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University City TIF Commission meets on big-box development

"Don't tear down our community to bring in others - you won't have any middle class left," said Damon Page as he comments on presentations given to members of the University City TIF Commission regarding a big-box development on Olive at I-170 on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Bill McClellan’s May 26 column (“Lifting the veil on Paul McKee’s ‘transformational’ plans”) about how Paul McKee’s north St. Louis developments turned into a fiasco could also apply to University City’s proposed $200 million development around Olive Boulevard and Interstate 170. It is a fiasco in waiting.

The development, which would cover 50 acres, would cause nearly 70 homes to be torn down in a largely African-American area. Many small but thriving businesses on Olive, mostly owned by minorities, would have to relocate. No doubt, a certain number would never reopen.

Hardly anyone has anything good to say about the development. Among comments posted on news articles: “It is unimaginative with a sea of parking facing Olive and McKnight.” “It would completely destroy the character of the neighborhood.” “It is categorically stupid.”

The developer wants $70 million in tax increment financing, and the University City TIF Commission is expected to give it to him. Many residents believe the project was decided some time back in a manner that avoided public input.

Values that have long been cherished in University City — citizen participation, diversity, inclusion and concern for all — are being trampled on by city officials. They are blinded by dollar signs.

The Olive-170 development is a bad deal for residents and small businesses that will get kicked out of their homes and buildings. It is also a bad deal for University City. You don’t build up a city by tearing it down.

Tom Sullivan • University City