Fridley page 47

[no source, March 7, 1941]

Won’t Cut Fee in in TNT Site Deal
[handwritten: March 7, 1941]
McDowell Refusal Reported From Washington Meeting

            R.  Newton McDowell, Kansas Cityan who contracted to acquire the 16,500 acres for the government for the TNT plant near Weldon Springs, vetoed as “too late” a suggestion he cut his fee from 5 to 3½ per cent of the appraised price, it was reported yesterday after a closed conference in Washington.
            The conference, called in an effort to decide whether to go through with purchase options McDowell already has obtained on the 100-odd land parcels or start court condemnation proceedings, was attended by John J. O’Brien, Justice Department attorney in charge of land acquisition; Ewing Wright, special Justice Department attorney who recently made an appraisal investigation here; United States District Attorney Harry C. Blanton of St. Louis; McDowell and War Department officials.
            No decision was reached yesterday and further conferences will be held, it was reported in Washington.
            McDowell at the meeting defended the total estimated $2,500,000 cost of the land as a fair price in an “immediate possession” deal. Normally, he admitted, the $159 per acre average would be too high for farm land as such.
            Conferees reported, he said, he believed it is “too late” to reduce his 5 per cent commission. He contended it would cost $1,000,000 more to acquire the land by condemnation.
            Blanton is reported to have recommended condemnation proceedings while Wright was in St. Louis rechecking McDowell’s appraisal. He said he was an “unofficial observer” at yesterday’s meeting.
            St. Charles real estate men said yesterday they feel $75 an acre is a fair price. One said he has sold, since the TNT plant was announced, 1477 acres in the area at an average of $60 an acre.
            A check of the records in the office of the St. Charles County Recorder of Deeds revealed 35 acres recently sold at $60 an acre, six at $160, 26 acres at $100, 125 acres at $50 and 1¾ at $500.

[no source, no date]

Refuses Suggestion That He Accept 3½ Per Cent Instead of the Original 5 Per Cent
No Decision Reached by D. J. Officials Whether or Not Land Will Be Condemned

            A proposal to reduce the commission from 5 to 3½ per cent on the purchase of the 16,500 acres of land for the Weldon Spring TNT plant, was rejected by R. Newton McDowell of Kansas City at a conference in Washington Friday. McDowell’s reply to the suggestion was “it is too late.”
            The land optioner met with Department of Justice officials to decide whether or not to go with condemnation proceedings to acquire the property. No decision was reached and further conferences will be held.
            McDowell defended the total estimated price of $2,500,000 for the land because of the immediate possession demand by the Government.
            Payment for the land was halted when the Department of Justice probe began. It is contended the land was optioned at extremely high prices.
            St. Louisans who owned property for country estates were among those who received the highest prices for their land.

[no source, no date]

Kansas City Contractor Will Be Asked If He Was Influenced In the Awarding of Contract
Farmers’ Committee At Same Time Asks War Department to Send Qualified Investigator Here

            WASHINGTON, March 20.—The special Senate committee which is preparing to investigate defense contracts expects to call J. C. Nichols, wealthy Kansas City real estate operator and now $1-a-year man with the Office of Production Management, to determine whether he was in any way influential in helping R. Newton McDowell, also of Kansas City, to obtain his 5 per cent commission contract to purchase the 16,000-acre site for a TNT plant at St. Charles, Mo.
            This was confirmed yesterday by Senator Harry S. Truman, chairman of the committee, which met today to discuss policy and procedure. Truman said the background of numerous contracts would be explored.
            Told he probably would be called before the Truman Committee to be questioned about any part he may have had in the McDowell contract, Nichols denied any knowledge of it. He said that McDowell, whom he knows only slightly, came into his office here and told him that he was negotiating for a contract.
Committee Complains
            The property owners committee today sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of War Patterson, asking that Brigadier General George R. Spaulding be sent here to investigate the conditions. The letter says the War Department has been a victim of misrepresentation and points out relative land values in the St. Louis area. The letter also questions the qualifications of the men who appraised ten pieces of property for the Government.
            From Washington it was said condemnation proceedings would begin early next week.