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University City using $190 million in TIF funds for redevelopment

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. - University City leadership says it wants to improve the neighborhoods and businesses in its 3rd Ward near Olive and Interstate 170.

Some of the area is older, unoccupied, and rundown; but not the businesses closest to the highway. They’re doing well.

“They’re using eminent domain to low-ball all businesses, giving low prices,” said Ed Beyers, owner of Beyers Lumber and Hardware.

Beyers said his employees are scared about keeping their jobs.

“Some working 45 years and some 35 years. They are being threatened to be kicked off,” he said.

Beyers isn’t alone. Bavarian BMW doesn’t want to sell and neither does Bob's Seafood. They said the offers to buy their businesses have been very low.

“We've generated well over a million dollars in taxes for the city for the area,” said Bob Mepham, owner of Bob’s Seafood. “I feel like we should get more consideration than that.”

University City manager Gregory Rose said the city’s $190 million TIF plan to redevelop the area has been supported by the majority. Costco will be the unofficial anchor store for the redevelopment. Approximately $10 million will be used in 3rd Ward reinvestment.

“These homeowners support…the majority of them support this. The developer is offering them two times the value of their home,” Rose said.

Rose said statistics indicate home values in the area have not increased since the recession and something needs to be done.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to execute some changes here that will benefit the community and businesses,” he said.

But maybe not for businesses like Beyers.