Thursday, December 11, 2008


COLUMBIA, 12/11/08 (Beat Byte) -- The rapacious talons of government may be poised to snatch Bengals Restaurant, formerly Shiloh, a dry cleaners, and a rental house for a pressing public necessity: a museum.

Sources tell the Columbia Heart Beat, "it sounds like the schedule is much more aggressive than the owners of these properties have been led to believe. Assistant city manager Tony St. Romaine mentioned the possibility that the LCRA (Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority) will be brought back soon."

Minutes from the November 2008 meeting of the Downtown Leadership Council, charged with reviewing the issue, are vague: "Tony [St. Romaine] reviews the authority of the LCRA, (Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority). Community anxiety discussed regarding land clearance."

The LCRA is a creature peculiar to Missouri state law. Google the term and you'll find dozens of these beasts all over the state. An LCRA is vested with broad authority to "undertake activities intended to correct blighted conditions, including, among others, to acquire property and prepare it for redevelopment."

But to many Columbians, LCRA may as well mean LCRAcism.

In Columbia during the 1950's, correcting blight through the LCRA, many people claim, mostly meant taking land from the black community and ultimately, renting much of it back to them.

Declared blighted under Missouri statutes, black-owned tracts around Flat Branch creek and Douglass High School ultimately fell to the authority, which sold off some 126 acres to a variety of public and private interests, including the Columbia Housing Authority; the Columbia Daily Tribune; and the Eckstein family of Milwaukee, Wisconsin that still owns the downtown post office building.

"The Douglass School Urban Renewal Area was the primary target of the authority," from 1956-69, says a study of the issue. "Work of the authority included the relocation of residents; the acquisition of property through purchase, condemnation, and eminent domain...."

Local pundits have also panned the idea as as way to "ensure that the government actually pays far less than market value for the property. The bottom line is that it's a forced sale and the government's usually getting the land for a bargain price." 


Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, Columbia, Missouri, Papers, 1860s-1962 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So land locked down town they have to take businesses? Oh Wait! Isn't there a HUGE EMPTY BUILDING and land just across Providence (Osco)!! There's a blight they could take or what about the building at the corner of Broadway and Providence that's been empty for 20 years!!!!