A site plan has been approved clearing the way for construction of a massive 500,000-square foot “spec” building – equal to nine football fields under roof – in the Premier 370 Business Park on the Mississippi River flood plain in St. Peters.
The St. Peters Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plans for the building submitted by Duke Realty Corp. with little debate at its March 4 meeting.
Ryan Hodges, development services manager for Duke Realty, told commissioners that, with improvements to the economy and restructuring of the levee district that protects the property, the time was right to begin development of a building.
Hodges said the recession and problems with the levee district had slowed development in the park.
“Unfortunately in the years from 2008 to 2014 we’ve not nearly seen as much growth in the St. Louis market as far as building construction,” he said.
Without the levee district restructuring, the proposed building would have been difficult to build at all, he said.
“The hope is that strong market demand, levee district restructuring as well as the city’s strong ongoing support is going to bring this project across the goal line,” Hodges said.
No specific user has been identified but Duke Realty Corp., which owns much of the land in the park, is looking at the area to provide “bulk warehouses similar to Earth City,” Hodges said.
“We’ve had a lot of farmland out there for quite a while,” said Keith McNames, chairman of the city’s planning and zoning commission. “It will be nice to see a building.”
The business park is a more than 800-acre development at Hwy. 370 near Interstate 70. Dayton Freight, a trucking company, is the only tenant in the development, having opened a 51,000-square-foot distribution center in 2011.
The project could break ground sometime in the next 60 days with approval of the site plan. Hodges said the building, featuring “tilt-up concrete” and extensive landscaping, may be completed by 2016.
The building and its parking lot will be built on 30 acres on the south side of Premier Parkway South, east of Executive Center Parkway.
St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano broke the news of the building at the city’s Board of Aldermen meeting on Feb. 26. He and other city officials say the new building could be a catalyst for development at the park, which has stalled in recent years.
City officials have touted its easy access to rail transportation and nearby interstates 70 and 370 and its proximity to 370 Lakeside Park, which has a 140-acre lake.
How many jobs the new development would generate and its tax revenue remains an unknown. “One of the things we’ve kept on promoting was jobs, jobs and jobs,” Pagano said. “This will be a mega job (development).”
Alderwoman Terri Violet (Ward 3) said she is happy to see jobs in her ward. “I’m excited about this; I think it’s great and welcome it with open arms,” Violet said.
City officials have been trying to boost the fortunes of the development, including asking St. Charles County officials last year to remove a ban on residential development to attract developers. The city had agreed to the ban in 2007 as part of an agreement on flood control.
In 2012, the city won a lengthy court battle brought by environmentalists over development on the flood plain. There also has been a debt restructuring issue for the levee district that protects the business park. Ownership of some land in the development has changed.
Pagano said city officials also are hearing that more development may be on the way at the park. “Things are really happening right now,” Pagano said. “We have had stumbling blocks in the past but those stumbling blocks are behind us.
“Premier 370 will be the place to go, there will be so many jobs there, I’m very proud of it.”