The Maryland Heights Planning Commission meeting likely will include a vote on the controversial Maryland Pointe development’s conceptual development plan Tuesday night at the Maryland Heights Government Center.
During its Oct. 11 meeting, the commission asked staff members to draft a resolution that includes several conditions for the preliminary development plan, the next step in the process.
The Maryland Pointe developers submitted a conceptual development plan for a mixed used development on 191 acres in the Howard Bend area. The site is just northwest of Creve Coeur Park, along Maryland Heights Expressway
north of River Valley Drive.
A citizens’ group, the Maryland Heights Residents for Responsible Growth, has opposed the Maryland Heights proposal.
The resolution drafted by staff includes several conditions, including the following items:
- Provide a market study or economic development analysis for the Economic Development Commission’s review along with requests for special taxing district such as a Transportation Development District (TDD) or Community Improvement District. "If a special taxing district isn't requested, then a market study isn't required," said Community Development Director Wayne Oldroyd.
- Include design approaches for motor vehicle-oriented businesses, such as those with drive-up windows, to reduce conflict between cars and people, while providing for pedestrians and open public space.
- Include measures that would enable large-scale buildings to be able to rented out easily or adapt to the market should they become vacant.
The full resolution from the staff is available under the photo section of this article.
At a Sept. 28 meeting, Commissioner Mark Madden told Maryland Pointe representative that he believes now is the time for a market analysis. That's not the same marketing study requested in the
Oldroyd said that marketing study might have been needed had the Maryland Pointe development team not changed their development plan. Now, however, the plan doesn't go against the grain of the city's Comprehensive Plan.
"They amended the plan and brought it more into context with the Comprehensive Plan," Oldroyd said. "From a staff perspective, we've changed our position."
They also reduced the intensity of the development, eliminating about 50 acres because wetlands are present. He said it might have been good for the developer to have a marketing study, but the city typically doesn't require them because they don't
Oldroyd said he understood why some commission members and Residents for Responsible Growth members want a marketing study done. He said it might be good for the developer to "turn that card face up."
"But they're asking for guarantees in a world that doesn't give guarantees," Oldroyd said. "We could have asked for a marketing study in 2006, and a year later the market would have turned that study upside down."
While Maryland Heights Residents for Responsible Growth members don’t oppose the conditions put on the Conceptual Development Plan, organizer Melissa Moulton said she doubts the conditions will make Maryland Pointe an acceptable proposal.
“In general, we are in agreement with the conditions in the staff report, but they’re not specific enough in some instances,” Moulton said. “There’s a lot of wiggle room for the developer to say, ‘We cannot meet that condition’ and then not do it.”
Moulton said the conditions focus on supporting pedestrian use, but Responsible Growth group members would like to see conditions that protect natural habitat and wildlife, minimizing the development’s impact on Creve Coeur Park and the surrounding area.
Moulton said she’s concerned about the effect the Maryland Pointe development could have on other business districts in the city.
“This project could be an albatross around our neck,” she said. “It includes office space, and there’s a huge glut of office space in Maryland Heights and surrounding communities. There’s no need for that type of building.”
Moulton also said development in Howard Bend could take the city’s focus off needed redevelopment or marketing efforts for current business districts, such as Westport Plaza and the Dorsett Road corridor.
“Denying this proposal is an option for the Planning Commission,” Moulton said. “It should stop here at the conceptual development planning stage.”