RFP for Olive & I-170

Discuss new retail, dining, business and residential projects within St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Riverport, Earth City, Westport and more.
University City has issued a Request For Proposals for the area along both sides of Olive just east of I-170. This is a very large area; hopefully they'll get some decent proposals:

http://apps.ucitymo.org/PublicPortal/0/ ... PFinal.pdf
Per a U City councilman, they have received a $175 million proposal. Negotiations are ongoing.
framer wrote:Per a U City councilman, they have received a $175 million proposal. Negotiations are ongoing.
Oh wow..

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^Yeah, this could be a big deal for U City, but there's a lot of property owners involved, so I'm sure it's gonna take a while to make it work.

U City has issued another RFP for the Olive/I-170 area. City officials have been saying that a large plan was in the works, and would be announced soon. I'm not sure why they're issuing a second RFP.

From the PD:

Proposed development could change the texture of University City's gritty backdoor

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/ ... 81dc8.html
It sounds like the community-destroying, clear-cutting, TIF-fueled, sales tax chasing redevel we've seen too many times.

How about some incremental, fine-grained devel?
But they've made it even bigger now. Why does all of this have to be one development? Why does the city need to issue a request? Why not just let it take its course? It's a relatively healthy area, really. Even the part to the north they're so worried about. We almost bought up there before we landed in Carondelet.
That stretch of Olive isn't what I'd call healthy - it's filled with half vacant retail strips built in the 70's. Could definitely use a makeover of some sort, but the fact that they used the Kirkwood re-development as the example is not very promising. The last thing that area needs is a massive retail power center - basically clearing out the old to replace it with a shiny new version of the same thing. I don't know of many neighborhoods who have seen their property values skyrocket because they're closer to a Menards now.

The tricky part of that area is how you go about coaxing some development and investment without going full suburban parking lots. Maybe that's why they only had Novus respond to the original RFP. The building infrastructure isn't there to create an organic mixed-use area like you see in the Grove or elsewhere in the city. The area has some notable tenants like Seafood City and numerous restaurants but they're sitting in dilapidated old centers that look like they haven't been updated since Grandpa Pigeon's moved out (note: I have no idea if Grandpa Pigeons was actually here, it just seemed to fit). If they don't want to tear apart the community element, then the city planners have to figure out how to update/improve without causing substantial turnover which is easier said than done. Olive Blvd is as unappealing of a pedestrian road as you'll find anywhere, so creating any kind of walkable, mixed-use environment would require an awful lot of speculative building. Although it could help if they extended and integrated the Centennial Greenway which comes to an abrupt stop at 170 and Olive.

Hopefully U. City can find an effective way to incentivize and put the right public elements in place to spur the type of development that can be sustainable as opposed to a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all type of solution it appears has been proposed to this point.
^See, that's the thing. They're not half vacant. They're mostly full. I will gladly grant that what's small groceries, independent retailers, restaurants, cell phone shops, acupuncturists and so forth. It's not sexy. But it's there. The residential is mostly well maintained. The commercial is older, but mostly clean and, again, tolerably maintained. You're quite right. It's not pedestrian friendly. And frankly, making it so would alter it completely. None of the businesses there now could likely afford the transition. They're catering to working class to middle class middle aged immigrants and their families, not younger middle class to upper class mostly white kids. It's not a millennial area. It's not trying to brand itself as such. Working class immigrants drive and live in suburbs. Is that good? Maybe not. But it's a fact of life. And we want immigrants. I don't see driving out one of the healthiest immigrant neighborhoods we have as a grand idea to make the place more attractive. If you want this to be the granular walkable sort of area you describe, while still being interesting, then I think the best course is to work to encourage transit and greater density on a small scale and make sure large scale development is impossible. Frankly, I'm not getting the idea that University City wants to encourage either the sort of walkable high value and high density development you want, or the kind of low density immigrant development that's presently there. They want exactly what we both fear. And that will drive out Seafood City, Olive Market, Chinatown, Nobu, Pho Long, and virtually everything there save the fish joint. To be incredibly frank, it's so far out in the suburbs that I think you're barking up the wrong tree if you expect that to somehow miraculously become walkable overnight. It's going to require either major changes in who lives there or a complete transformation in how the folks there want to live to make it anything different. It's not the loop. It's half again as far from downtown as the loop. And many times as far from anything that would generate a lot of walking trips.
I think you described a problem with updating/improving a lot of aging areas in a city like STL - straddling that line between apathy and "gentrification". Finding the mix that provides some noticeable improvement without dramatically altering the area is not easy.

And I think there are varying degrees of "walkable". Sure the word now has connotations that you're trying to create a hipster paradise, but they're not all like that. An area like this can add some walkable elements without gutting the neighborhood and trying to re-create the Loop. I mentioned extending the Centennial Greenway, they can make efforts to clean up the sidewalks or street lighting and generally making the area more visually appealing. Maybe they find a way to incentivize investment into more small-scale development or updating old/aging storefronts, while de-incentivizing developments that require 150 feet setback for a massive parking field.

