Despotis claims he’s ‘not a commercial developer’

By Mike Anthony

It’s truly unbelievable what some elected officials, appointed officials, residents or developers will say during the course of a public meeting.

Sometimes they say something that is so ludicrous that you have to ask yourself: Did they really say that?

Such was the case last week when Dr. George Despotis of Des Peres had the audacity to tell the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen, “… 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.”

Really? Let’s look at the good doctor’s track record for properties he owns and those held in a trust established by his late mother, Olga, in 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.

As readers may recall, Despotis has been attempting for years to commercially develop those properties over the vehement objections of residents.

At the same meeting in November 2011 when the city’s 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 for redeveloping three parcels at the northwest corner of West Watson and Lindbergh.

Last year, 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.

In March, the doctor proposed constructing a bank/credit union at the northwest corner of West Watson and Lindbergh. Just last month, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of a 20-home development of attached houses from Pulte Homes and a credit union on property owned by Despotis. Aldermen will consider the proposal this month.

Despotis certainly has the right to propose commercial uses for his properties, but city officials also have the right to reject the doctor’s plans.

However, for Despotis to assert he’s “not a commercial developer” — particularly when his attorney John King has pledged to sue the city if officials do not allow the doctor to develop the properties commercially — simply is ludicrous.

This isn’t rocket science: If Despotis is proposing commercial uses for properties he owns, that makes him a commercial developer — case closed.