Retail, Restaurants, Hotel & Office Target Manchester At I-270 Area



quarry
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The Quarry commercial development is slated for Manchester and Des Peres roads. The area is located in unincorporated St. Louis County. photo by Max Bouvatte (click for larger version)
May 18, 2012
A potential behemoth mixed-use development at the 27-acre quarry site at Manchester Road and Interstate 270 could cause a myriad of problems for Des Peres, city officials said.

The proposed development currently calls for:
  • 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant in three buildings

  • 316,000 square feet of multiple family use in four buildings of three or four stories

  • 66,000 square feet of office use in a two-story building

  • 2,300 square foot bank

  • A seven-story hotel
In a letter to the St. Louis County Planning Commission, Des Peres Mayor Rick Lahr said he was concerned, not only about the density and traffic the project would create, but the fact that the site, as yet, has no fire or emergency medical services protection.

"Quite frankly, it is almost unconscionable that St. Louis County has already approved major office development in that location without the area having tax-supported fire and EMS services," Lahr wrote in his letter. "Allowing the development with the promise, expectation or assumption of a future contract between the private property owner and an adjoining fire and EMS service provider simply is not good public policy."

However, Chief Dave Frazier of West County Fire and EMS, told the Times the department has had a contract with the property owners, Commercial Development Association, for the past several years.

"We scheduled to have meetings later this month with the owners concerning a new contract," he said.

Referring to traffic, Lahr said because the primary access to the site would be off Manchester Road, "existing traffic patterns for the current commercial properties in that area create a heavy impact on Des Peres Road between Manchester and Dougherty Ferry Road as drivers seek to avoid the traffic congestion at Manchester and Interstate 270. The addition of high-density multiple family and still more offices will exacerbate the problem. Des Peres Road is a two-lane road intended primarily as a local collector roadway."

He continued by saying that the city had long ago promised residents that Des Peres Road would not be widened to four lanes.

"We fully intend to keep that promise," Lahr said.

St. Louis County Director of Planning Glenn Powers said the Quarry site was not "the only area of the county that is not formally within a district. You have to insure these buildings and to do that, you have to have fire protection and prove that to their insurance companies. The issue of fire is always brought up by Des Peres," he said. I think it's related more to annexation issues than having fire protection."

Lahr told the Times: "We talked about annexing it, but annexation rules being what they are, we can't. The county won't let go of it, and they're not going to let us in, mostly because of the zoning issues. If we owned it, you couldn't build condos, hotels, apartments...so they're not going to let us in."

Corporate Hill, an unincorporated pocket across Interstate 270 from the quarry site, contracts with West County Fire and EMS District for fire and emergency services at a cost of $110,000 a year. The Des Peres Public Safety Department provides backup assistance, if needed, at no cost.

The property is zoned commercial, but has to have a zoning designation for residential. The issue will go before the St. Louis County Council, but Powers said he did not know when or if there would be public hearings.

A representative of Commercial Development told the Times that the property was under contract to be sold to Foxtower LLC.

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