By. Chris Stritzel
When Paul McKee acquired over 500 acres of land on the Northside for his failed "Northside Regeneration" project, many thought it could be a savior. However, after years of gathering up land, nothing has been done but the land area has changed in size and buildings have burned down (including the Clemens Mansion). The only real big victory was the NGA West selecting Northside as its new home. However, the lack of movement on any kind of project in Paul McKee's area is shocking. So far, Pruitt Igoe has been cleared for "Healthworks Village" and a Grocery store and Gas Station on North Tucker is ready to go, but questions still swirl over what his real ambitions are.
Paul McKee received a special tax credit from the City when he set out to conduct his mega project. It was a secret tax credit and was repealed unanimously in the Board of Aldermen on the 17th. Alderwoman Cara Spencer (20th Ward) proposed the bill. Civic trust with Paul McKee is gone, and the repeal of the credit is the first step in allowing the land to be broken up and sold to other, trusted, developers. Even small organizations like Old North Restoration Group are helping bring the Northside back to life. Many places on the Northside have projects lined up or underway, except for Paul McKee's property.
At the rate of development happening in Paul McKee's property, he will be dead and I'll be in my mid-40s once anything significant happens that the North will benefit from. The NGA doesn't count as it is not open to the public. He claims to have money but I question that since all we see for Northside Regeneration are renderings and sketches of things. Those are visions of a Paul McKee who, if he had the money, would act. The entire development could've been finished by 2024 if it got started right away, but we are just now starting to see dirt being moved, and nothing built.
The City was scammed by a man who had a vision but that vision fell apart. Residents are angry. The government is angry. When are we going to hold him accountable? He wants more land and if we give it to him, we will be shooting ourselves. He is a con man who's credibility is extremely low, or non existent. The man has been given to many chances and, at some point, the City and Paul McKee need to part ways. We've lost several historic buildings because of him and we will continue to lose them if we don't act. Unless we see a large scale project with financing and a defined ground breaking date, I am skeptical and very disappointed and angry a McKee.