Last Call for Public Comments on Big University City TIF

Michael Calhoun
June 22, 2018 - 2:35 am

KMOX/Michael Calhoun

UNIVERSITY CITY (KMOX) -- Friday night is the third and final public hearing on proposed tax increment financing for a shopping center in University City.

Novus Development wants to demolish what's currently at Olive and 170 and replace it with a shopping center, anchored likely by Costco, and also including a hotel.

The meeting could include a vote to approve $70 million in incentives for the project.

Not all of the businesses currently there want to sell, including Beyers Lumber and Hardware. They could face eminent domain.

Friday's meeting was moved to the high school to better accommodate crowds seen at the last two.

Other concerns include the displacement of an historically-African American community, although the city is offering relocation assistance. Officials also promise eminent domain is off-the-table for homeowners.

Still, TIF itself can be controversial in this area.

This one is unique; some of its proceeds would fund grants to homeowners in the city's economically-depressed third ward.

U. City Mayor Terry Crow defends its use.

"There is a purpose to this TIF," Crow said at the last meeting. "It is not just to attract new business. It is to rebuild our community."

KMOX/Michael Calhoun

Some of the ethnic businesses in the area, considered the region's 'Chinatown', are concerned about getting squeezed out.

The developer, however, promises to include a 'food hall' in his plans. City officials hope the restaurants and other storefronts up and down Olive are also bolstered.

Friday's meeting starts at 6 p.m. at University City High School on Balson Avenue.