Court Drive lawsuit seeks to overturn denial of commercial plan


“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony
Executive Editor

Mike Anthony
Roughly a year ago, Dr. George Despotis of Des Peres had the temerity to inform the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen that he is “not a commercial developer.”
As readers may recall, we opined about the ridiculousness of the good doctor’s assertion, citing his numerous attempts to commercially develop the Court Drive and West Watson Road area of the city that was ravaged by the New Year’s Eve tornado that swept through the city in 2010.
Despotis’ proposals to commercially develop the area have been met with vehement objections by residents and city officials alike.
Yet Despotis told aldermen in November 2016, “… I am not a commercial developer, but rather a trustee with both attendant fiduciary responsibilities and ethical directives pursuant to my mother’s expressed interests in equality and fair play.”
Despotis serves as trustee of the Olga Despotis Perpetuities Trust, which last week filed a lawsuit against Sunset Hills seeking to overturn the Board of Aldermen’s rejection of Despotis’ latest proposal to commercially develop the tornado-damaged area. The suit is no surprise, as Despotis’ legal counsel has been making noises about taking legal action for some time. The doctor’s attempts to develop the area commercially go back roughly six years.
At the same meeting in November 2011 when the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to amend the city’s comprehensive plan to allow for both single-family residences and attached housing in the tornado-damaged area, Despotis proposed a commercial use within the site.
In 2015, Despotis told the Call that he was working with Pace Properties on a commercial development that could bring a grocery store to the area, ideally paired with a bank, a pharmacy or an office building.
Since early 2016, he has proposed various iterations for constructing a credit union at the northwest corner of West Watson and Lindbergh, coupled with a residential component.
All have been denied by city officials, most recently in October.
The suit contends the denial was “arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, and unreasonable.”
It’s not up to us to determine the merits or lack thereof of Despotis’ lawsuit, as a judge will determine that.
But the fact that Despotis is now suing the city to overturn its denial of his attempts to commercially develop the area does, in fact, make him a commercial developer.