Fenton Chrysler plant revitalized with TIF

Amazon, Grey Eagle build at Fenton Logistics Park

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

Five years after getting tax-increment financing, the Fenton Logistics Park at the former Chrysler plant is up and running with plans to expand and grow.

St. Louis County awarded the 295-acre site in Fenton a TIF in 2016, after the city of Fenton asked the county to spearhead the process because Fenton didn’t have the dedicated staff required to handle such a complex tax incentive process.

The County Council unanimously agreed April 27 that five years later, Fenton Logistics was meeting the redevelopment requirements of the TIF and using the funds properly.

The Chrysler plant closed in 2009, leaving a huge empty building. In bankruptcy proceedings, the car company asked to strip the building to the ground and sell it for scrap, and the court agreed.

“This as you can imagine was a long-gestating project from when Chrysler shuttered the property in 2009,” said Husch Blackwell attorney Ernesto Segura, representing the developer at the latest TIF hearing. “This site was nothing but concrete, it has been an extraordinary task to accomplish that. There was no infrastructure  — it has all new utilities, all new internal roads. … We’re proud for the Fenton Chrysler plant to come back to life.”

Under the TIF, developer US Capital Development proposed a premier logistics center, an industrial use that would have retail uses fronting Interstate 44, with new streets, driveways and utilities required to become a logistics park. The developer also got state law changed so it could get a “super TIF” and brownfields funds to contribute to the $10-12 million cost to get the site ready. The TIF funded six new buildings in five years with approximately 1 million square feet under roof, including an Amazon location and 200,000 square feet under construction for Grey Eagle Distributors, an Anheuser-Busch distributor. The back 95 acres were sold to BNSF railway for a future interchange. That could make the park more attractive to companies that need rail.

Four buildings are completely leased and a fifth is occupied by a local Fenton company looking to expand. The seventh building will be fully leased by Amazon.

Wally’s Fuel Center gas station will be built on I-44 next to future retail, hotels and restaurants, which will also serve the growing number of employees working at the logistics center.  The Fenton Fire Protection District also bought property for a future firehouse.

The park is in the 3rd District of Councilman Tim Fitch, who lives in unincorporated Fenton.

“I’m old enough to remember when both Chrysler plants were there — it was devastating to see them leave, however I think what we’re seeing go up there is a very good project,” Fitch said. “… I think that’s a good use of the TIF laws, but it’s horrible that a corporation can walk away and leave that to the taxpayers to help fix — it doesn’t sit well.”