St. Louis Front Page presents St. Louis CitySide, an overview of the City Government of Saint Louis. From time to time, we will take an indepth look at many of the projects in which the city is involved and how these projects will affect residents and visitors.
HUD Choice Neighborhood Grant Opens Up Opportunities
City Hopes 'Loveland' App Will Help Keep Vacant Land Data Current
Grant to Study North/South Metrolink Development
City of St. Louis Named Finalist for $30M HUD Grant
City of St. Louis Introduces First Chief Resilience Officer
St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay Recognized for Support of AmeriCorps and National Service
City of St. Louis Is Preferred Site for New $1.75 Billion Facility
NGA Announces Decision to Keep Western Headquarters in St. Louis
New Law to Make it Easier to Do Business in the City of St. Louis
City of St. Louis Joins National Energy Project
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 20, 2017 - The City of St. Louis is home to some of the most architecturally-stunning buildings in the country, but many of these grandiose structures are also the greatest energy users.
To address that problem, Mayor Francis Slay has signed legislation making the City of St. Louis the latest U.S. city to require annual benchmarking and transparency.
The Building Energy Awareness bill, sponsored by 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar, applies to existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. There are approximately 900 such buildings throughout the City. Participating buildings will be phased in, starting with municipally-owned buildings this year, and expanding to include large commercial and multifamily residential buildings in 2018.
"Benchmarking" helps raise awareness of how much energy and water a building is using. By examining a building's performance over time -- and in sharing this data with the City and utilities -- building owners can better understand how their properties use energy and track return on investment when it comes to reducing usage and cutting energy costs.
The goal of this tracking and information sharing by large-building owners is to encourage owners to implement energy-efficiency measures that will improve building performance, which also is a key component of the City's overall climate protection initiative.
"In order for the City of St. Louis to be a sustainability leader and meet citywide climate protection targets, our building owners must aggressively pursue energy efficiency," Mayor Slay said. "To ensure affordable financing is available for these projects, the City has developed an excellent tool to implement energy conservation measures: Set The PACE St. Louis. This new benchmarking ordinance will bring to light the information building owners need to make high-performance buildings in an economically-beneficial manner."
The City of St. Louis was recently selected as a recipient of a national grant focused on energy efficiency in large buildings. The technical support and funding from the City Energy Project will allow the City to have the support of a new technical energy advisor, who will be able to assist building owners with the benchmarking efforts, as well as connect building owners to tools to save energy and money. The contracted position will be housed in the City's Building Division. Applications will be accepted until March 24, 2017.
Some building owners already have begun to realize the benefits of benchmarking. For example, Anthem -- a 9-story, 424,000 square-foot office building Downtown -- realized $350,000 in annual energy savings after adjusting operations and taking advantage of energy efficiency investments. Also Downtown, the Missouri Athletic Club used the results of benchmarking to seek retrofits to its building, resulting in operational savings of $362,000 a year.
"By targeting large existing commercial buildings to benchmark their energy usage, we anticipate a win-win outcome, as buildings that implement energy efficiency measures will save on their utility costs, reduce GHG emissions, and likely create green jobs in the process," Catherine Werner, Sustainability Director, said. "According to the City's 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, approximately 77 percent of citywide greenhouse gas emissions are from existing buildings. The vast majority of those are commercial buildings in the private sector."
Building owners will have more than a year to comply with the benchmarking reporting requirements.
Voters Asked to Approve Economic Development Sales Tax and Funding for Multi-Use Stadium
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 3, 2017 - Mayor Francis Slay and the Board of Aldermen are asking City voters to approve a 1/2 Cent Economic Development Sales Tax that would generate approximately $20 million annually to invest in the people and places of the City of St. Louis.
As approved by the Board of Aldermen and in conjunction with bill sponsor Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia (6th Ward), Mayor Slay is proposing a comprehensive approach that focuses investments on making St. Louis safer, more prosperous and more equitable.
According to information released by the Mayor's Office, on April 4, 2017, City voters will be asked the following ballot question:
Shall the City of St. Louis impose a sales tax at a rate of one half of one percent for economic development purposes including (1) North/South MetroLink, (2) neighborhood revitalization, (3) workforce development, (4) public safety, and (5) to upgrade the City's infrastructure, with annual public audits?
Sixty (60) percent of the revenue generated by the 1/2 Cent Economic Development Sales Tax will be dedicated to expanding light rail. Its full economic development potential will be harnessed by a strategy that includes innovative approaches to neighborhood and workforce development, as well as investments in public safety and infrastructure, which accounts for the remaining 40 percent of the Sales Tax revenue. The goals are both to give underserved people a hand up to a career and upward mobility and to address the root causes of crime.
The new funding stream created by the new Sales Tax will allow the City to effectively compete for federal transit dollars. Together, these local and federal sources could fund a $700 Million Phase I light rail project, which could extend nearly nine miles and begin operations in less than 10 years.
