WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – Webster Groves residents spoke in opposition to a proposed $320 million redevelopment project at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
The mixed-use project is called Douglass Hill that would expand over 15 acres.
“I say this is a money grab by a bully developer claiming this is my way or the highway,” resident David Yates said during public comment.
Last year, the city of Webster Groves looked to revamp the area north of old Webster. The project involves 700 apartments, 100 condominiums, and more than 100,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.
Currently, more than properties reside in the area.
“The city of Webster Groves needs to have some growth and it needs to think about its future, and it needs to have a plan that will be sustainable so that 15-20 years from now, there (is) an expanding tax base,” said Larry Chapman, CEO of Seneca Commercial Real Estate.
“It’s going to make it fun, people will have places to go, restaurants to see. I mean, it is an opportunity to create street life and experience that Webster Groves hasn’t seen in over 40 years.”
The land has to first be approved by the council to be rezoned before a vote on the project can move forward. If the project is approved, $35 million worth of tax incentives would be on the line.
“It’s a win for the tax base, it’s a win for commercials. It’s a lose for certain neighborhoods, it’s a lose for the quality and charm of the historic downtown,” resident Bob Lazechko said during public comment.
“I’m in favor of development. I think development is a good thing to bring tax dollars to our city. It brings interest in doing that, but on the same thing, development should not be a win-lose situation, and the way I see is with the size and the scale of the project, it’s a win-lose situation for the city.”
Yates added that he is an architect and the plans are “by far the most dense number of units in a footprint I’ve seen. I’ve seen maybe one building or two buildings, but having seven buildings or eight buildings seven stories tall is just crazy.”
Webster City Council is not close to making a decision.
“We’re listening the best we can. We’re doing the best we can but we’re at the point where we’ve done as much as we can, and now we have to either go forward or not,” Chapman said.
The council plans to have a conversation about the proposed project outside of a normal meeting at later date. The next phase is the TIF public hearing which will be Oct. 27th.
For more information, visit the project’s website.