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On the Road: Olivette and University City Drive Toward Development of the Olive and I-170 Corridor

More than two years after forming a joint task force, representatives of both cities are moving ahead with a plan.

 and Olivette are working together to explore redevelopment initiatives along the Interstate 170 and Olive Boulevard corridor.

In early 2009, the cities formed the Joint Redevelopment Task Force (JRTF) to study the benefits of collaboration and how they could make it happen.

The Road to Collaboration

“We have been talking about this issue for years, as something that is a real possibility for both communities considering the synergy around that intersection,” Olivette City Manager T. Michael McDowell said.

Once both cities agreed the concept was worth exploring, they created the task force to research how the corridor could be developed as one district, even though it crosses municipal lines.

“It’s important we present a united front to the development community,” said. “If you come here, it won’t be a hassle. If you create something that will include both cities, it will be as though you are working with one municipality.”

A Hometown Hub

Welsch said the I-170 corridor in Olivette and University City lies at the center of the region.

“Minutes from the county seat of Clayton and the airport, very close to (Interstates) 70 and 270, it’s perfectly situated. But if you look at it, despite the benefits and potential of the interchange, the potential has not been realized,” she said.

Olivette Mayor Jean Antoine said the task force must figure out how the two cities can come together to form a single entity for this and future projects.

“We want businesses that can build over time and still be a viable part of the community, not like the big boxes that come and go, leaving vacancies,” Antoine said. “We want developers to come together to develop sustainable projects that will grow.”

He said the area in question could benefit the region in the same way as The Loop in University City.

Plans and Progress

The task force has been meeting monthly since it formed in 2009. Soon after getting to work, the JRTF sought advice from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) St. Louis's Technical Assistance Program (TAP). TAP recommended the two cities work together to improve the area and noted the benefits will outweigh any obstacles and drawbacks.

Welsch, a member of the task force, said the JRTF is finalizing its report for both cities.

“We make specific recommendations in the report on how to proceed in creating a cohesive area that’s welcoming to developers,” she said. “That includes how to deal with two sets of taxing, infrastructure, codes, design standards, zoning and permitted uses that each city has now.”

Antoine said that in order to appear as a single entity, both cities will have to agree on a range of issues. That way, a developer would only have to get approval from one city. The other city would automatically be on board because the agreed-upon principles for the area.

The Next Step

Once the task force finalizes its report, members will vote on whether to accept it. Then the report will be presented to both city councils at a joint meeting.

“I am hoping that each council wants us to continue the work by either creating another task force or by continuing this one,” said Welsch, . “Then, I hope we could get funding to do a master plan and funding to start marketing the area to attract the kind of development we want. My vision is to get all of the prep work done now so as soon as the market changes, we’re ready to move.”

Task force members hope to present their report to both city councils in September or October.

Lois August 11, 2011 at 05:33 PM
It would be terrific to see both communities develop a mixed use fitness and natatorium (indoor swimming) facility at this location. It would be even better if the facility could be shared with the public schools, similar to the Center of Clayton, in order to extend the hours of use and maximize the financial investment in the project.
Kevin August 11, 2011 at 06:29 PM
My fantasy is an attractive market without gates to which I can walk or safely ride a bike, with a excellent selection of organic products. Just about anything else that is clean, well-designed and upscale would also be nice.
Pete August 11, 2011 at 11:48 PM
"More than two years after forming a joint task force, representatives of both cities are moving ahead with a plan." And the plan is....after two years of study the task force has agreed to a plan, to study a plan. Remarkable!
Rev. Renita Marie Lamkin August 12, 2011 at 02:30 PM
It is my desire to see plans that do not involve wiping out my neighborhood.
Billy Frank Thornton August 13, 2011 at 09:36 AM
This area is not vacant or obsolete (as I). Lived in this area for 60 years...then it WAS vacant. Wish there was some consideration for the existing business and residential community. Instead...a cloak of secrecy, clouded in mystery, a "task force" plotting behind closed doors for the last two years, the fate of our community. When questioning the financial feasiblity or desirablity of this endeavor...my post gets deleted. Please shed some light on topic OR buy me out so I can go fishing in Belize. William Thornton, 8x34 Richard Ct. U.City
Myra Lopez August 13, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Mr. Thornton, thanks for your feedback. I can assure you University City Patch is not deleting your posts.
Stephen J. Robin August 17, 2011 at 01:47 PM
What an amazing opportunity exists to create a 'first gateway' to St. Louis to all those travel down I-170. Where is the vision of buildings soaring into the sky. We have an area on either side of the highway that are more than four acres on each side. The twin towers in New York each had a footprint of ONE acre. Why not really dream of a vision, a vision of two tower buildings, tributes to the amazing courage, strength and business acument of America, sitting either side of the highway, making a real statement about being in the midwest, in the center of America, in the Heartland. If we are going to have a dream, dream big, dream large. The buildings and developments that are remembered today came from big dreams. The Arch in St. Louis, Sears Tower in Chicago, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers. Where are the dreams? Where is the vision? Where are the visionaries? With one foot in Olivette and one foot in University City, what an amazing statement could be made.
Thelma Jones August 19, 2011 at 11:22 PM
I would love to see a elegant restuarant in the area. Fine dinning is a thing of the pass in our neighborhood. Why do we have to travell so far away from home to be entertained in elegance. What happens when our out of town guest want to see what we have to offer beside going to the loop? We need to step up to the plate and make a showing.I know we can do it and If we build it, people will come.
Sebastian Serra August 20, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Several years ago (back when Leham Walker was in charge of community development), there were plans drawn up for the redevelopment of the Ucity side of this area. I wonder whatever happened to those plans? The city spent resources on that project, and nothing ever came of it. I would love to see an article on how many proposals, money, and time has been spent on this area for redevelopment. If we couldn't redevelop it back when the economy was strong, how is it going to happen now. Sorry to sound so negative, but those of us who have lived in Ucity for at least 10 years are tired of seeing money and time spent over and over again on the same thing, with no results.
Billy Frank Thornton September 14, 2011 at 04:52 AM
Where are the resources?

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