Richmond Heights City Hall gives preliminary approval to build Menards

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) - Residents of a small St. Louis County community have wondered for years whether their homes will be bought, knocked down, and redeveloped.

Now, it seems Hadley Township residents finally have an answer.

This Richmond Heights community was built more than a century ago to house brick company workers.  Some families have stuck around for generations, but many homes have since been boarded up and knocked down.  It’s why a lot of residents and city officials are relieved that a new development is nearly a done deal.

On Tuesday night, the Richmond Heights City Council gave a preliminary approval to Menards to build a new store in Hadley Township. It’ll sit east of Hanley, just south of Highway 40.

Longtime resident Kem Johnson says it’s about time.  “It’s bad. It really is. They need to hurry up and get this done. Because they’re making everybody move out, by promises that they’d buy the houses a long time ago and never did,” he explains.

Richmond Heights City Councilman Mike Jones says, “We’ve had about five different developments go into that area there, and none of them have followed through.”

Jones has a hunch these projects failed because the city refused to use eminent domain to take property from unwilling homeowners.

This time, the development’s boundaries avoid many of the properties with reluctant residents.

“They have contacted all the residents, and have signed letters of intent with the residents,” says Jones.

With the tentative approval, longtime resident Gwendolyn Smith will start house hunting, but with a heavy heart.

She says, “It’s kind of heartbreaking when you’ve been somewhere, and when you get older, you get a little settled.”

If all goes according to plan, the Menards will open in 2015, bringing jobs and sales tax revenue to Richmond Heights. It’s progress, albeit bittersweet.

“It’s the end of an era,” says Smith.

Residents say they don’t know when they’ll have to move out.  This, and other details, will become clearer after the development’s final approval, which is expected to come at Richmond Heights’ next city council meeting.

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