Lake Saint Louis officials have approved plans that they hope will revitalize The Meadows shopping center by moving it toward a mixed-use development akin to the Streets of St. Charles.
The city’s Board of Aldermen voted 5-0, with Alderman Karen Vennard [Ward 2] absent, on March 19 to approve the rezoning of about eight acres from highway commercial district to a planned development district. The board also agreed to accept a preliminary development plan and site plan review, and to grant a special use permit that will allow 11 two- and three-story buildings with 220 multi-family dwelling units to be constructed in The Meadows shopping center area.
The Meadows is located along Interstate 64 near Lake Saint Louis Boulevard.
The development is to be known now as PURE at the Meadows. City officials said they were informed on March 20 that the name was changing from Thrive Lake St. Louis but the number of apartments and other details were staying the same.
“I’m just elated with this,” Mayor Kathy Schweikert said after the vote.
The development of the Meadows into a mixed-use development that includes living space, restaurants and entertainment echoes discussion in the city’s recently approved comprehensive plan about developing a “city center.”
“Everyone used to say that the [main] lake was the main driver here, the main focus, the gathering spot,” Schweikert said. “But surprisingly now it is The Meadows, we didn’t have something like this before.
“We’re getting the point that 50 percent of our community does not live in the Lake Saint Louis Community Association [boundaries] so we need a gathering place like that,” she said.
The Lake Saint Louis Community Association manages private amenities in the community including its two main lakes. Association members pay annual dues to support and use those amenities; however, the association’s boundaries encompass much of the old part of the community and those living outside its boundaries cannot use its amenities
At a public hearing before the vote, several residents questioned whether there was adequate parking at The Meadows that could accommodate apartment dwellers, restaurant goers and businesses.
Don Peters, a resident who lives nearby, said his calculations suggest that more vehicle parking may be required for one- to three-bedroom apartments. “I’m okay with the building, I’m okay with the development, I’m not against it,” Peters told aldermen at the public hearing. “[But] if you look at my numbers they are short 67 parking spaces.”
Peters said he agreed that this kind of development has to have restaurants and other forms of entertainment to attract millennials who tend to shop online and have items delivered. If the development lacks these features, The Meadows may fail, he said.
But Schweikert and the aldermen were not concerned about parking spaces. “If they are having problems finding parking spots at the Streets of St. Charles, that’s exactly what I want to see at The Meadows,” said Alderman Gary Turner [Ward 1]. “That means people are coming here, people are spending money and people are having a good time.”
Turner, a former St. Peters mayor, was in office when Mid Rivers Mall was being developed in that city. “I don’t want to see a sea of asphalt,” he said. “One of my regrets is there may have been too much parking [at Mid Rivers Mall].”
Alderman Michael Potter [Ward 2] said that “parking is a self-correcting problem” that will be corrected if more parking is needed.
City Administrator Paul Markworth noted that any additional sales tax is nice. He added that a lot of shopping centers are repositioning themselves to be mixed-use facilities perhaps even having a hotel. These uses along with the proposed development of a children’s museum at The Meadows, proposed by United Services for the Handicapped last year, are “designed to create energy and a place where people want to go and visit and that’s the goal here,” Markworth said.
According to Markworth, work on the restaurants and apartments is expected to begin this year.
In responding to concerns, he questioned whether parking would overflow into the nearby Ballantrae and Waterford Villas subdivisions. “It’s a long walk to the shopping center,” he said, doubting that there would be an overflow problem. “I’ve always said, and I’ve told the board this, if there is a parking problem it a good problem to have,” Markworth said. “You can fix that.”
Meanwhile, the board also approved an ordinance giving aldermen total discretion over the number of parking spaces allowed per development. That decision may encourage at least some lease contacts for restaurants to be signed, city officials said.