Sunset Hills allows Jimmy John’s construction to move forward

Pictured above: The skeleton of the would-be Jimmy John’s on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018. Construction began at the site at 3751 S. Lindbergh Blvd. over a year ago but little progress has been made since. Photo by Erin Achenbach. 

By Erin Achenbach
Staff Reporter
eachenbach@callnewspapers.com 

The new Jimmy John’s in Sunset Hills has a second chance at life after the Board of Aldermen granted owner Steve Saladin an extension last week to continue developing the property.

The property, located at 3751 S. Lindbergh Blvd., has been an ongoing struggle since 2016, when Saladin first proposed building a Jimmy John’s with a drive-thru to the Board of Aldermen, along with other retail or business space he planned to lease out.

After a year in which the Planning and Zoning Commission repeatedly recommended the development but the Board of Aldermen continually struck it down due to resident outcry, the plan was ultimately approved.

Construction began on the site, with the concrete foundation poured and the steel skeleton of the building constructed, but progress halted in December 2017 and had not picked up since, despite an amended permit the city approved last March.

The city declared the site a nuisance in the fall and the property was cited for several municipal code violations. Saladin was given 30 days to clean up the property, which he did, but he missed a 90-day deadline on Dec. 18 to either take down the steel structure or make it safe.

In the meantime, City Administrator Eric Sterman recommended the board start taking bids to find a contractor to demolish the under-construction building.

“It’s a little bit humbling and more humiliating to be here again,” said Saladin to aldermen at the Jan. 8 meeting, telling them that he sank over $900,000 into the failed project.

“The problem has always been financing, which we lost when we lost our major tenant during the initial lease agreement process,” said Saladin, referring to a Total Access Urgent Care that had originally planned to lease the space next to the proposed Jimmy John’s. “Total Access Urgent Care was with us under a letter of intent, and our process took about 24 months and we couldn’t do anything on that property during that time.”

In the past, Saladin had also said that a Crazy Bowls and Wraps had been interested in locating on the site but also abandoned the plans when zoning took so long.

Saladin told the board that his bank recommended he request an additional 90 days to acquire the necessary funding and 120 days to begin construction.

“If we can gain commitment, I would think construction start would certainly be within 30 days of loan commitment from the bank. And that’s probably ultra-conservative,” said Saladin. “To complete…I would say, doors open maybe six months.”

Ward 4 Alderman Thompson Price suggested, with some hesitation, to grant Saladin the extension.

“I just want to make sure if we were to give you an extension for a timeline, I don’t want it to be so short that you would have to come back and ask for an extension in 30 days,” said Price. “I’d rather make this to a point if you can do this in 90 days, that’s the deadline, and if after 90 days that can’t be accomplished, then we would take our next steps moving forward with what we’d have to do.”

After further discussion, the board agreed to grant Saladin the extension, with the caveat that he attend every board meeting until there is a change in status for updates.