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Developers eye Premier 370 Business Park for mixed retail, residential use

unnamedSt. Peters officials and the St. Charles County Council plan to discuss allowing residential development in the Premier 370 Business Park, where a ban has been in effect since 2007.

The council agreed at their April 14 meeting to meet with St. Peters officials at a work session to discuss allowing a mix of retail and residential development to go along with commercial development on the more than 700-acre site on the Mississippi River flood plain. The business park is along Interstate 370 near I-70.

The meeting would take place at a work session on April 27 before the council’s regular meeting. However, even through councilmembers agreed to the meeting, they along with County Executive Steve Ehlmann were skeptical about responding to St. Peters’ proposed project because county officials lacked details.

In an April 8 letter to St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano, Council Chair Joe Brazil (District 2) said that in order for the county to address the issue “it is imperative we have a specific outline of the project so we may determine the impact the development may have on our community.”

Brazil asked Pagano to provide the exact location of any proposed residential development, acreage involved and the projected number of commercial, industrial and residential units planned.

Pagano stated in an April 10 response letter that the city was “not in a position where it can provide you (the county) with specific details to a project that, at this time, does not exist.”

Pagano said the city has been contacted by five residential developers who have expressed a “general interest” in developing housing in the Premier 370 development area that vary in location and types of housing. Preliminary discussions have included single and multi-family housing and “new urbanist style developments similar to the Streets of St. Charles,” the letter said.

The Streets of St. Charles project is at Interstate 70 and South Fifth Street in the city of St. Charles.

Pagano said there is reluctance to spend money on plans “until the preliminary issue of whether residential development will be permitted at all within the Premier 370 development is resolved.”

St. Peters previously had agreed to a ban on residential development as part of an agreement with the county on issues of flood protection and building of a levy.

For his part, Ehlmann said he wanted to protect the Fort Zumwalt and St. Charles school districts from getting little tax revenue from new students if the city diverted new taxes to fund project development as part of a tax-increment financing authority or TIF on the site.

Pagano, in his letter, said the city’s intent is to limit residential development in the Premier 370 Business Park area to no more than 100 acres. Based on a request from the Fort Zumwalt School District, any housing would be not more than a quarter of the business park land that is in the  school district.

If the county approves lifting the residential development ban with limitations, any proposed development would proceed with the same public notice and review process of any other housing development in the city, Pagano’s letter said.

It is not the first time Pagano has asked county officials about removing the ban.

Last year, Pagano said the city received an inquiry from a developer interested in 380 acres on the northern portion of the business park. That developer also discussed building a commercial and residential project similar to Streets of St. Charles.

Councilmembers at the April 14 meeting said they were willing to meet with the city of St. Peters. But Brazil repeated that county officials needed more detail.

“How can we have this conversation when we don’t know what they are talking about?” Brazil asked.

Elhmann agreed.

“Until you know exactly what they want to do – how many houses, how much retail – you don’t really know what impact it would have,” Ehlmann said.

But Councilmembers Joe Cronin (District 1), Dave Hammond (District 4) and Michael Klinghammer (District 6) said they wanted to see what the city had to say.

Brazil said he would forward the letter about the April 27 work session to the school districts and other taxing jurisdictions that cover the Premier 370 property.

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