Green Park gives initial OK to Lindbergh Boulevard redevelopment projects

Proposals would bring 54th Street Grill & Bar, Golden Corral to Green Park

By MIKE ANTHONY

Preliminary approval of two commercial redevelopment projects along Lindbergh Boulevard recently was given by the Green Park Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen gave preliminary approval to a proposal to construct a new Lion’s Choice restaurant at 6032 S. Lindbergh Boulevard, next to the current site of Fantasy Coachworks at 6034 S. Lindbergh Blvd. An existing Lion’s Choice at 6106 S. Lindbergh Blvd. will remain open until the new restaurant is built.

The project also calls for realigning Yuma and Flori drives at their intersections with Lindbergh Boulevard. A Golden Corral and a 54th Street Grill & Bar later would be constructed in the area where Lion’s Choice currently is situated.

Aldermen will be asked to consider the formation of a community improvement district, or CID, to fund public infrastructure improvements for the Lion’s Choice redevelopment area, an attorney representing the developer later told the board.

In a separate matter, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously April 21 to give preliminary approval to a proposal to construct a QuikTrip convenience store and gas station at 6312 S. Lindbergh Blvd., the site of a former Cingular Wireless store.

Regarding the Lion’s Choice proposal, Lion’s Choice Chief Executive Officer Marv Gibbs told aldermen, “… You have an entire area which does not bespeak well of the city of Green Park as it sits. The proposal is to redevelop this approximate 12 acres to closely coincide with the Green Park master plan … What we plan to do here tonight is address the commercial sector and that is what Lion’s Choice would like to move forward with. The residential sector or tier behind would be ad-dressed by Realty Exchange and it’s not on the agenda tonight …

“The commercial redevelopment would be about five acres of land. It would be highlighted with a new intersection of Flori with Lindbergh — a modern intersection with signalization — and it would have all of the necessary infrastructure that such an intersection would require — sidewalks, curbs, the appropriate fire hydrants, water drainage, water detention and so forth …,” Gibbs said.

The new Lion’s Choice restaurant would be constructed on the north side of the intersection at what currently is 6032 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

“And then on the south side of that intersection, there’s approximately four acres to the south and two new restaurants would go in there. They’re first-class restaurants. One is called 54th Street Bar & Grill and the other is called Golden Corral. These are both sit-down restaurants, who we believe will do a great job …,” Gibbs said.

The first phase calls for the construction of the new Lion’s Choice to the north of a new, signalized “T” intersection at Flori Drive and Lindbergh Boulevard. That intersection would replace Fantasy Coachworks.

The second and third phases would allow construction of Golden Corral and 54th Street Grill & Bar immediately upon the opening of the new Lion’s Choice and demolition of the current Lion’s Choice restaurant building.

A connection with Yuma Place would occur as part of the fourth phase of the project. Dianne Graham of Realty Exchange told aldermen that two developers are interested in also constructing a residential component — likely attached villas for seniors — in that fourth phase.

During a public hearing on the Lion’s Choice proposal, two residents spoke in favor of the redevelopment — Heather Cotter and David Hays.

“I’m actually in favor of this redevelopment because I believe it will open up opportunity for us to sell our home to a commercial redeveloper and give us an opportunity to move into a neighborhood where we can pursue our hopes and dreams,” Cotter said. “I also think it will be better for Green Park because right now it’s very unsightly. I agree with what he said about that. It’s very run down and I think it will definitely look a lot more aesthetically pleasing …”

Hays said, “… We’ve been kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place since the Home Depot situation fell through, and I’m for it because right now I’m not sure what to do with the property. If I put a lot of money in it, I may lose the money I put in it. We really don’t know which way to go because this has been dragging on, ladies and gentlemen, so many years since the Home Depot. We really need to move on this so I move to a better place …”

During consideration of the proposal, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Thuston voiced concerns about traffic, noting that the new Lion’s Choice would not be accessible by Lindbergh, but by the reconfigured Flori.

