Schlichter to Head Development of Convention Hotel Project

St. Louis Front Page, CitySide

by Bob Moore

The revitalization of downtown St. Louis and the Convention Hotel project will continued under the direction of St. Louis attorney Jerry Schlichter, newly appointed Deputy Mayor for Development. Mayor Clarence Harmon introduced Schlichter at City Hall yesterday and addressed the speculation of development circles since the departure of Mike Jones.

"Make no doubt about it, we will continue and finish what we have begun."

"I want to assure the development and business communities that, as Mayor, I remain committed to the numerous economic development projects that are currently underway or are in the planning stages in the City of St. Louis," said the Mayor. He emphasized that the City will continue to move forward on current development projects to their successful conclusion.

Harmon stressed that the finalization of the new Convention Hotel, the most important economic development project in the St. Louis metropolitan region, needed the expertise of someone from the business community. He noted that it was time to "think outside the box."

Schlichter, a founding partner of Schlichter Bogard & Denton, has been a familiar face at City Hall for many years. He formed a statewide coalition, drafted legislation, secured sponsors and successfully spearheaded a bill with the help of others through the state legislature that ultimately became the Historic Tax Credit Act of 1997. This state tax credit has facilitated nearly 20 large-scale development projects in St. Louis including Cupples Station, the Chase Park Plaza, the Drury Plaza Hotel and Washington Avenue lofts.

The tax credit has also been used to build numerous houses in Soulard, Benton Park, the Central West End, the Ville and the Shaw neighborhoods in St. Louis. In 1999, Schlichter initiated another effort in the Missouri General Assembly to offer tax incentives to homeowners and developers who rehabilitate old buildings and build new, owner-occupied homes in distressed areas. This legislation became the Neighborhood Preservation Act which has already become very popular in its first year of use.

Schlichter commented that the success of the Convention Hotel would take the City to a new level in conventions and attract many new visitors. "It will also take us to a new level of development in downtown and along Washington Avenue and really be a catalyst in improving the image of the City and the region in general across the nation," stated Schlichter.

"I felt it was important to answer the call of the Mayor as a citizen of the City for many years," he said. Schlichter will serve the City without pay and report directly to the Mayor on the Convention Hotel project. The St. Louis Development Corporation, under the direction of Phil Hoge and his deputy Otis Williams, will work with Schlichter on the Convention Hotel project.