South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Sunset Hills hears Despotis petition for drive-thru bank

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen heard three public hearings June 13 related to the commercial rezoning of residential property on West Watson Road near Court Drive.

 Olga Despotis Perpetuities Trust is seeking to rezone 12405, 12411 and 12417 W. Watson Road from R-2 residential to PD-LC planned development – limited commercial in order to operate a bank with drive-thru teller and ATM lanes.

It is a proposal that is very familiar to the city. George Despotis, of the trust, has appeared several times before the city since 2015 to redevelop the properties, presenting different plans to rezone the 2010 tornado-damaged property on West Watson, Lindbergh and Court Drive to allow for a mixed-use development. Those plans were all denied, leading to a lawsuit between Despotis and the city that a judge ruled on in July 2022, ruling that the city’s repeated denial to rezone the property was “unreasonable, arbitrary and violated” Despotis’s constitutional rights. Following the judge’s ruling, Despotis once again appeared before the city requesting the zoning change.

The proposed bank would be a one-story, 4,234-square-foot building, with three drive-up lanes and one ATM located on the west side of the building. The bank would operate Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday hours would be 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A traffic study submitted to the city shows that the site would generate about 70 to 100 additional trips during peak periods along Lindbergh Boulevard.

There would be two entrances to the bank: one off Lindbergh and the other off West Watson. The exit to Lindbergh would be a right-turn only.

Land planner Jim Hall of Hall Associates, representing Despotis, added that part of the new plan also included a veterans memorial monument with a small courtyard and seating area on the southeast corner of the property where West Watson intersects with Lindbergh Boulevard.

“Dr. Despotis has made a big commitment to veterans in the area and this is a way we’d like to continue that commitment,” Hall said. “It will help create a focal point for this corner.”

Despotis told the board the monument would primarily be dedicated to World War II veterans.

“I have known probably over a hundred in the area. In addition to those veterans I thought we could … if the city is in agreement, find out if anyone has been a World War II veteran in Sunset Hills … or if there were family members of Sunset Hills residents who are World War II veterans that they would like to commemorate there, that might make a good platform,” Despotis said. “I don’t have a concept plan right now but I was thinking elegant granite with their names inscribed.”

Ward 1 Alderman Ann McMunn questioned if the ATM hours would also follow the same hours as the bank and shut down at 6 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, respectively. Despotis said the ATM would be 24 hours.

There were three bills that made up Despotis’s petition and all three were read for the first time by the board June 13. Despotis had requested a second-reading for all three bills as well, however the motion to suspend the rules for a second reading for the first bill of the petition failed to get enough votes, rendering the second-reading request on the two bills obsolete.

“If the first one didn’t pass, it’s irrelevant if the other two pass so … we can withdraw (the second reading request),” Hall said.

The bills will be read for a second time at the aldermen’s July 11 meeting.

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