Eminent Domain at the All-Star Game
A front-page story in this morning’s Post-Dispatch details the delays that have plagued the Ballpark Village development in downtown St. Louis. At the center of the trouble, ironically, is a rather familiar name (emphasis added):
[Director of Development Chase Martin] attributed the delay to negotiations with Clayton-based Centene Corp.
after the company announced in September it would relocate its
headquarters to the Ballpark Village site.
This being the same Centene that wowed downtown officials in September with the announcement that they would be moving their headquarters and employees into the city to anchor the new development. This also being the same Centene that, four months prior, lost a judgment at the Missouri Supreme Court that prevented them from seizing "blighted" land in downtown Clayton through the power of eminent domain.
Any chance those two were related?
Now, however, negotiations between Centene, the Cardinals, the city, and Cordish Co. (the developer) are threatening to delay the project even further, to the point where completion is not expected until the beginning of the 2014 season, and officials are worried that the project may not even be under way when Busch Stadium hosts the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July, 2009.
On one hand, this story brings up the positive side of what can happen when property owners stand up for their rights. Centene, which almost certainly would have built its new headquarters in Clayton had it been given the approval, will act as a major cornerstone in the continued revival of downtown St. Louis.
On the other hand, the last thing that I want to hear over the loudspeakers when I’m standing on the street outside the left-field fence during the Home Run Derby is Joe Morgan telling Chris Berman, "Hey, look at that big vacant lot across the street. That coulda been something really nice, but these people wouldn’t let a company build a building for some reason and they had to move and now it’s just a big ol’ pit. SWING AND A FLY!!!"
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.