Home News Costco development brings eminent domain comes to University City residents

Costco development brings eminent domain comes to University City residents

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Only the driveway remains on Richard Court. Until recently, 18 neat brick homes surrounded a cul-de-sac in University City, but now even the street signs have been removed in favor of a fence under construction and new signs directing delivery to Costco under construction. has been replaced by

This street isn’t the only thing that’s changed in the shadow of Costco. Nearby are two nearly identical cul-de-sacs, Elmore and Orchard, undergoing similar transformations for his $190 million development known as Market at Olive.

City officials have touted the tax revenue potential, and in 2019 the city council pledged $70 million in tax-raised loans to kick-start the project.

But as construction progresses, residents who see big retailers rising beyond their communities are becoming increasingly concerned about eminent domain, a legal process that allows the government to force the sale of private property. It is designed to

Governments like University City can use this process to clear space for needed public services such as roads and utilities. But otherwise, even individual developers looking to make a profit can use unique domains to liquidate their fortunes.

For years, University City officials have assured residents that no eminent domain will be deployed. 2018 Mayor Terry Crow said to St. Louis Business Journal The city said, “Do not use eminent domain in owner-occupied homes. Period.”

However, as development has progressed, eminent domain has actually been used to acquire some small businesses. Developers have sought buyout deals with homeowners, and residents have persevered through years of negotiations and false starts. Today, most of the people who maintained their homes in the developed areas have succumbed to the changing realities of their neighborhoods and left.

But some homeowners are digging their heels. That’s a problem for developer Larry Chapman, president of commercial real estate firm Seneca and one of his major investment partners who bought a development in the olive market in 2021.

Danny Wisentowski

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st louis public radio

A yellow “X” indicates a house scheduled for demolition in University City.

Chapman has a great solution for wiping out remaining homeowners: using eminent domain to force sales, at prices determined by external commissions. But this tactic is what has ensured University City won’t send its residents out for years.

However, on June 13, Chapman submitted a proposal to the University City Council. He told members that the development group had acquired his 34 homes north of Olive Boulevard in the first phase of the development area.

Many of the houses have already been demolished. However, he said negotiations with Elmore and the last three Orchard residents had broken down.

Speaking at the council, Chapman said: If the parties cannot agree on a price, the only way is to involve a third party. ”

Chapman explained that stalled negotiations cannot be resolved simply by paying the higher prices demanded by persistent residents. , he warned that it would cause future problems for development.

“We haven’t acquired the Mayflower property yet, and we really want to do that,” he said.

“That’s where we’re going to build the apartment complex. We’ve started building it. I’ve reached out. The reunion with Mayflower owners will begin. End of this summer.” But there are smart people out there, some of whom are lawyers and watch everything we do.”

Chapman warned that if other homeowners believed they could get a higher price from the developer, “they would all want the same thing.” prize.

“It would absolutely kill the project and take the project out of debt,” he said. “I don’t think it’s in our best interest.”

‘under no circumstances’

sign advertising "coming soon!costco wholesale" It is shown attached to a fence. Behind it are the ruins of Jeffrey Plaza, once a beloved restaurant.

Danny Wisentowski

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st louis public radio

Surrounded by new fences and signs, Jeffrey Plaza once housed several international restaurants and grocery stores.

Driving south from what used to be Richard’s Court, Once a vibrant cosmopolitan dining district known as Jeffrey PlazaAfter crossing Olive, you will reach Mayflower Court. Like Richard, Orchard and Elmore to the north, this cul-de-sac is home to his 18 brick house.

The house near the edge, featuring a flowered front garden and distinctive blue shutters, belongs to Nichole Angieri.

As Chapman suggested at the council in June, Mayflower residents are keeping a close eye on development progress. She said the meeting was offensive.

Through years of continuous development, this was the only certainty she relied on. Well, the developers were telling the council that this is not true.

“Before entering into negotiations with the previous developer, we received written and verbal confirmation from the City Council, the mayor, and the mayor that the unique domain would not be used for private homes,” she said. St. Louis on the Air“It was a very specific request. Our neighbors are sitting across from me in my living room, and I was told that under no circumstances would a unique domain be used for a private home.”

But things have changed. In 2018, after her two years of talking with the former developer of Market at Olive, Angieri said she and her other Mayflower residents had agreed to a deal to sell their home to Novus Development. say.

Novus then did not show up to fulfill the promise, she says. Three years later, a new investment group has taken over the Market at Olive project, but Mayflower residents have little desire to return to the negotiating table, Angeli suggests.

“at the time [in 2018] Everyone on the block got to a place mentally, emotionally, and financially to make that decision. And without any warning or explanation, it didn’t happen. So when he received another inquiry from a new developer in 2021, Brock was basically unwilling to get involved in this sort of thing again.

Angieri isn’t the only one who felt misled by the previous developer. Bob Mepham, founder of Bob’s Seafood, claims he had some offers from Novus, but “they weren’t real.”

University City's city manager, Gregory Rose, is sitting in his office in a suit. Behind him is a detailed map of the city.

Danny Wisentowski

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st louis public radio

Mayor Gregory Rose insists University City has not reversed its position on eminent domain. We like it,” he said.

Bob’s Seafood was eventually sold through eminent domain. This is the process by which the city first confiscates the property. An external committee then determined the price. Mepham was forced into retirement after more than 40 years of his business.

“They came up with a plan. Sometimes they use ‘best and best use’ as an excuse to take someone’s property and put it in something they think will bring in more tax revenue,” he said. said, “It looks like corruption.”

Regarding University City, City Manager Gregory Rose said: St. Louis on the Air The city has not changed its policy on land acquisition. In fact, the city’s first redevelopment agreement signed with Novus in 2019 allows for the use of eminent domain “as determined by the City Council in its sole and absolute discretion.”

Rose said the city does not want to use unique domains “under any circumstances,” and the lawsuit the developer is now pursuing is based on broken promises Angeli and other residents described. (On the city’s official website, FAQ section on the market in the state of olive development: “The City will not use eminent domain under the TIF Act to seize residential property occupied by the owner. only if it is necessary after exhausting considerable efforts to acquire the property by

Famous Domains Close in on U City Residents

Rose said the developer has successfully negotiated sales with more than 50 homeowners.

“Our preference is for developers and property owners to be able to come to an agreement on the value of each property. And for the most part, let’s face it,” he said. “Certainly, when it comes to eminent domain, the Council has made it clear that they are very reluctant to use it. No land acquisition is being used at this time, and they hope not to have to use it.”

Residents of the Mayflower are waiting for developers to resume negotiations, so there’s little they can do other than wait to receive offers for homes they don’t actually want to leave.

Rose also said St. Louis on the Air Developers are not required to use a unique domain in one of Elmore’s and Orchard’s target properties. The homeowner agreed to a sale price.

Negotiations on the remaining two homes are “very close,” Rose said.

St. Louis on the Airtells the story of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in this area.program production Miya Nofleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wisentowski When Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers Our production assistant.the audio engineer Aaron Doerr.

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