Note

Reimagining the “Team Four Plan” With an Eye Toward Community Collaboration and Private Capital

Morgan Seim

This Note seeks to explore the historical underpinnings of the Team Four Plan by considering St. Louis’s dramatic economic decline alongside a citywide panic regarding the fate of the Midwest city. Though it acknowledges Congressional efforts to stop the urban plan in its tracks, this Note suggests that the strategy of “urban triage” presented by Team Four has been largely effectuated in the form of Missouri’s Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act, a piece of legislation initially intended to eradicate “blight” throughout the state. Mimicking the effects of antiquated, race-blind policies that once functioned as a means of maintaining the notorious white “sanctuary” while exacerbating the “black urban ghetto,”  St. Louis’s transparent yet purposeful misapplication of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), typically a result of inter-municipal competition for increased tax revenue, perpetuates the city’s notorious racial divide. Such a strategy, this Note reveals, follows the very intentions of Team Four, advancing affluent neighborhoods while neglecting, and thereby sabotaging, low-income communities. Finally, this Note recognizes the realities of a financially strapped local government; a policy of urban triage, despite its inequitable effect, proves the most rational of public tactics in light of finite public funds. Acknowledging the limited freedom of a fiscally responsible, voter conscious municipality, this Note sets forth an alternative means of stemming “blight” throughout the St. Louis region: Social Impact Bonds. Rejecting TIF funding for its loose “blight” and “but-for” requirements, this Note emphasizes the need for public-private collaboration in furtherance of social equality and the eradication of St. Louis “blight.” In so doing, this Note presents Social Impact Bonds dedicated to the redevelopment of historically neglected neighborhoods as a possible alternative to St. Louis’s current strategy of urban triage.