Sunset Hills TIF panel slated to vote on Novus proposal Monday, April 11

Staff Report

The Sunset Hills Tax Increment Finance Commission next week likely will direct the fate of nearly 255 homes in the Sunset Manor subdivision.

The commission is scheduled to vote on a $42 million TIF request at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 11, at the Sunset Hills City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

Novus Development Co. President John Browne wants to build a $163.9 million “lifestyle” shopping center with high-end shopping, a hotel and office space at Watson Road and Interstate 44 near South Lindbergh Boulevard. He wants the $42 million in TIF assistance to guarantee an adequate rate of return, or profit.

The commission solely is a recommending body. The Board of Aldermen will cast the binding vote.

If approved, the project would raze the 255 homes and several businesses. Not all residents have signed to sell to Novus, and at a recent public hearing, Browne said eminent domain was an option.

At least one alderman publicly has supported eminent domain for the project.

Longtime Ward 1 Alderman Michael Sawicki, who sought re-election April 5, said he supported eminent domain for the project in a written response to a Call questionnaire.

The Call went to press before Tuesday’s election.

If the commission does make a recommendation Monday, City Attorney Bob Jones previously said the Board of Aldermen could cast a final vote on Novus’ proposal when it meets Tuesday, April 26.

Nearly 500 people attended a recent public hearing to give opposition and support to the project.

Many homeowners and business owners didn’t want to leave, but several residents were ready to leave, saying the deal would give them better homes in better neighborhoods without the constant threat of eminent domain.

At the public hearing, the commission included a resolution on the meeting agenda recommending approval of Browne’s request but didn’t take a vote.

TIF Commission Chairman and Ward 2 Alderman John Smith told the audience that the commission had not determined its stance.