At the Dardenne Prairie Business Roundtable on March 6, Mayor David Zucker unveiled his and the Board of Aldermen’s City Comprehensive Plan and Vision for 2019 and beyond.
Per the plan, the city will refocus on growing business in the Town Square area and in the Technology Drive corridor roughly between Post Road and Route 364. The top priority is to create direct access to those areas by adding new I-64 and Route 364 exit and entrance ramps, while preserving Technology Drive as a two-way street. The second priority is to create a better “brand” and easier identification of what is in Dardenne Prairie along Route N. The third priority is to better publicize the businesses in the city to residents.
City Comprehensive Plan Refocused
The Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) launched a thorough review of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, last updated in 2008 under the previous administration. All underlying assumptions were reassessed, taking into account changes and developments observed in St. Charles County and the greater St. Louis metro area. The first major item reviewed was the Uptown Zoning District. The District was created with the vision of mixed-use development similar to New Town and Streets of St. Charles. However, the only actual new development in the Uptown Zoning District since then were the St. William Senior Apartments and the City Hall.
The Board of Aldermen concluded that the “new urban development” concept is not well suited for Dardenne Prairie. P&Z has begun the process of rezoning the previous Uptown Zoning District to either commercial or residential, with existing structures grandfathered.
P&Z now will focus attention on the Town Square area and on the Technology Drive corridor between Post Road and Route 364. Those two areas are most suitable in Dardenne Prairie for new and expanded retail and service businesses, which in turn generate new jobs and tax revenue.
Other development trends such as senior villas and mixed-use retail and residential communities will be studied for longer-term consideration.
Easier Access to Dardenne Prairie
Mayor Zucker explained how difficult it is to get into the City from I-64 and from Route 364. No direct exits exist from those roads for motorists to enter the main business areas of Dardenne Prairie. Essentially, drivers must exit in O’Fallon or Lake St. Louis, then work their way along outer roads to get to Dardenne Prairie.
Dardenne Prairie and O’Fallon cooperated to fund an engineering concept study for new exit and entrance ramps for I-64. The ones for Dardenne Prairie would be roughly half way between Winghaven Boulevard and Route 364, connecting those new ramps to Technology Drive via a new roundabout. A roundabout would retain Technology Drive as a two-way street (very important), and would provide easy access to new businesses to be developed along the Technology Drive corridor (I-64 north outer road) within Dardenne Prairie. The study is nearing completion. Then it will be used as a base for a more detailed engineering study, required to support applications for federal, state, and county funds to build the ramps and roundabout.
Using funds from the St. Charles County Road Board, the City is hiring an engineering firm to study the concept of building an interchange on Route 364 near Technology Drive. The intent is to provide drivers with easy access to and from 364 eastbound and westbound to the Town Square Shopping Center area, and to businesses along Technology Drive.
Along with the I-64 outer road project, this Route 364 interchange ranks as Dardenne Prairie’s highest priority.
Publicizing Businesses in Dardenne Prairie
Mayor Zucker asked everyone if they knew where 7805 Highway N is located. No one knew. He said it is the Marcus Theater in Town Square Shopping Center, one of the major attractions in the City. The Mayor said it is difficult to know where any business’s address really is on Highway N, because it runs across all of St. Charles County. He said that Doug Potts, the City’s Economic Development Coordinator, suggested “re-branding” the stretch of Highway N that crosses through Dardenne Prairie. One example is “Town Square Boulevard,” which is easily identifiable as in Dardenne Prairie and within a certain area. Mayor Zucker said the City will work with businesses and residents who currently have a Highway N address to find the most effective new name for the road.
Spreading Information about Businesses
Mayor Zucker and Doug Potts described a plan for when new residents ask to have Health and Occupancy inspections completed for new occupancy. In addition to receiving the Occupancy Permit, they now will receive brochures and other materials listing and describing Dardenne Prairie businesses. To provide a sense of scale, Potts said that in 2018 the City had 247 such inspections, and that number has been steady for the past three years. With the new subdivisions on the way, that number likely will increase going forward. The result of this initiative will be many more residents knowing about more businesses each year.
Business Roundtable participants included: Cari Carr from People’s Savings Bank, Alicia Alves from J.C. Penney, Kent Oman from Tick Tock Shop, Tom Shaw from Tom Shaw Realty, Gary Schneider from Grace Hauling, Benedicte Honguel from Apex Network Physical Therapy, Ray Schroeder from Keldon Imaging, Dr. Hammerline from Ignite Health, Joni Marren from Midas Hospitality, and Christine Martin from Vital Performance Chiropractic. All were enthusiastic and supportive of these refocused initiatives.