“My concern is the flow of that traffic going into Ronnie Hills right now … It’s going to dump an awful lot of traffic back into that subdivision and there’s a lot of children back there …,” he said.

Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier traffic consultant Lee Cannon addressed some of Thuston’s concerns relating to traffic.

“One of the things we’ve discussed, if it would please the city, would be that we could design the entrances to indicate that you’re only supposed to turn right out of Lion’s Choice — if that would help. If you think that would help,” he said. “Now the people that wanted to go to and from the subdivision to come eat at the restaurant might be negatively impacted. But if that would be a benefit, we could do that. It’s my opinion that we won’t see by this development a lot of additional traffic that’s going to travel all the way from Green Park Road to Lindbergh on this route …”

Thuston also voiced concerns that the most recent study of traffic in the redevelopment area is 12 years old.

He later said, “… I’m all for the development. I think it’s a great plan and I praise Mr. Gibbs for doing such a nice job, but my major, major concern is if you look at phase one, phase two and phase three, all three of them are dumping a lot of traffic back onto Flori Drive … There’s going to be an awful lot of traffic back there. In phase four, there’s going to be a retirement center back there …”

Mayor Tony Konopka asked Thuston, “Do you have a recommendation in regard to that, the traffic?”

Thuston said, “I have none, no. I think we need to do something. Reduce the speed. Enforce it. Something that keeps the traffic out of that subdivision …”

The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to approve the preliminary subdivision plat for the project, but voted 5-1 with Thuston opposed to approve the preliminary development plan, which stipulated the developer and city officials will work together on traffic-control provisions to be included in the final development plan.

Regarding the proposal for the CID, attorney Robert Klahr of Armstrong Teasdale told aldermen, “… You’ve heard a lot about the challenges of the site and also about its potential to spur several phases of development. But the reason for the request for a Community Improvement District is that the proposed site for phase one, two and three standing alone has a significant amount of public infrastructure needs that obviously have been the focal point of your discussion so far. And without some additional source of funding, the project itself would not support that level of public infrastructure.

“And so the developer would like to propose the formation of a Community Improvement District to help fund certain of those public infrastructure costs …”

Among infrastructure improvements to be funded include traffic needs, relocation of utilities and stormwater improvements, Klahr said, adding, “The estimated cost to be funded by that Community Improvement District would be approximately $900,000 …”

The revenue would be generated by an additional sales tax of up to 1 percent on sales within the redevelopment area.

“… At this point, we’d be looking to come back with a proposed development agreement with respect to the formation of the Community Improvement District presumably at next month’s meeting,” Klahr said.

Regarding the QuikTrip proposal, attorney Ed Griesedieck of Herzog Crebs told aldermen, “As an overview, what we’re looking to do is to develop the site as a planned development. (It) has two uses in that planned development — both a QuikTrip and an outlot … which would be a fast-food restaurant. It would dramatically improve the intersection, the traffic flow in the area and then bring a quality development to the site. We’re the owner under contract. We would divide the parcel in two different pieces, if you will. The total acreage is 2.88 acres. The south side, or the QuikTrip side on the right, is about 1.98 acres. So that’s a little under 2 acres. And then the north side, or the left side, would be .88 acres for the restaurant.

“We’re asking for full plan approval on the QuikTrip and conceptual approval on the fast-food restaurant. The restaurant would need to come back in front of you all with the final plan for your approval …,” he said.

Regarding traffic, Griesedieck said, “Along Lindbergh, as you all know, MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) controls the street. And what we’ve proposed is the plan that we have presented to MoDOT and this is what we would build. So if MoDOT changed their mind or whatever, we would have to come back to the city. So it’s only this plan. Although MoDOT controls it, we’re showing it on our plan and that’s what we have to build.

“What it would do is change the development or change the site now from three legs, if you will — it’s a three-way light to a four-way light. It would change and improve the access … We would realign with Concord and the light …”