Walmart plans to build a third of its Neighborhood Market stores in St. Charles County, this time in Dardenne Prairie on a portion of an 86.50-acre tract known as the Bopp property. The tract is north of Feise Road near Bryan Road.
But city officials still must approve a planned unit development (PUD) request for 15.79 acres of the 86.50-acre tract. Some residents at the first of two scheduled public hearings on March 9 regarding the PUD request were less than enthusiastic about the store.
Walmart announced on March 9 that it plans to build the smaller-sized Neighborhood Market grocery store and a gas station at the site. The approximately 46,000-square-foot store is about a fourth of the size of a regular Walmart Supercenter store, and is also smaller than competing supermarkets.
In January, Walmart opened its first two Neighborhood Market stores in the St. Louis area in St. Peters. The stores are located at 3031 Mid Rivers Mall Drive and 45 Sutters Mill Road. The Mid Rivers Mall Drive store has a gas station.
The owners of the tract, Cora Bopp Limited Partnership, plan to develop it in phases. In February, the partnership submitted the PUD request, which calls for a 50,000-square-foot grocery store, 24,000 square feet of retail space, 26,000 square feet of a bank or retail space, 3,000 square feet for a fast food restaurant and a 740-square foot gas station.
Residents had a chance on March 9 to comment on the PUD request at the first of two public hearings – this one before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
The second public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16, before the city’s Board of Aldermen at Dardenne Prairie’s City Hall at 2032 Hanley Road.
Mayor David Zucker said in an email sent to residents that Walmart is serious about building a store in the city because market surveys show that people living near the Bopp property spend a lot of money on groceries. Other grocery stores have not shown any interest in the Bopp property, he said.
Some residents didn’t like the appearance of the stores depicted in drawings submitted. Problems and concerns about hours of operation and truck deliveries will have to be addressed by Walmart, Zucker said. He added that the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission explained on March 9 that the city can’t exclude a Walmart grocery store simply because it likes another grocery chain better. The city can regulate appearance, noise, traffic, landscaping and other issues.
The Planning and Zoning Commission and city staff also were not pleased with a traffic study submitted by the partnership. The commission recommended approval of the PUD provided that 17 issues raised by the city, any widening of Bryan and Feise Road has to come off the Bopp property, and changes in the store’s appearance must be addressed to comply with the city’s municipal code, he said.
The development of the tract has been more difficult than expected, Zucker said. The Walmart proposal is the first major tenant so far.
Zucker said the grocery store is expected to generate about $300,000 in sales tax revenue for the city and about $155,000 annually in property taxes, which go to schools and other local government entities. The store is expected to have up to 95 full- and part-time employees.
Even through the city already has approved a site plan for the overall site, the developer is required to submit more detailed plans for phasing in the development.
The board’s major action on the tract so far has been in favor of nearby residents. The city agreed last March to vacate an unimproved section of Devon Drive’s right-of-way to prevent encroachment from development into the nearby Villages of Bainbridge subdivision.
Walmart’s interest in the property was tipped off in PUD documents submitted to the city in February. While they did not indicate specific tenant, a landscaping plan includes the word “Walmart” in a column.
Artist’s renderings for the proposed grocery store included in the partnership’s paperwork also depict a storefront similar to a Walmart Neighborhood Market store like the two that opened in St. Peters.