Relocation policy eyed by Sunset Hills board for redevelopment site

Aldermen repeal Old Gravois Bridge pact with Fenton


To move forward on plans to redevelop the Holiday Inn-Viking Conference Center into new commercial office space, Sunset Hills aldermen first must approve a relocation policy in accordance with state law.

That relocation policy, which is set to be decided at the Board of Aldermen’s November meeting, provides monetary assistance to people and businesses displaced from new development.

While Roger Kreutz, who owns 8.18 acres on and around the Holiday Inn-Viking Conference Center, is attempting to sell the land site, City Attorney Robert C. Jones said the relocation policy must be approved before a redevelopment plan for the area can be authorized.

The board voted 6-1 Sept. 11 in favor of a resolution approving a request for redevelopment proposals at the property at the northwest corner of Lindbergh Boulevard and Watson Road. Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy was the lone “no” vote and Ward 3 Alderman Jan Hoffmann was absent.

Aldermen also voted 7-0 to authorize Gilmore & Bell as bond counsel for the project and also voted 5-2 to approve a contract with consulting firm Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets Inc. to offer consulting services to the city on the project. Hardy and Ward 2 Alderman Tom Hrastich were opposed to entering into a contract with PGAV.

Kreutz is seeking to sell the land and raze the four-story hotel that has been open since 1972. To assist in the development, the city is open to using taxing incentives like tax-increment financing, or TIF; a community-improvement district, or CID; or a transportation-development district, or TDD.

The TIF Commission for the proposed development was scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Aldermen tentatively are scheduled on Dec. 11 to introduce and vote on an ordinance approving the redevelopment plan.

Mayor John Hunzeker has said the request for redevelopment simply is a way for the city to enhance a highly visible commercial section of the city.

While Hardy believes the proposal is a good plan, he voted against the request for redevelopment because he is unsure whether the area fits the definition of a redevelopment area.

In the request for redevelopment proposals prepared by PGAV, “The city will consider proposals for the redevelopment of the area that consist predominantly of office uses while providing for the possibility of ancillary retail uses.”

The city will give preference to proposals that “offer a high-quality redevelopment program that complements the neighboring office and other commercial uses.”

At the time of the redevelopment agreement, developers are required to pay a deposit of $50,000 to the city. And five days prior to the establishment of an ordinance approving the redevelopment plan, the city will require that the developer pay “other outstanding and estimated costs of establishing the redevelopment program.”

As for the city’s payment of any funds to the redevelopment of the Viking area, city officials have said the request for redevelopment proposals simply is a request and not an obligation of funds.

In a separate matter, aldermen last week rescinded a previously approved $22,500 budget adjustment to fund a grant application to reconstruct the Old Gravois Bridge, which connects Sunset Hills and Fenton over the Meramec River.

Aldermen voted 7-0 to retract that budget commitment and repeal an ordinance establishing an intergovernmental agreement with Fenton. Ward 2 Alderman Tom Hrastich was absent from the Oct. 9 meeting.

Fenton aldermen decided last month that the city would move forward on the bridge project without Sunset Hills and believe they can complete the project at a cheaper cost to the city than the $700,000 originally agreed to by Fenton.

The originally proposed intergovernmental agreement calculated the bridge as an estimated $5.625 million project.

Officials from Sunset Hills and Fenton were seeking a $4.5 million reimbursement grant from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments and $1 million from St. Louis County.

The two cities had agreed to pay up to $1 million combined for the new bridge, with Sunset Hills paying no more than $300,000 and Fenton paying no more than $700,000.

The cities would have shared ownership of the new bridge and also split its maintenance costs. Because of unsafe conditions, the bridge is closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians and bicycles.

While the original proposal called for the old bridge to continue to be used for only pedestrian and biking purposes, Fenton officials now intend to designate biking and pedestrian lanes on both sides of the proposed new bridge.

Sunset Hills officials also learned last week that another proposed project involving East-West Gateway has been approved for funding.

City Engineer Anne Lamitola said that a federal grant will pay for 80 percent of a proposed $400,000 project to make needed stormwater improvements at the West Watson Road bridge.

With the grant, the city will pay a total of $8,000 for the $40,000 project.

“We have been notified by East-West Gateway that the city will be receiving $320,000 for the West Watson bridge replacement from a federal-funding grant that I applied for …,” Lamitola said. “Now the next step is for it to be approved by the board of directors for East-West Gateway.

“But there’s been no unforeseen issues with that, so that’s good news. That’s one of our stormwater issues over on Tributary B. And we will receive 80-percent funding.”