Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Commercial Plan Approved despite Several Protests

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Commercial Plan Approved despite Several Protests

Article excerpt

Against the recommendation of a study commission, against protests from a school and other taxing districts and against the desire of mall executives, St. Peters aldermen have approved the more expensive of two plans for a commercial development near Suemandy Road.

For about a month, aldermen have considered two plans to develop an area in a Tax Increment Financing District, or TIF, east of Mid Rivers Mall. The area will be a retail center.

On Thursday, aldermen voted 7 to 1 to contract with Spencer Creek Development Corp. to develop 56 acres and 427,000 square feet of retail space. Alderman Len Pagano, Ward 3, voted against the contract.

The contract calls for the city to pay $4.9 million - down from $8 million originally proposed - to upgrade the area for development.

The competitor, Landon Development Corp., followed the city's proposal to focus on a site of 28 acres. Such a development would have opened 300,000 square feet of retail space for a cost to the city of $1.6 million.

Board President Jerry Hollingsworth, Ward 2, said the Spencer Creek group would give the site a more finished look. The Spencer Creek development would also allow for better traffic flow and a better mix of tenants, he said.

"The Spencer group offered a plan that will aesthetically develop the area all the way to City Centre Boulevard," Hollingsworth said. "Personally, I favored more of the flow of traffic from one area to another. The Spencer Road extension and Highway 370 will add traffic. If there is a more continuous layout of shops, it would make it easier for people to shop."

The dilemma aldermen faced in approving the proposal was having the city pay $1.7 million for land around two tributaries that cut through the site. The land cannot be used for development. Spencer Creek officials asked the city to buy that area.

Buying land is not usually considered a TIF purpose. An area that is made a TIF district usually needs some type of infrastructure work to be considered desirable for development. Cities use the method cautiously because property tax money and some sales tax money from the site is used to pay the upgrading costs for development. Tax money would otherwise go to taxing jurisdictions such as school districts and the library district. …

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