UNIVERSITY CITY, MO - There are mixed feeling and high tensions as University City continues its plan to bring in a big box retail store near Olive and Interstate 170.
“This development is needed! It is a good thing and has the potential to be a game-changer,” Rod Jennings said.
Though former 3rd ward councilman Rod Jennings believes this will bring a new life to one of the city’s most-challenged neighborhood, he tells me this would predominately affect the city’s African-American population the most.
“It should not be at the expense of the residents and if this is not done right, this is classic gentrification,” Jennings said.
Jennings points to small businesses, most being minority owned, bearing the heavy burden as well.
Though many homeowners may be getting more for their property, others are afraid they are not getting what they deserve.
To ease residents’ concerns, meetings with the Tax Increment Financing Commission have been set up.
At the first meeting at Mandarin House Banquet Hall, dozens of residents were turned away due to overcapacity.
The second meeting, held on Wednesday, returned to the same location.
That mishap led U. City resident Tom Sullivan to write a complaint to Missouri Assistant Attorney General Jason Lewis claiming the city is violating sunshine laws.
“Obviously, they are violating the law simply because they are going to have a meeting in the same venue where they know a lot of people may not be able to attend,” Sullivan said.
City Manager Gregory Rose tells me there’s no laws being violated.
In fact, they’ve decided to add an additional audio and video room to accommodate all who want their voices to be heard.
“We sent out about 5,000 notices,” Rose said. “We expect at least 10% of that so we’re more than capable of handling the capacity.”