Thursday, June 11, 2009

Divergent views

Last Thursday, Paul McKee, principal for McEagle Properties, developers of NorthSide, was in the studio for an on-air interview at KMOX. Mr. McKee gave a broad overview of his vision for NorthSide, emphasizing the job creation oppportunities, the scale of the redevelopment, and his passion for the total project.

The hosts were guest hosts filling in for KMOX regular morning show host, Charlie Brennan. A caller congratulated McKee for his vision and willingness to attempt such an ambitious project in north St. Louis. Then he went on to chide Charlie Brennan for apparently criticizing some of the McEagle's activities on the north side.

A project of such massive scale is bound to generate controversy, concern, and a variety of opinions, both pro and con. What is the role of critics in this process?

Are they naysayers, unwilling to take a chance on the city, or back McEagle in its ambitious efforts? Or do they raise important issues to be addressed as the project moves forward? What will come of their concerns?

There is an ironic twist to this situation. In general, St. Louisans are loathe to change and are prone to naysaying. There is frequent skepticism about the possibility of good things happening in St. Louis.

Against such a long history of public doubt, Paul McKee presents his NorthSide vision to the general St. Louis community. Pro-city people want good things for St. Louis. They are not against progress. They want population growth, economic development, and reuse of abandoned and underutilized sites.

How does the positive energy of those supporting the revitalization of St. Louis mesh with serious concerns and divergent viewpoints about the NorthSide plan?

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