Fridley page 43

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch, no date]

R. Newton McDowell of Kansas City Says Valuation by Federal Agents ‘Won’t Mean a Thing.’
Asserts He Worked Under Requirements of Speed and Preservation of Owners’ Good Will. 

            R. Newton McDowell, the Kansas City contractor engaged by the War Department to acquire the 16,000-acre site in St. Charles County for a TNT plant, protested to a Post-Dispatch reporter today that new appraisals now being made by agents of the War Department and Department of Justice “won’t mean a thing” because he operated under requirements that the land should be obtained speedily and that the good will of the land owners should be preserved.      
            McDowell, who is to get a 5 per cent commission on the $3,000,000 the Government has agreed to pay for a tract it had estimated could be acquired for $1,000,000, stopped in St. Louis on his way to Kansas City after conferring in Washington with John J. O’Brien of the Department of Justice, who has recently been placed in charge of the Quartermaster’s Construction Division. The new appraisals followed complaints that original prices to which the Government agreed were too high.
            In his conference with O’Brien, McDowell said, three major criticisms against “this type” of defense project were discussed. They were that land prices were too high, that commissions were paid on commissions, and that the 5 per cent commission was too much.
His Commissions.
            Explaining what was meant by payment of commissions on commissions, McDowell said that in some cases a landowner and the agent might agree on a figure—he took $100 an as example—but the landowner would insist on getting the full $100 and the option price would be put at $105, giving the agent a commission on an extra $5. McDowell maintained this had occurred in but few instances in St. Charles County and the total of commissions involved, he said, was $277.
[one or more lines missing]
for property along the Missouri River bluffs, on the ground that they were the last bluff tracts available for home site development in the immediate vicinity of St. Louis. There are 957 acres in this strip, of which the Government has acquired 893 acres. A condemnation suit to acquire the other 64 acres is contemplated. Assessed valuation of the bluff property acquired is $14,580, and for this the Government has agreed to pay $222,184.
Mahaffey Deal.
            The largest holder of bluff property, as the Post-Dispatch told yesterday, is Birch O. Mahaffey, St. Louis capitalist, who is to get $123,487 for 630 acres assessed at $4600. The Mahaffey holdings are in five tracts, including one of 40 acres which he bought in 1937 for $2000 and sold to the Government for $8202. Another is a 202-acre tract which he bought in 1929 and sold for $41,441. This tract had been owned by Charles V. Seelinger and Isidore Stahldahl. Seelinger told a reporter yesterday they got $16,850 for the property, but today, after checking records and conferring with Stahldahl, he said they had sold it for $5500.
            Stahldahl added the sale had been to a real estate agent, not directly to Mahaffey. He and Seelinger had bought the property for $4000 eight months before they sold it, Stahldahl said.
            Other holders of bluff property acquired by the Government are George C. Willson, St. Louis attorney, who got $32,000 for 52 acres assessed at $780; Thomas H. Rogers, director of the legislative bureau of the Chamber of Commerce, who got $24,000 for 17 acres assessed at $4800; C. E. Fridley, who got $15,000 for 56 acres assessed at $1920; Mrs. Jennie Paul, who got $17,697 for 86 acres assessed at $940, and Mrs. Hattie Mades, who got $10,000 for 55 acres assessed at $1420. The 64-acre tract to be condemned, assessed at $660, is owned by Agnes Kalodzey of Yorktown, Tex. The Fridley and Mades properties mentioned include some bottom land.
McDowell’s 5 Per Cent.
            In connection with the prices paid for the bluff land, McDowell mentioned that the transactions for the first three of the five Mahaffey tracts acquired by the Government were closed by Charles H. Smith, a special representative of the Attorney General, who was sent from Washington to assist McDowell in getting the movement started. McDowell said, however, his 5 per cent commission is to apply on these transactions as well as the others.
            Another St. Louisan who sold property in the tract was Kenneth H. Bitting, investment broker. For 231 acres of farm land and improvements including an eight-room house he got $29,414. The property was assessed at $3600. Bitting acquired it five years ago. He told a reporter he could not recall what be paid for it without checking his records.