Ackerman Toyota - Musical Chairs or Growth?

So, I’ve been truckin’ down I-44 much lately, watching the new Ackerman Toyota dealership progressing at Hampton in The Hill Neighborhood.

To date, this dealership is not a true gain for St. Louis, as they already existed in the Tower Grove South Neighborhood on South Kingshighway.

I like having auto dealership in St. Louis, we are down to four including Don Brown Chevrolet, McMahon Ford, Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis and Ackerman Toyota.

I had a door fall off my junker Chevy Venture one day, I had family pressures mounting…I knew what I had to do in the moment. I headed to South Kingshighway and bought a brand spanking new 2008 Toyota Sienna from a straight talking Bosnian salesman at Ackerman back. Thanks Mr. Dudic, I got a handsome deal that I felt good about and you were no nonsense dude.

But wait, what gives with the old location?

Per my recent drive-by, it’s in board-up phase.

So what gives, is it being leveled? Is there mixed use in our future? Is there an urban building built to the sidewalk? Or, is the property under going environment remediation for another dealership or used car lot (ugh)?

Or worse yet, years of shuttered speculation and limbo?

I ask out of ignorance, I truly don’t know…so don’t take these posed questions as cynicism.

So why am I not giddy for this new dealership right here in my hometown?

Well, the new dealership construction was subsidized with our tax dollars, so a level of criticism is on the table. A civic-minded resident and caring citizen would expect a net gain, for said tax dollars, no?

Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Ackerman’s $18 million project at Hampton and I-44 includes about $4.4 million in tax-increment financing, plus $765,000 from a 1 percent community improvement district sales tax, city development officials said. TIF money, based on increased tax revenue from the dealer sales of car parts, will be used to pay infrastructure costs.
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Tim Bryant

We are giving them our much needed tax money. Will this be a gain? The South Kingshighway property will tell the tale.

I’m a reasonable citizen, if we gain on Kingshighway and on Hampton/I-44, it’s worth the subsidies to give a private business the incentive to move/upgrade. If not, and we have more suburban schlock on Kingshighway…well, let’s think critically about TIF futures in St. Louis.