essential services. Meanwhile, those without political connections or wealth are swept aside.
Will things ever change for this city?