Novus Properties’ proposed development along Olive in University City is now drawing attention in neighboring Olivette as that city considers a proposal from another developer for a project along Olive.
The projects have two things in common: Both developers are requesting tax increment financing (TIF) and both would border Interstate 170, within walking distance of one another.
The Olivette TIF Commission on Jan. 3 voted unanimously to recommend to the city council an amendment to a TIF redevelopment plan that had been requested by Keat Properties.
Greg Yawitz, the owner of Keat Properties, is proposing to redevelop a piece of property on the south side of Olive, west of I-170. The Novus University City project would begin on the east side of I-170.
About a dozen residents spoke on the project, both for and against it, at the meeting. During the discussion, the University City project was mentioned several times, with some people asking what impact the combined projects would have on both cities.
Proponents spoke on the need to revitalize an under-used area. University City Councilmen Bwayne Smotherson and Tim Cusick were at the meeting, but did not speak. Contacted after the meeting, both declined comment.
One of the final speakers during the meeting was Olivette City Manager Barbara Sondag, who recommended that the commission vote to recommend the amendment to the city council.
“This does not put University City against Olivette – it can create synergy,” Sondag said. “If there are small businesses that have to leave U. City (because of the Novus project), we can take them, not because we want to, but because it is good for the region. They (U. City) don’t have a redevelopment agreement yet.”
University City officials have said that relocation assistance will be available for business owners, but they are not looking for businesses to leave University City.
The Keat Properties project was originally proposed as a one-story project with more than 90 percent retail with surface parking. The revised plan, which necessitated the amendment, includes some retail such as a grocery store. It also adds office space, a parking garage and a hotel with 120-145 rooms. The project, described as roughly “boomerang shaped,” extends south along I-170 then goes west along Olive to Price Road.
The Novus project in University City is set to include a hotel, apartments, office space and retail. It has been speculated that the retail component will include a Costco. The project will go from I-170, east to Woodson/McKnight.
The Novus project would cover roughly 50 acres, while the Keat project covers roughly 12.5 acres. The Olivette project must still go before the city council and the city’s plan commission, which is scheduled to hear the project on Jan. 17.
The University City TIF Commission gave its recommendation for the Novus project in August 2018. The project must still go before the city council.