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The footprint of the current proposal is gigantic. Eight 7-story buildings containing office and retail space and 600-750 apartments. There is a ninth development area on Kirkham Ave (marked "Future") will contain 8 town houses with 24 units.. A conservative calculation puts the population of the one city block area at least 2000 people (250 people/building or 36 people/floor) plus the people in the townhouses which is about approximately 7.5%-10% the current population of Webster Groves. Dining and shopping in the area will drive the effective population even higher.
As a matter of fact, The developer has been secretive about many of the important details regarding this project. They are revealing some of the details to the business owners who they intend to buy out. The developer is implying the use of eminent domain to transfer the assets of small business and property owners to his corporate development collaboration. They are purposely vague about many of the detrimental hard facts concerning the development to sneak in under the radar during the COVID-19 crisis.
The placement of this ultra-dense development directly in the middle of Old Webster will create numerous problems both for residents in the immediate vicinity and those in surrounding areas. This is a population density up to 100X/sq foot compared to the adjacent neighborhoods. These buildings are right next to Shady Creek and tower over Kirkham Ave. The buildings on the hill are effectively nine-story buildings relative to Kirkham Ave. and are not significantly sheltered by trees or vegetation since they will be destroyed in the project construction.
Housing, offices, dining and shopping for up to 3000 people translate to ~2000 additional cars. This calculation does not take into consideration the influx of people that will occur due to any special events that will be held in this area. This means that probable street widening of Kirkham between Elm and Gore and widening of parts of Gore Ave. and Rock Hill Rd will need to transpire to accommodate increased visitor flow. It also means increased traffic congestion on Kirkham Ave/Brentwood Blvd., Gore Ave., Rock Hill Rd., Elm Ave. and Lockwood Ave. as people commute to and from their homes and work. There will also be increased traffic on adjoining side streets as people try to skirt the bottlenecks to find time saving shortcuts. Therefore, Oak St., Marshall Pl. and Dornell Dr. will see a significantly increased frequency of cars and noise. The quality of life of all of the adjoining neighborhoods will be decreased, as noise pollution and automobile pollution will inundate these areas. People not willing to endure the traffic funneled into the massive complex will park on adjacent and surrounding streets and will walk to the complex.
Make no mistake about it! It's all about the money!
The project is projected to cost $250 MILLION DOLLARS, therefore the developer stands to receive between $25-30 MILLION DOLLARS. Developers will do anything, say anything, "promise" anything to get their fee. Therefore, they will confuse the truth, hide the truth and distort the truth.
They need for the the project to be big. They are promising anything and everything to a number of special interest groups and cannot possibly deliver on most of these promises. Jobs? What jobs? They have not told us the specifics behind what jobs this development would bring to the community. How many jobs would the development create? 50? 200? Will these jobs go to Webster residents? Most probably will not. Offices and Retail? There is a glut of unused office and retail space right now. Why come to Webster? Why not go downtown where it is cheap? The enormous AT&T building still sits vacant. Look at all businesses "going out of business" and all the office and retail space opening up.
A T-Rex-like center? What a joke! Why come to Webster when you can go to the Cortex Innovation Community near Wash U where there is a "vibrant, 200-acre hub of business, innovation, and technology" and you can have synergistic interactions with a large number of bright people with complementary technologies and ideas.
The city of Webster Groves might say that they need the revenue. The city has been mismanaged for over 20 years. If the city needs revenue, can't they do it in a series of smaller steps instead of one large sweep that is destructive to the surrounding community?
It is absolutely shameful that the presentation of a project of this magnitude is being conducted under the veil of the COVID-19 crisis. Most people are primarily concerned with their jobs and the health of their family and themselves. People are very concerned and many are in trouble!
We have spoken to a number of people in the surrounding areas and most do not know anything about the project. They have heard that something is going on in the area but do not know much else. The only notice that they have received was a door hanger 3 days before the meeting in July. These meetings are virtual via Zoom. A few of these people had no internet service. How are they supposed to participate? Look up the latest US Census statistics for Webster Groves. More than 10% of the people in Webster do not have high speed internet which is required for video meetings (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/webstergrovescitymissouri). We would bet that the percentage is higher in Northwest Webster (the immediately impacted region). They are preying on the economically disadvantaged in the area to silence criticism.
In addition, usually this type of proposal would be debated in an open forum. You would be able to hear what your neighbors think about the proposal in a public meeting. You would be able to ask your question in public nor matter how uncomfortable the question was for the developer. You would be able to ask follow-up questions if the developer chose not to directly answer you question. This is NOT how it is being handled!
The developer controls everything! They control the Zoom call. They answer the questions which they want to answer. They can avoid to answer a question directly. There are NO follow-up questions. There is NO debate. They control the entire message. And if this is not enough. The city council asks them to provide feedback on their presentation. There is always ONLY ONE SIDE to the story. They have used the COVID crisis to their full advantage.