1252 Academy Is Approved for Sale!
Today, the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) — the government agency that is also the largest owner of vacant land in the city of Saint Louis — finally approved Anthony Barber’s offer to purchase 1252 Academy Ave. This is an incredible departure from the LRA’s actions in recent years, and exactly the kind of response that we at the Show-Me Institute have been advocating after nearly a yearlong investigation of LRA policies.
After all, the LRA had rejected Anthony Barber’s offer to purchase the property in 2010 because, the agency said, “the parcel is being held as part of a larger development site.” The LRA did not specify exactly what the larger development site was. Barber had plans to build a barbeque restaurant at 1252 Academy, he had the support of his alderman and neighborhood association, and he even had the menus for his restaurant planned out. But, in 2010, that apparently wasn’t enough for the LRA.
Nearly a year later, after the publication of Show-Me Institute research showing that the agency rejected almost one out of every two offers to purchase vacant city property, a few months after the head LRA commissioner resigned from his post, after an LRA commissioner met with the Show-Me Institute to discuss ways to change the LRA process, and soon after the LRA began to make positive changes to its administrative policies, the LRA accepted Barber’s offer.
By accepting Anthony Barber’s offer, the agency has broken its nearly decade-long track record of rejecting offers to purchase 1252 Academy. As detailed in my study of the LRA’s practices during the past eight years, the agency began rejecting offers on the property in 2001. Again and again, the LRA said that the property was “being held for development.”
Hopefully, the LRA will continue on its path of accepting more offers to purchase property. Only by doing so does the city have a chance at returning the more than 9,000 vacant properties owned by the LRA back into private, productive use.