Developers eye Sunset subdivision

By Robert Chalupny

Residents in the 57-acre Sunset Manor subdivision in Sunset Hills could be packing their bags soon as a result of a potential commercial redevelopment project.

The Novus Development Co. of Webster Groves is working toward a buyout of the area with the goal of constructing a retail center that perhaps would include some office space. Sunset Manor is east of Lindbergh Boulevard, north of Watson Road and just south of Interstate 44.

Joe Walsh, Novus Development’s general counsel, told the Call last week that he has roughly 85 to 100 signed contracts from residents who are willing to sell their property.

Novus has made a standing offer to all residents in which the company will pay each homeowner 175 percent of his or her home’s 2003 assessed value. For example, a home assessed at $100,000 would be worth $175,000 to the company. Each contract is good for one year and has a six-month renewal option.

Walsh said that there has been some communication with Sunset Hills city officials, but nothing formal.

Sunset Hills Mayor James A. Hobbs told the Call that the city had received notification from Novus Development of its intentions and about a town-hall meeting it conducted last month with Sunset Manor residents.

No plans have been finalized at this point, according to Walsh, who noted the company still is looking at retailers and nothing has been set in stone. Walsh said he was looking at perhaps attracting some retailers from outside of St. Louis looking to come to the area.

“We have a lot of ideas,” Walsh said. “It’s exiting, but challenging.”

Novus Development officials will submit plans to the city when they believe they enough contracts signed to make the case that redevelopment is warranted.

“That could be a hundred or more,” Walsh said.

The Sansone Group last year proposed a redevelopment project for the Sunset Manor area. The company proposed a retail center in the area that would have been called Sunset Crossing. Ultimately, there was not enough support from the city or the residents to make the project happen.

Hobbs told the Call last week that the Sansone Group proposal originally was considered by the city because there seemed to be a lot of residents that wanted to sell their property.

The Sansone Group offer to residents was to pay them 150 percent of a homes’ assessed valuation, but not all the residents wanted to move.

Walsh told the Call that he felt confident in the company’s ability to obtain the property. “We believe that we will be successful in acquiring the property that we want to acquire,” he said.