The City Council of University City on April 8 continued debate on the Novus Development project proposed for Olive Boulevard, east of Interstate 170.
The project is tentatively set to include a hotel, apartments, office space and retail. The retail is to include a “big box” store speculated to be Costco.
The development proposal has been a frequent and often contentious subject for many residents, with some claiming that the city council had not listened to the community and that sufficient information had not been made available on the project.
Opponents claim the project will raise area property taxes and that people will be forced to move from their homes — affecting low income and minority households. Some have asked for a community benefits agreement (CBA) to be included in the plan. Others call for the proposal to be halted until a public vote can be taken.
Proponents say the project will bring new life to the city’s Ward 3, and that there has been ample opportunity for residents to collect information on the project.
During recent meetings, criticisms have turned personal, with instances of residents calling others out by name and questioning their motivations.
“These decisions have to be made by someone and the decision will be made by the seven people on this governing body that you elected to make decisions. Are your efforts helping us to make that decision?” asked Mayor Terry Crow at the April 8 meeting.
“We have been told we are moving too fast, and that we are moving too slow, that we are not listening enough, that we are taking in too many opinions,” Crow continued. “A decision will likely come in the near term, and it’s not just about the Third Ward or Olive, it’s about our community, the entire community of University City.”
In August 2018, $70.5 million in tax increment financing was approved for the project, which has an estimated total cost of $190 million. As proposed, the development will take in about 50 acres along both sides of Olive, beginning at I-170 and extending east to McKnight/Woodson.