While the study currently underway will ultimately determine the precise route, the line must combine density, need, and opportunity. South St. Louis has the region's densest communities;North St. Louis includes the region's neighborhoods most challenged by limited access to transportation;and, it will soon be home to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which represents the single greatest development opportunity in the City's history.
"We have a moral and economic imperative act," Mayor Slay said. "The North/South line will help connect marginalized communities to economic growth, grow regional productivity, deconcentrate poverty, promote healthy living, create vibrant and accessible public spaces, and catalyze development in struggling neighborhoods."
Sales Tax revenues will be used to develop neighborhoods through targeted, place-based investment that is directed by the community itself. When residents identify the challenges they face, and propose solutions custom built for their neighborhood, outcomes are measurably better. Inspired by HUD's Choice Neighborhood program, the City will replicate its success by dedicating money to one neighborhood each year to concentrate the program's impact and ensure that the funds serve to catalyze real change.
The St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) must rely on federal grant funding that requires SLATE to prove that it only serves "job-ready" individuals. As a result, more than half of the people who come to SLATE seeking assistance are turned away from job training programs because they're simply not "job-ready."
"We need skilled laborers to build the new NGA, City Foundry, and the 36-story apartment building overlooking Forest Park. We need STEM career paths to fill jobs in Cortex and our health care industry. We need IT professionals to fill the growing demand here in our city," Mayor Slay said. "And, we need the flexibility to serve people who need the basic skills and training to be ready for these jobs or to create their own through new businesses."
Revenues from the economic development sales tax will allow SLATE to expand successful programs and hire outreach coordinators to embed in our neighborhoods.It will also create a Youth Empowerment portfolio, which awards funds on a competitive basis for summer youth employment, recreation programs, scholarship programs and other educational supports for City youth pursuing vocational, technical, and secondary education.
These initiatives will be most successful if everyone in our City has a safe and secure environment to live, work and play. That's why the sales tax also includes funding for public safety. These revenues will serve as a dedicated funding stream that allows the City to invest further in public safety infrastructure, which could include expanding our camera network and Real Time Crime Center.
As part of this sales tax, voters will also see improved City infrastructure, including better roads and bridges, City building maintenance, vehicles, and equipment. This new revenue stream will allow the City to purchase and repair operational equipment and address the needs of City facilities, as prioritized by the Capital Committee.
Together, these initiatives for North-South MetroLink, neighborhood and workforce development, and public safety and infrastructure will help grow existing momentum in the central corridor to neighborhoods north and south.
All of this has one last benefit. If voters approve the Sales Tax, it will trigger a correlating increase in the Use Tax, which is paid by businesses buying goods outside the state of Missouri. Voters will be asked whether the City should use the projected $4 million in new revenue to complement a multi-million dollar private investment to build a new multi-use stadium that would also house a Major League Soccer team.
The ballot question reads as follows:
Shall the use tax paid by businesses on out-of-state purchases and derived from the one half of one percent increased use tax, which corresponds to approval and levy of an Economic Development Sales Tax in the City of St. Louis, be used for the purposes of minority job training and business development programs, and a portion of construction costs, but not construction cost overruns, of a multipurpose stadium for soccer, local amateur sports, concerts and community events? A use tax is the equivalent of a sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers by in-state buyers and on certain taxable business transactions for which a sales tax is not levied. No taxpayer is subject to a sales tax and a use tax on the same transaction. The City shall be required to make available to the public an audited comprehensive financial report detailing the management and use of the portion of the funds each year.
See related story: St. Louis Submits Application for MLS Expansion Team
The Sales Tax must pass in order for the Use Tax to pass, and the stadium will not be built unless the MLS committed to an expansion team for the City of St. Louis.
With the Board of Aldermen and the MLS ownership group SC STL, the City has put together a financing structure that insulates the City's general fund from risk, because the bulk of the project cost is paid for by private investors.
The SC STL team has committed to paying for any cost overruns, and agreed to sign a 30-year lease with a no-relocation clause. Aside from generating significant tax revenues, the new multi-use stadium will help redevelop a large tract of land and create an extraordinary entertainment corridor along Market Street, including Busch Stadium, the Scottrade Center, and a multi-use soccer stadium.
"We have a lot of momentum on which to capitalize," Mayor Slay said. "When I took office there were more than 150 vacant buildings Downtown. Today there are fewer than two dozen, and several more are coming online this year.
"We are creating a City with vibrant neighborhoods, a dynamic economy where entrepreneurs with big ideas are not afraid to fail before they succeed. We have an exploding central corridor that is home to two successful innovation districts, a nationally-recognized arts, music and cultural scene, the best urban park in America, world-class medical centers, and two of the best universities in the country.
"We must build on those strengths, and ensure that this growth reaches more people.
We have a moral and economic imperative to act, and I hope you will join me by voting for the Economic Development Sales Tax and to bring soccer to St. Louis."
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