While the economy has been rather stagnant since 2008 there are signs of life when retail development and redevelopment opportunities surface.

While the economy has been rather stagnant since 2008 there are signs of life when retail development and redevelopment opportunities surface.
The city was contacted in late 2013 by UTW, a St. Louis development company, interested in partnering with the city in the possible development of 154 acres near the Kingshighway and Interstate 44 interchange.
Shortly thereafter, the city was approached by Super Market Developers, LLC, in partnership with Country Mart, for a possible redevelopment of the Forum Plaza Shopping Center to include a new, larger grocery store option.
I am happy to report that the City of Rolla has entered into preliminary funding agreements to determine the financial feasibility for both projects.
In both cases the developments have requested public financing and tax support using a variety of tax incentive programs, including tax abatement and a sales tax overlay.
The city willingly looks for such partnership opportunities when the public benefit exceeds the public tax support, but we also approach such opportunities with prudence as stewards of the public’s trust.
More recently the city has been approached with an opportunity for a new grocery store from Walmart called Neighborhood Market on the old McCutchen farm — a 40-acre undeveloped tract at Forum Drive and the 18th Street roundabout.
The 40-acre tract is currently zoned R-1 single-family residential property, but the current owner is interested in doing a mixed-use development of that property.
Mixed-use developments attempt to blend the needs and interests of a variety of commercial and residential uses in a planned and orderly way.
Walmart has submitted an application to rezone the “internal” eight acres (immediately northeast of the roundabout) as commercial zoning for purposes of building a 42,000-square-foot grocery store. Walmart has not requested any public financing or tax support for their project.
Property owners have a right and an expectation to determine how best to utilize their property subject to the planning and zoning regulations imposed by the city.
The city council is challenged with finding that careful balance between competing needs and wants of the surrounding neighborhood, the desires of the owner and ultimately the best interests of the larger community.
On July 8, the city’s planning and zoning commission will conduct the first public hearing on the application. Pending P&Z’s recommendation, the matter will move to the city council on July 21 with a second public hearing.
When considering the rezoning of properties, the city council does consider the impact on surrounding neighborhoods and on infrastructure (streets, traffic, stormwater and utilities).
Ultimately, the city is not judging the merits of a Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store project; rather it is judging the appropriate and reasonable use of the property.
The private market ultimately determines the final retailers — and that’s good for Rolla.