Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Just how much of St. Louis do the Roberts Brothers - Mike and Steve - own?

Well, there's:
- Roberts-Roberts & Associates, a consulting firm hired by the St. Louis Cardinals to help them find minority contractors for the new ballpark.

- Roberts Old School House L.P., the corporation developing the old St. Louis Public Schools main administrative offices at 911 Locust into high-end lofts.

- Lots of property along North Kingshighway, both at Delmar and at Page/Martin Luther King. The latter corner is the site of the old Northside Sears store at 1408 N. Kingshighway Blvd., now in their ownership and named the Victor Roberts Building in honor of their father. Adjacent to the Victor Roberts Building is a shopping center called Roberts Village. These properties are in the hands of Roberts Brothers Properties LLC and a number of sequels (i.e., Roberts Brothers Properties IV LLC). Much of the property the Roberts own at N Kingshighway and Delmar is part of the shopping center area developed initially in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Union Sarah Economic Development Corporation (USEDC). That's called Roberts Plaza LLC.

- Mike's home on Lindell facing Forest Park, and Steve's home on Westmoreland Place, both million-dollar houses.

- Roberts Broadcasting Company, which includes the local UPN affiliate channel 46 as well as TV stations in Utah, New Mexico and South Carolina.

A rumor in today's Jerry Berger column has the Roberts brothers interested in buying the St. Louis Argus, the oldest African-American weekly newspaper in St. Louis. Multimedia potential, hm?

There's probably other investments as well. An article from three years ago in a US Department of Transportation newsletter profiles the companies' then senior vice-president,
Kay Gabbert.

It's no wonder their operations received Mayor Slay's Spirit of St. Louis Award.

Of course not everybody in the St. Louis political world loves them. After all, Mike Roberts, ran for president of the Board of Aldermen in 1983, when he was 19th ward alderman. Lana Stein, in St. Louis Politics: the Triumph of Tradition, described Mike Roberts as a protege' of JB "Jet" Banks, 19th ward committeeman and state senator. Mike ran again for that slot in 1987, losing by sixty votes (this, again from Lana's book). In '83, Mike had lukewarm support from Congressman William L Clay, then ultimate powerbroker in St. Louis African-American politics. In '87, Clay did not support him at all. Nevertheless, Mike Roberts ran for mayor in 1989 against Vince Schoemehl.

Even more recently, Steve Roberts ran for mayor in 1993. He got the endorsement of only one alderman at the time, Paul Beckerle, of the white Southside 25th ward. Neither Mike nor Steve had much success in getting African-American ward organization backing in their citywide races.

Yet, it seems they've done quite well in the business world.

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