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Public Gets First Peek At Plans For Rolling Ridge

Plans for the 1.6-acre site at Gore and Marshall Place include building renovations, a coffeehouse, microbrewery, restaurant, retail store and a five-story condominium building. photo by Diana Linsley.

October 05, 2018
More than 80 people attended an Oct. 1 public hearing on a proposed $25 million development at the Rolling Ridge Nursery property on North Gore Avenue in Old Webster.

About two dozen citizens spoke at the Webster Groves Plan Commission meeting. The majority were neighbors from the adjacent Marshall Place who claimed that the project would result in increased traffic, parking problems, storm water runoff and other concerns.

Public discussion of the redevelopment, which requires a zoning change, was left open at least through Monday, Nov. 5. Symsack Development LLC, on behalf of McMillan Development LLC, has big plans for 1.6 acres at 60 and 60A N. Gore Ave., and 75 Marshall Place.

The plan includes the redevelopment and re-use of the existing building at 60 N. Gore Ave. for a coffeehouse, microbrewery, restaurant, retail stores, offices and more. It also includes the demolition and replacement of the existing one-story greenhouse on the north side of 60 N. Gore.

What drew the most attention at Monday's meeting was the proposed construction of a five-story, 36-unit condominium building on the northeast end of 75 Marshall Place, adjacent to the Shady Creek Nature Sanctuary.

Rolling Ridge plans to continue in operation within the newly-redeveloped space.

About 108 off-street parking spaces would be created on the property's entirety.

The existing two-story building at 60 N. Gore was built in 1893 as the grain warehouse for the Henry Shultz Feed and Grain Store. The current one-story conjoined brick building was built in 1914, according to city officials. The one- story greenhouse on the north side of 60 N. Gore was constructed in the 1980s as a part of Rolling Ridge, and additional tenants have also used office space in that building.

The family of Henry Shultz have owned and operated the business since its beginnings, with Rolling Ridge Nursery operating since 1959. Its current owner is Jim McMillan.

Several speakers questioned the appropriateness of the Oct. 1 public hearing after city officials said Symsack Development still needs to submit information for staff and commission review, including more detailed floor plans, a topographical site plan, conceptual architectural renderings, parking demand and traffic impact studies, and a conceptual landscape plan.

A 50-foot landscaped buffer will be needed along Shady Grove Creek, said planner Danny Jendusa, adding light poles could be no more than 25 feet tall, outdoor loud speakers couldn't be within 1,000 feet of homes, and there would be limits on hours of operation of any drinking establishment. He said various parts of the property are in national and local historic districts.

Symsack, who lives in Webster Groves, said the plan "will benefit the community in a tremendous manner and be transformational for the North Gore corridor." He said the condominiums would have a median price of $650,000, and could extend to about $1 million. He added that the entire development project will contribute a net increase in revenue to the city, school district, library and other entities of more than $400,000 per year in real estate and retail sales taxes.

Citizen Concerns

But the vast majority of speakers expressed concerns about the plan.

Martha Hasting lives on Marshall Place adjacent to Rolling Ridge. She protested that a driveway on Marshall would be used for traffic entry and exit, while the driveway on North Gore would be used only for entry. She asked for both entry and exit only on North Gore, as well as consideration of closing the Marshall driveway.

"No fence or decibel restriction will reduce the noise (of microbrewery patrons) at midnight or 1 a.m.," she said.

Natalie Teague, also of Marshall, said neighbors have concerns over possible increased storm water runoff, creek sediment pollution and sewer backups.

"There are a vast number of modest homes along nearby Kirkham Avenue that must be protected. Do not allow this massive new construction," Teague said.

Marshall resident Adam Eaton said a five-story building is completely out of scale with all adjacent properties.

"Traffic around Rolling Ridge is already a concern, including frequent semi-trailers blocking our roadway. Why should Webster Groves choose to make this worse?" he continued.

Janet Noble of North Gore Avenue said the condominiums belong in another part of town, a location where there will be less significant environmental impact. Noble said there are already about six coffee shops and a planned microbrewery within a mile of the property.

Marshall Place resident Sarah Smith said the community should consider growth and "needs change to continue to provide funds to educate children and create a safe environment."

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