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Dardenne Prairie, Walmart get closer to agreement on proposed Bopp Property use

A new Walmart Neighborhood Market, proposed for a portion of a 15.79-acre tract north of Feise Road near Bryan Road in Dardenne Prairie, was once again on the agenda at a Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen work session and meeting on April 20.

According to an artist’s renderings and discussion among those involved, the building may offer an architectural style that hints of old California or New Mexico, may have less of an “industrial warehouse look” and may feature more earth-tone colors. Getting traffic to that new market also may involve new turning lanes and adjustments to Bryan and Feise roads.

All of these items were topics of discussion at the board’s April 20 meeting; however, no final decisions were made.

City officials got a look at an artist’s drawings for the 46,000-square-foot store and study results from a traffic study on the impact of the development along Feise and Bryan roads.

The board again voted to continue a public hearing on a planned unit development [PUD] request for the tract and tabled action on a bill adopting the PUD. The hearing and bill may be taken up at the board’s next scheduled meeting on May 4.

The PUD request was submitted in February by the Cora Bopp Limited Partnership, the owners of the tract. A public hearing on that request also was continued at the board’s March 16 and April 6 meetings.

The partnership owns 86.5 acres in the area, known as the Bopp tract, with the 15.79 acres being the first portion to be developed. The PUD request covers five parcels on the 15.79 acres – 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.

Two of the five parcels would be purchased by Walmart for the store and the gas station. On March 9, Walmart announced its plans to build the approximately 46,000-square-foot grocery store and gas station.

The store is about one-quarter of the size of a regular Walmart Supercenter and smaller than competing supermarkets. It would be the third Neighborhood Market recently opened in St. Charles County.

City officials have expressed concerns about the look of the grocery store and gas station. On April 6, Mayor David Zucker said city officials wanted something other than the “industrial warehouse look” that Walmart submitted with its original proposal. Zucker also said that the city is amenable to revising a city ordinance adopted in 2004 that sets architectural standards along Bryan Road and other parts of the city, adding that the standards were “antiquated.”

An entourage of Walmart officials presented the board and residents attending the April 20 meetings with a series of architectural drawings of possible looks for the store. Steve Bosch, a senior architect with Walmart, said the company may replace a largely gray exterior with brighter colors and a more modern design. The gas station would incorporate the same design as the store.

“We’re trying to meet in the middle,” Bosch said.

He said he drove through the city and noted its residential character and that stores here featured earth-tone colors. After which, designers went back to the drawing board and came up with new drawings, including a request from city officials for a more “Spanish” design and look for the store.

“We want to be a good neighbor in the community,” Bosch said.

Zucker said that board members and staff would look at the drawings and share their thoughts by late April, so Walmart officials could present a recommendation to their leadership. A decision from Walmart officials on a design could be available by May 4.

Meanwhile, Dardenne Prairie and nearby O’Fallon are looking closely at the impact of development on local traffic patterns. City officials received an updated traffic impact study from CBB, a traffic engineering firm, which looked at traffic impacts of the development at entrances and at the intersection of Bryan and Feise roads.

Shawn White, a senior traffic engineer with CBB, told the board that the study suggests adding right-turn lanes on Bryan and Feise, along with a new traffic signal at a main entrance to the site off Bryan Road. The study also suggests that the proposed developments would have a minimal impact at the intersection, and that traffic signals there could be adjusted to improve traffic flow during peak periods.

Zucker said that widening Feise Road, west of Bryan Road, would take property on the north edge of Feise from the Bopp tract as would any widening of Bryan Road north of Feise.

The partnership also requires input from O’Fallon officials on traffic issues. O’Fallon’s boundary is along Bryan Road and the city would have a say on access questions off the road to the new development. Zucker said the city would make sure its requirements are satisfied.

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