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Kenrick Developer Wants $20 Million in TIF Assistance

The Shrewsbury TIF commission met for the first time Wednesday.

The redeveloper of Kenrick Plaza is seeking $20 million in public assistance from the City of Shrewsbury to build a controversial Walmart Supercenter.

G. J. Grewe revealed a preliminary plan for the approximately 25-acre site, located in the 7400 block of Watson Road near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Grewe made the presentation Wednesday at the City of Shrewsbury's first Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission meeting at the .

In addition to a Walmart, Grewe's total $43-million redevelopment plan calls for several other smaller retailers to replace the site of the vacant Kenrick 8 Cine movie theater, which closed in 2007. That area is referred to in the plan as Upper Kenrick Plaza and includes a strip shopping center and smaller outlots.

Lower Kenrick Plaza is defined as an area northeast of a creek that runs through the site and includes a and store. While part of the overall redevelopment plan, Lower Kenrick Plaza is not part of the proposed TIF area.

According to James Mello, an attorney with Armstrong Teasdale representing Grewe, the anticipated costs of the entire project are $47,018,051. The private costs would come to $27 million. The remaining $20 million would come from the proposed TIF.

Mello stressed that those figures are “ballpark totals,” and the proposed project will be further refined once the cost benefit analysis is completed and considered in later TIF Commission meetings. He added that they were operating in a “very chilling economic environment” and there could be changes to their economic assumptions as the proposal progresses.

John Brancaglione, of Peckham Guyton Albers Viets (PGAV), the city's redevelopment consultant, told the commission they are in the process of creating the TIF plan as well as Community Improvement District (CID) and Transportation Development District (TDD) plans. They will also carry out the cost-benefit analysis.

Those reports will be presented at a Sept. 14 TIF Commission meeting where commission members can ask questions about PGAV's report. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Shrewsbury City Center.

Wednesday's meeting was open to the public, but no public comments were taken. Once the TIF proposal and redevelopment plan is in the hands of the commission, further public hearings will be scheduled to gauge the public opinion.

Grewe representatives told the commission the TIF assistance is needed because of the extensive grading and other site-related issues they will have to address. The site is currently sloped from northwest to northeast and includes a 45-foot fall, the representatives said.

Besides having to deal with the existing creek that divides Upper and Lower Kenrick Plaza, the site also includes guy wires connected to a nearby radio and television transmission tower that cannot be moved, the representatives said.

Gary Grewe, president of the company and redeveloper of the Gravois Bluffs area in Fenton, told the commission Kenrick site would require extensive work.

Mello told the commission taxable sales at Kenrick Plaza have declined since 1999, when they totaled $1.4 million, which represented 35 percent of the city's budgeted amount. 2011's taxable sales were reported to be $1.18 million, which represents 21 percent to the budgeted amount.

He also told the commission the assessed valuation of the plaza in 2005 was $4.5 million, but in 2009 it fell to $3.4 million. The assessed valuation remains approximately the same for 2011, but he added if the plaza is redeveloped under the proposed TIF, the assessed value is estimated to rise to $5.58 million.

The new commission also elected officers to serve during its future meetings. Former Shrewsbury Mayor and Ward 1 resident Chairman Dan Lowery was elected chairman, Ward 2 resident Tim Geraghty was elected vice chairman, and Affton School District Board of Education President Mike McNeil was elected secretary. Also serving on the TIF Commission, among others, are John Brazeal, business director for the Affton School District; Mike Jones, senior policy advisor to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley; and Glen Powers, director of St. Louis County Department of Planning.

David Stokes, a policy analyst with the Show-Me Institute, said what he heard was “just a terrible economic fallacy.”

“Of course it's just preliminary, but from what I can tell it is just another example of the economic issues the East-West Council of Governments supported in their report two months ago, which is that every city is doing something to support their own little city, but it's killing our county's economic base, and it's hurting the region,” Stokes said. “It might benefit Shrewsbury in the short run but seems it's just going to be another type of TIF development that's going to hurt our region.”

“Maybe if it can't be done without public dollars, maybe it just shouldn't be done,” he said.

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