Jul 28, 2014
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Who's Grewe? Walmart Developer Has Complex Retail TIF Past

The developer isn't new to the St. Louis region, or to public assistance for his projects.

Who's Grewe? Walmart Developer Has Complex Retail TIF Past Who's Grewe? Walmart Developer Has Complex Retail TIF Past

G. J. Grewe Inc. is looking for public assistance to redevelop Kenrick Plaza in Shrewsbury. This help could come in the form of a tax increment financing, or a TIF.

Under this kind of assistance, a city issues bonds to help raise money for a private developer's project. Property taxes are frozen at the TIF location, but usually the land's value rises with new buildings and development. If no TIF existed the developer would pay higher property taxes. Instead that money helps pay back the city for the bonds.

According to a study by Washington University, this process isn't without controversy, and many argue it should be reformed.

The Shrewsbury proposal isn't the first time Grewe Inc. has sought public financing, and Patch wants to help you learn more about Grewe's development past.

What follows are some projects that stand out, but Grewe Inc. has also developed millions of square feet of retail space in more than a dozen other shopping centers, according to its website.

Find out more about Grewe's company and his family's non-profit organization in another Patch article.

Gravois Bluffs

One of the earliest projects Patch could find was the Gravois Bluffs development in Fenton during the late 90s.

That project used $37 million in tax increment financing, according to a 1999 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. The Riverfront Times also did a pair of stories related to the project:

  • Easy Money — About how developers like Grewe were using legislation designed for blighted inner cities to increase profits building suburban retail projects.
  • Grave Losses — About the Native American burial mound destroyed in Grewe's construction of the Walmart Supercenter at Gravois Bluffs.

Columbia Crossing

A few years later, in 2004, Grewe signed an agreement with Columbia, IL to get exclusive rights to develop Columbia Crossing.

The development was planned to be around 1,800 acres with a mix of businesses. The project would have used around $200 million in public assistance, or about a third of the project's cost, according to information the Post-Dispatch gathered from Columbia's city website.

Columbia Crossing never happened though. The project proved controversial, however, and citizens opposed to the project organized to elect anti-crossing aldermen. A timeline of the struggle was put together by the Post-Dispatch.

Three alderman candidates opposed to the project won election in 2007, and the project began to stall.

Grewe then sued the city for violating the original 2004 agreement. This suit was overturned, according to another Post-Dispatch report, but an appeal was filed in 2008.

An online search of federal court records by Patch showed the court put the appeal on hold in 2008, and no action on the appeal has happened since.

Watson Plaza

G.J. Grewe Inc. received roughly $2 million in TIF money to redevelop Watson Plaza in Crestwood, according to an August 2004 Post-Dispatch article.

City planners, at the time, said the entire project was worth $11.2 million, with the public assistance included.

The city originally was resistant to the TIF assistance, according to a South County Times article.

Related Patch Coverage:

Plans and other documents can be found on the city's website.

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