The city of O’Fallon is continuing to grow up despite limited retail, office and industrial space. Currently, of the city’s approximately 4.7 million square feet of retail space – spread across 318 buildings – only 4.3 percent, about 200,000 square feet, is vacant.
At the end of the third quarter of 2018, commercial real estate research firm CoStar reported an estimated 95.5 percent of retail space as currently occupied within the city limits, an estimated 91.5 percent of office spaces occupied, and about 97.7 percent of industrial/flex spaces occupied. Manufacturers and industrial users occupy almost 6.9 million square feet of industrial/flex space within the city limits. Meanwhile, office users occupy more than 2.2 million square feet of space.
Economic Development Director Patrick McKeehan said the city’s business growth has escalated for multiple reasons, including the city’s steady population growth and its proximity to high-traffic areas, such as the Hwy. K corridor.
Known as the largest city in St. Charles County, O’Fallon estimates its population will be over 100,000 by the year 2025.
According to a U.S. Census report, the city’s population in 2016 [the most recent year for which there is data] was 86,274. The city’s largest population surge occurred in the two decades between 1990 and 2010 when it grew from 18,443 residents to 79,885. Since 2010, its growth has slowed but remains steady.
Also remaining steady is Hwy. K commercial, which draws not just O’Fallon residents but those from surrounding communities.
“Hwy. K, which is our primary retail and commercial corridor, has been a major draw for 20 years,” McKeehan said. “That particular north-south corridor, running from I-64/Hwy. 40 on the south side and all the way up to I-70 on the north side, is the center of the population for the 87,597 individuals who live within O’Fallon. When you get more southern, you get Dardenne Prairie, you get St. Peters on both sides. You have Weldon Spring. It’s a prime corridor, basically from I-70 all the way to I-64, and provides a high-traffic area for retailers.”
In October 2018, O’Fallon saw nine groundbreakings for new businesses within the city limits, including:
• The Maids of St. Charles County located at 88185 Veterans Memorial Pkwy. as of Oct. 1
• Attentive Adult Day Center located at 822 W. Terra Lane as of Oct. 3
• Regions Bank located at 3005 Hwy. K as of Oct. 10
• Best Care Dental and Vision located at 214 Church St. as of Oct. 10
• St. Louis Pizza & Wings located at 1266 Bryan Road as of Oct. 17
• The Landing of O’Fallon located at 1000 Landing Circle as of Oct. 18
• McDonald’s K&N grand re-opening, located at 2915 Hwy. K as of Oct. 24
• My Kids’ Dentist & Orthodontics located at 3009 Hwy. K as of Oct. 25
• Lou Fusz Jeep located at 3470 Hwy. K as of Oct. 29
Keep it coming
The city, McKeehan said, works with multiple entities to attract new business to the area. Among those are the Missouri Partnership, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the EDC Business & Community Partners of Greater St. Charles. The city also utilizes multiple business retention programs to help new businesses integrate into the market.
One of the programs, Open in the “O” is a citywide pre-development program that helps interested business owners find and review potential business locations before signing a contract. About three to four site walkthroughs with the business owners are done every month.
McKeehan said the program helps new businesses open sooner.
“We speed up the process … they know, right up front, what they need to do,” McKeehan said. “When they walk through the actual process of seeking the permits for demolition or construction or whatever, they understand what is required and what the application process is … I think it’s a great program, and we’ve had real success with it.”
That success is borne out by the city’s most recent economic development report, which highlights multiple commercial and residential developments that currently are being reviewed by city departments. Included are:
• Blue Iguana Car Wash located at 1008 Hwy. K, new construction, final inspection pending
• Bryan Road Animal Hospital, 5,327 square feet located at 1290 Bryan Road, multiple permits in-progress
• Discount Tire, 8,192 square feet located at 101 Fallon Loop Road, construction plan under review
• Little Sunshine Playhouse and Preschool, 9,700 square feet located at 4220 Hwy. K, under construction
• MJSM, LLC located at 1400 Grant Industrial Drive, under construction
• Tru by Hilton, 56,750 square feet located at Technology and Crusher drives, project currently on hold
• Tyke Town, 5,860 square feet located at 8368 Mexico Road, multiple permits currently in progress
• Outlot construction for a new retail center, 6,155 square feet located at 2181 W. Terra Lane, currently under review
Keep it thriving
Additionally, McKeehan said multiple businesses within the city limits are expanding or renovating existing spaces. Examples include a renovation and parking lot addition to the Knights of Columbus location at 202 W. Third St. and an estimated 27,958-square-foot expansion of the Lou Fusz Jeep location at 3470 Hwy. K.
In November 2018, multiple business licenses were approved, a trend McKeehan expects to continue in December and into 2019. Licenses issued in November include:
• Bottcher America Corp. located at 1464 Hoff Industrial Drive
• Auto Turquoise LLC located at 108 St. Joseph Ave.
• Luxe Lash By Bri, LLC located at East Elm St., Ste. 7
• Boys & Girls Club of St. Charles County located at 1 Club Way Drive
• Lane 1 Motors, LLC located at 9296 Veterans Memorial Pkwy.
• Applied Behavior Services, LLC located at 8425 Mexico Road
• Supercuts located at 1306 Hwy. K
• Greenbrook TMS St. Louis located at 4132 Keaton Crossing Blvd., Ste. 204
• RPMC Lasers Inc. located at 8495 Veterans Memorial Pkwy.
• Harley Unlimited located at 411 Glen Drive
• ORF Home Inspections, LLC located at 326 Fort Zumwalt Square
The city’s restaurant business also is thriving. Recent culinary editions include McAlister’s Deli off Veterans Memorial Pkwy.; Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Wicked Greenz, both on Hwy. K; and a second Lion’s Choice location at 4520 Hwy. K that pairs with the chain’s first location at 8710 Veterans Memorial Pkwy.
“We’ve seen a number of our older, quick-service restaurants looking at reinvestments because the competition has really heightened in the past couple years,” McKeehan said. “We’re seeing that they need to make some reinvestments in order to retain and keep up with new customers.
“As soon as one quick-service or any other type of restaurant closes, it seems we immediately have a lot of interest in filling that space,” McKeehan said. “We get a lot of [business] inquiries that say, ‘Please let us know if something becomes available.’ There are a lot of eyes on our Hwy. K corridor in terms of development with commercial and retail.”
But, while interest in Hwy. K is high, business growth is not limited to just one corridor.
At press time, the Alpha & Omega Café, located at 111 North Main St., was awaiting final inspection for its renovation. The business is located in O’Fallon’s downtown area where, McKeehan said, the city is starting to see more interest.
“We’re starting to see a little more activity there and a little more interest in some of the vacant land in the area,” he noted.
Keep it local
Through the holidays, the city wants to see plenty of shoppers and diners keeping it local – and it’s taking action with its Keep it in the “O” program.
McKeehan explained that the program consists of the city’s in-house camera crews visiting new businesses and professionally shooting commercials for them, free of charge. Those commercials are aired for free on local television and via the city’s YouTube channel.
“We also provide the video [to the business owner] so they can use it on social media,” McKeehan said. “We help promote the business by saying, ‘Here’s another new business that has opened up’ and help them promote that across the community.
According to McKeehan, the citywide program helps attract customers from across St. Charles County to the city’s growing commercial landscape of more than 1,800 businesses and 375 restaurants.
“We have a long, proven track-record of developments in our community,” McKeehan said. “The tremendous growth that has happened in the city of O’Fallon over the past 20 years … I think, by all projections, that growth will continue.”