CREVE COEUR, Mo. – Everyone living or working near N. Graeser Road and Olive Boulevard seems to agree something must be done with the shopping center. They’re just incredulous about how a recent city council decision to deny a QuikTrip at that location can be ignored.
“It surprised the hell out of me,” said Bill Bradley, who runs the neighboring School Music USA. He’s been at the location for more than a decade.
“I do have a vested interest in my business that I think will be hurt by that QuikTrip.”
His portion of the strip mall would likely get a facelift in the redevelopment, with the strip mall next door getting demolished for the gas station.
“It’s becoming very dated. It looks old. It’s tired,” he said.
Nobody seems to disagree something needs to be done, including Brett Berger, who lives behind the strip mall.
“We are very pro-development,” he said. “The neighbors definitely want to see something better at that corner.”
Berger’s part of the group Graeser Neighbors for Safety. You can see signs around him in opposition to the QT. City Hall backed him by a 7-0 vote.
“That was a fantastic day. The council agreed with us unanimously,” Berger said. “They decided it wasn’t an appropriate project for a variety of different reasons.”
The developer then sued. And in a decision that seemed to shock everyone, a St. Louis County judge ruled against residents and the unanimous city council. The judge said Creve Coeur’s denial of the developer was, “…unlawful, unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, and constitutes an abuse of discretion.”
The judge then wrote, “…the City of Creve Coeur clerk is therefore ordered to issue a conditional use permit to QuikTrip…”
“There’s concern about the precedent of the city not being able to control its own,” Berger said. “When you’re doing city planning you want a variety of businesses and services, we’ve already got two gas stations with 14 gas pumps right here in one city block.”
Neighbor Kurt Lord, a commercial developer himself, said the city council based their rejection of the gas station development on a long-term plan on what they want Creve Coeur to look like.
“When they looked at the site and they heard from the school board and everybody, they said, ‘Hey, they’re a great operator, this is just the wrong place,’” Lord said.
Berger added: “If the city decides a development is not appropriate, will that developer simply go and seek a lawsuit? To overturn that every single time? And will the city be able to control their own planning?”
FOX 2 received no response from the city council or the Creve Coeur city attorney. We also reached out to the developer, Gershman, and have not heard a response.
We’ll stay on top of this developing story to see if the city government attempts to appeal.