UPDATED: Green Park becomes hub of new construction

Building of new Fresh Thyme sparking revitalization efforts on Lin Ferry Drive

James Mello

James Mello

By Gloria Lloyd

Green Park is the hub of new construction in south county right now with the building of the highly anticipated Fresh Thyme organic grocery store, two new fast-food restaurants and existing businesses upgrading their appearance.

Construction on the new Fresh Thyme store at the site of the former Tesson Ferry Library is continuing even on weekends in anticipation of a possible fall opening, according to city officials.

The Green Park McDonald’s at 5904 S. Lindbergh Blvd. was demolished last week to make way for a new, sleeker McDonald’s that will add two drive-thrus and other more modern features not found in the dated facility that had stood at the corner of South Lindbergh Boulevard and Mueller Road since before the city’s incorporation.

Just blocks away, construction has begun on a new Taco Bell next to the Dairy Queen. The new fast-food restaurant will replace the former Taco Bell location at the corner of Lindbergh and Tesson Ferry that abruptly closed last year.

“Investment of this caliber is a great sign for the health of the city and something that we can all be very proud of,” City Administrator/City Clerk James Mello said.

Both the Lindbergh and Mehlville school districts benefit from the business boom in Green Park, since both the city and its business district is split between the two school districts. The new Fresh Thyme store will be in Lindbergh Schools, down the road from the new Aldi store that opened last year with a more prominent location along Interstate 55 than the old store across the street.

The new Aldi is in the Mehlville School District. Nearby, Dairy Queen and the Panda Express next to the QuikTrip are also recent additions to the Green Park streetscape.

When the St. Louis County Library Board of Directors announced it would close the Tesson Ferry Library — allegedly because of the sinkholes on the site — and move its operations to the new Grant’s View Branch Library across from Grant’s Farm, Green Park officials talked about slating the area around it for redevelopment, especially Lin Ferry Drive, the one-block street between Lindbergh and Tesson Ferry.

With the Fresh Thyme now opening as the new star attraction on Lin Ferry, redevelopment seems to be happening more organically, however. The facade of one of the strip malls along the street is being rebuilt, and new stores are opening. New businesses set to open soon alongside existing storefronts and offices in the strip, including the Call and Uncle Leo’s Pizza, include Grandma’s Playroom, a children’s activity center, the Bolshnevik Ballet and Mama’s Pretzels.

Businesses around the city are sprucing themselves up.

Some businesses have already ordered new signs, including Bartolino’s South next to McDonald’s, and Mello said that Pasta House and Neighbors Credit Union also plan improvements to go along with the citywide trend.

After a week of salvaging materials from inside the building, the McDonald’s came down in just one day June 14.

When it reopens in September, the new fast-food restaurant will be unlike any other in the country, owner-operator Nolan Ruiz said when the city’s Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the plan in February.

“It’ll actually be the first one in the USA with a playplace,” Ruiz said of the particular design that he is building in Green Park. “So it’s the first of its kind in the United States.”

The same design has been successfully used in Europe, he added.

Other than look, the two major changes from the current design will be two drive-thrus and moving the trash enclosure to a less prominent part of the parking lot, civil engineer Patrick Bennett said.

The new Taco Bell is currently under construction next to Dairy Queen at 6080 S. Lindbergh Blvd., south of Flori Drive. The board unanimously approved the request of K-Mac Enterprises to build the new restaurant, with Ward 1 Alderman Carol Hamilton absent.

Taco Bell wanted to own its own property, which is why it closed up shop at Lindbergh and Tesson Ferry. The new site has everything that the company was looking for, including close access to Interstate 55, Mello said.

Although it seems like all the projects are happening at once, many have been in the works for years, he said.

Some projects were stalled when the Great Recession hit in 2008-2009 and are just now being picked up nearly a decade later. But whatever the cause of the construction boom around the city, the phenomenon is real. Mello only began running the city in November, but said that longtime Deputy City Clerk Diane DeLonjay has confirmed that the city is buzzing more than usual.

“We’ve never been this busy before,” he said. “It’s just been a lot of reinvestment into the community.”