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Residents and businesses worry about displacement with development of multi-million-dollar shopping center

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO - More questions than answers Monday tonight months after University City officials proposed plans to redevelop Olive Boulevard near I-170.

It wasn’t a packed council chamber inside city hall during the city’s TIF Commission meeting as it was only an introduction of bills pertaining to the project.

But some residents who spoke said that while they are not totally against the new development they don’t agree with how the city is handling the plans to go about it.

Mandy Ercoli of All-Star tattoo said she and her business partners are one of the few merchants who can afford to pack up and go somewhere else.

Their upcoming move which Ercoli said isn’t by choice, comes after city officials announced their plans to approve a $190 million-dollar shopping center surrounded by offices, luxury apartments, and a hotel.

“Ideally something like that would bring more business to everything down the street but for us, it’s just, ‘You gotta get out,’” said Ercoli.

Ercoli said that the project would displace many of the local international businesses that make the city unique.

“There is such a diversity here you know?” she said, “and I don’t think that’s something you can find anywhere else in St. Louis.”

Ercoli said that some of her neighboring stores and restaurants within Jeffery Plaza can’t afford to just pick up and move.

“They don’t know what they’re going to do,” Ercoli said, “it could very well be the end of their restaurant or end of their shop.”

Sonya Pointer who lives near the plaza said she’s worried about some relatives who maybe be forced out of their homes.

“Assuming the property values increase and they can’t afford to pay the increased taxes on those property values,” said Pointer, “for some residents they may very well be kicked out. I know the city is trying to reassure us that’s not the case but we haven’t seen anything in writing.”

City manager Gregory Rose said that business and resident concerns are not going unheard. “Novus is offering two times the market value for their home,” Gregory explained. “We are working very hard to try and retain every business that is currently within University City that wants to remain within University City.”

Gregory said the city will continue with negotiations for the redevelopment agreement with the Webster Groves developer.

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