I've seen areas in Chicago that maintained their place as an immigrant-heavy affordable area while also welcoming more modern development. It can be done. Certainly sounds like U-City is leaning towards the nuclear, suburban overhaul approach.
I don't know that I require something to be South Grand or the Loop to think of it as walkable. My own neighborhood, while much less sexy than either of those, is nevertheless what I would call "walkable." The part of Southtown/Bevo where I grew up (over near Morganford and Chippewa) is incredibly so. (I'd argue more even than either the Loop or South Grand, since you've got groceries within an easy walk of most of it.) It ain't sexy, and there are lots of immigrants, and it's not too expensive, yet it's walkable.

Yes, these things can work together. They needn't be mutually exclusive.

But the smaller scale development and "granularity" you suggest would be the key to it. Sure. Fix the sidewalks. Absolutely, extend a greenway or two. Encourage moving things away from the back of the lot and towards the front of it.

But I'd think being relatively hands off would be best. Maybe tweak the code a little, but otherwise just make sure people keep it honest and safe. It's the mega-developments like the RFP seems to be encouraging that so favor the rich and new over the not quite so affluent. I really feel that if we put in place mechanisms that help the working class and encourage immigration then quite a lot of everything else will fix itself without fancy redevelopment schemes that chase retail from one part of town to the next. Retail redevelopment really seems to be a zero sum game and we waste far too much tax money on it.
Pretty much a worst-case-scenario. They're proposing a massive big-box oriented strip mall on the North side, with a massive parking lot in front along Olive. The south side looks a bit better, with a hotel, 4-5 story apartment building, and small scale retail; but again, with massive parking lots in front.

I hope U City demands better. Here's the TIF presentation. The project description starts around the 30 minute mark:

https://patch.com/missouri/universityci ... watch-live
Any word on which big box it is?
^Does it make any difference at all?
(Mind you, my wife works at one such and I do shop at them occasionally, but . . . no matter which this is going to be a step in the wrong direction.)
As to whether this should happen, no.
If the retailer has another location nearby, it would help the case against it if it increases the likelihood that an existing location could close.

Basically all the negatives of StL development are in this plan, TIF subsidies, fragmentation prisoner's dilemma, sales tax chasing, moving people, spread-out auto-oriented low productivity development patterns bankrupting us, shifting sales between munis, the unwalkable, dangerous development stroads and highways promote, population loss, stagnation, yet focus and tax investment on retail.

East-West Gateway An Assessment of the Effectiveness and Fiscal Impacts of theUse of Development Incentives in the St. Louis Region
"Focusing development incentives on expanding retail sales is a losing economic development strategy for the region. The future of sales taxes as a principal source of revenue for local governments should come into question for several reasons: its inherent volatility; the likelihood of a long-term restructuring of retail trade; increasing level of sales taxes discourages spending and local sales in favor of non-taxed internet sales; and, the motivation this tax source provides to focus scarce tax dollars on incentivizing a type of development that appears to yield very limited regional economic benefit. As local governments come under increasing fiscal stress, the impacts of billions of dollars in forgone revenue will become increasingly apparent."
There was another article in StLToday last night. If I read correctly it said the project would have 200k sq ft of commercial space but that one anchor tenant wants to take up 158k of it. What big boxes are that size? Looks like the average Walmart Supercenter is around 170k sq ft, so close.
Or Costco? They average around 144k sq ft.
Thought of one thing this doesn't have- a levy paid for by many beyond the muni. Silver lining
Looks so bad. How many square feet of parking?

Stltoday - Developer pitches retail/residential project at I-170 and Olive in University City

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metr ... 104aa.html
They're planning on eminent domaining the self-storage place? I assume they couldn't arrive at a price. I wonder the chances this actually goes through.
another massive TIF sponsor retail development. How many of these developments can the STL area stand? We are NOT growing, it's just going to cannibalize other nearby retail developments, i.e., Galleria - Brentwood development, I64 - Hanley development, etc.
As a U City resident, I had been eagerly looking forward to this project. Now that I see what's proposed, I'm really disappointed. I was hoping for more of an infill type of development, not a clear-cut. There are lots of unique businesses along there that are going to be needlessly forced out. Olive does need help, but I don't think this is the way to do it.

Let's hope the plan gets some major tweaking.

From a layout perspective, Anchor A looks a WHOLE lot like a Costco.
Browne added that use of eminent domain for condemnation likely will be needed to acquire property now owned by Public Storage at 8691 Olive Boulevard.
This seems like a giant red flag. I'm assuming that the owner of the self-storage in California isn't sentimental about their storage facility, but rather they couldn't agree on a price. Framer, what do you think the chances of this actually going through are?