Jul 26, 2014
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News Nearby: Olivette City Leaders Reject Developer Criticism

Olivette Mayor Arthur Merdinian and City Manager Mike McDowell say the city is taking steps to work with developers and update ordinances.

News Nearby: Olivette City Leaders Reject Developer Criticism

Olivette city officials are brushing off criticism brought on by a pair of developers who told Patch Olivette was "anti-progress" and "stuck in a time warp."

Last week, Steve Noles and Bob Elkan vented their frustration over what they contend has been years of effort to develop the corner of Olive Boulevard and Interstate 170.

Read: Developer Slams City; Calls Olivette 'Anti-Progress'

As Patch previously reported, city officials said the pair have never submitted a formal proposal for the property. In a sit-down interview Monday, Mayor Arthur Merdinian, City Manager Mike McDowell and Carlos Trejo, the city's planning and zoning administrator repeated that contention.

The trio also said the city made clear as long as three years ago that any proposal for the land in question needed to incorporate a vision for the entire 14-acre property from I-170 to Price Road, and that the developers in question have not met that standard.

Merdinian admitted that the city has been "protective" of that area, calling it the largest piece of vacant land left in Olivette. He also allowed that there was a time in the city's history when it may have been"anti-development," but that there have been continuing efforts to evaluate zoning regulations.

McDowell said those efforts have revolved around two questions: the public's interest, and whether or not the regulations have an "unreasonable deterrent effect" on redevelopment.

In October, the city passed a new zoning code known as the MU Gateway Ordinance, which city leaders said included input from Noles and Elkan at various points, that is designed to increase mixed-use development in Olivette. The city officials said the new ordinance is less restrictive than previous codes for the Olive/I-170 site.

"We’re not willing to give away the farm just to have somebody do something in Olivette," he said. "We don’t want to do things to scare people off, we want people to know that yeah, we’re open for business and we want to hear your ideas."

He pointed to the new CVS, the coming Shane Co., a new Subway restaurant, Arena Liquor and the tenants filling the Shoppes at Price Crossing as evidence that people want to do business in the city.

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