Walmart Development Debate Reignited In Shrewsbury

SHREWSBURY, MO. (KTVI) – A showdown is looming over a proposed new Walmart Supercenter in Shrewsbury.  In this small suburb nestled among the City of St. Louis, Affton, and Webster Groves taxpayers could end up paying nearly a third of the cost of the project.  

Those taxpayers who will be most heavily impacted live in the Affton School District.  The possible site for the project is in the school district.  The close to 2500 students would be giving up millions in property tax revenue as part of Tax Increment Financing, or TIF.  

The Affton School Board decided to at least say something about it, Tuesday night. The board unanimously passed a resolution calling the TIF unfair.

The new Walmart would anchor the 24 acre Kenrick Plaza site on Watson Road; the centerpiece of a $46 million project.  

The City of Shrewsbury will give up 50% of new sales tax revenues; Affton schools will give up 100% of new property tax revenues, for up to 20 years.  The TIF would funnel up to $15 million away from taxpayers and back to the developer.      

‘We will forfeit around $150,000 a year for 20 years, which means the forfeiting of about $3million,’ said John Brazeal, the Affton School District`s Business Director.

‘$3m goes a long way to renovating classrooms, to establishing curriculum, applying technology,’ said Affton School Board Member, Mike McNeil.

Both men are members of the 12 member TIF commission.  

Supporters say the project beats what is there now:  including the empty, decaying, Kenrick Movie Theater.  Property values have dropped 43% in 7 years; sales tax revenues are down nearly 70% since 2000. The site has been declared ‘blighted’ to allow for the TIF.

But there are successful businesses in operation, like the St. Louis Sports Zone Bar and Grill, that are certainly not ‘blighted’.  

This deal hardly seems fair from Sports Zone customers to those who work for nearby Walmart rivals, like Shop-n-Save.  

‘Being that they are using taxes, I`m really against it,’ said Asmir Menkovic, a Shop-n-Save worker.  

He said the proposal had him worried about his job.  

‘Walmart can move somewhere else.  Why tear down all these businesses on these people inconvenience this whole neighborhood and this whole area with taxpayer money,’ said Sports Zone customer, Linda Jean.  

‘Every big game we have here, it`s wall to wall people. We have the best food in town; the best drink specials. For them to take that away from Shrewsbury, it`s ludicrous,’ said Sports Zone manager, Luis Ayala, who said the business had been there for close to 11 years.  

There are already two nearby Walmart Supercenters;   one about 3 miles away, the other about 5.  

The TIF commission is holding a public hearing on this Wednesday night at Shrewsbury City Hall.  Shrewsbury aldermen, not the TIF commission, will have the final say.

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