Creve Coeur's City Council this week gave final approval to the plan brought by Plaza Motors to build a new Jaguar and Land Rover dealership on the site of the Reuther Automotive property on Olive Boulevard. Approval came after councilmembers scuttled an amendment that could have killed the deal.
Part of city staff's argument for supporting the project, despite the fact that as an automotive use it may not ideally fit long-term planning goals for building out a "downtown" district, is that Plaza Motors agreed to donate part of the right-of-way along Ham Avenue, which the city could use down the road to expand and utilize what many would consider now is a glorified private driveway. Part of that longer term vision also includes an additional lane of traffic on Olive Boulevard.
The donation also worked to off-set the plan's apparent amount of site coverage (pavement to greenspace) that went above city guidelines.
On Monday, as the ordinance was being discussed by councilmembers, it included the notion that Plaza would pay for a portion of those down-the-line road improvements. While Creve Coeur Community Development Director Paul Langdon said that idea had been broached with Plaza's engineer, another representative, Jerry Patterson, said it was the first he'd heard of it and that "this would put a squash to the deal."
After several council members voiced concern that there had not been time to evaluate the value of the property Plaza would donate, in effect to see if that property was worth the allowances the city would give up on site coverage, Langdon acknowledged an oversight and reported the proposal was only .7 percent above city guidelines.
After removing the amendments regarding road improvement costs and the 70 percent site coverage requirement, the proposal passed 7-0.
Reached Wednesday, Anne Reuther said operations at Reuther Automotive, which have been limited to used car sales since Chrysler pulled the dealership from Creve Coeur at the location at the height of the economic crisis, said the last day in business there would be October 19. A property auction, not including vehicles, is scheduled for November 3.
Janet Schopp, Reuther's General Manager, told Patch she "couldn't be happier" with the news, even if she regrets the circumstances that led to the development. She said that Asbury, Plaza Motors' parent company, "was more than fair" in the process.
The Reuther's Ford dealership in Herculaneum, Missouri will remain open.
A Waterway Car Wash Detail Center which opened on the property last year will also move off the property. A message left for a Waterway company spokesperson on future plans was not returned Wednesday.