Final approval of Ballpark Village delayed

Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 7:55 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — The BallPark Village development, a planned district of offices, shops and restaurants next to Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, faces another delay.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a state board will not give final approval of public subsidies for the development for at least a month, further delaying the sale of bonds for the $550 million project.

St. Louis Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III said the Missouri Development Finance Board will take the item off its agenda when it meets Thursday because more work needs to be done on timing for seeking approval of the public subsidies. Bonds for the project can't be sold until the state approves the project.

DeWitt said he hopes the board will decide the issue at its July meeting.

Without providing details, DeWitt said efforts are under way "to get in position to be successful in the bond market." Although the bond market remains soft, with final state approval "we're off to the races" on the development, he said.

Most of the state's share of the funding would come from the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act, or MODESA, under which half of the new state sales and income taxes generated in the development district for 25 years are used to help pay for the project.

State and local incentives could total as much as $188 million, up from $115 million in the 2007 version of the Ballpark Village plan.

State Rep. Tishaura O. Jones, whose district includes the Ballpark Village site, said Friday that she is disappointed board won't consider the matter at its June meeting.

"We really need to get this project going," she said. "It'll be a shot in the arm that downtown St. Louis needs."

Cordish Co. of Baltimore and the Cardinals are co-developers of Ballpark Village. Despite delays, leasing activity remains strong, DeWitt said.

"We have a number of partners willing to hang in there with us," he added.

Discussions about the project began at the start of the decade when the Cardinals made plans to build the new Busch Stadium. The Cardinals named Cordish Co. as the project's developer in 2005.


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