Now that has vacated it's former home on Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur for the new location , public attention is turning to what will happen to the old property, along with a still-vacant lot immediately across Dautel Lane from the current Walgreens.
In reality, the work on figuring that out has been ongoing for years, as city leaders, developers and residents have had their own thoughts about what could, would or should go in that space.
The process took a public step forward Thursday night. A representative for the property owner and neighboring residents met in the chapel of the Church of The Open Word with a representative of Chick-fil-A restaurants to look at a site plan to locate the fast food restaurant and a bank branch on the property. At this point, there is no bank tenant identified for the project.
Even with Somewhere Over The Rainbow playing in the background before the meeting began, it was evident soon after that this meeting in a chapel is far from ready for a marriage.
Approximately 20 residents came to the meeting, and several of them had good things to say about Chick-Fil-A. They just don't want the restaurant and the drive-thru that comes with it, near them.
"My big concern is that the traffic coming in and out of there is going to be enormous," said Bob Wehmueller who lives on unincorporated St. Louis County property roughly 300 feet from the commercial site. He said he loves the product, but said, "It's the worst case scenario you could have for this location from a neighborhood standpoint, the worst."
Bill Biermann, working on behalf of the commercial property owner, told the audience that despite wishes for a hardware store or other uses on the 2-acre site, what's being discussed now is the result of years of effort to locate the restaurant somewhere in the city and that putting an additional retail outlet on the site makes the most financial sense.
"We've talked to a wide variety of users and we just can't get any viable user to go there at this point. That's why we're excited about the Chick fil-A because we've spent several years marketing trying to find different users and we're excited because we belive Chick-fil-A would be a definite asset to the community," he said.
No plan has been submitted to the for review.
City ordinances don't allow a fast food restaurant with a drive-thru to be located on less than three acres, so in addition to going through the Planning and Zoning process and getting city council approval, any plan would also require what's called a text amendment because there is no city precedent for such an allowance, according to Community Development Director Paul Langdon.
Chick-Fil-A's representative noted that the restaurant typically locates in larger retail centers with lots already prepared for fast food or quick-serve restaurants, but that despite those challenges, there is interest in adding Creve Coeur to a stable that already includes Chesterfield, Arnold, Des Peres and St. Peters.
"Its a nice community, there's a lot of daytime popoulation here with the different businesses there's alot of traffic on Olive, the higher demographics with more disposable income, it just fits," said Peter Sheahan, from NAIDesco, a real estate services firm working with the restaurant. He mentioned the chain hopes to open eight more locations next year in the St. Louis area.
Sheahan and Biermann were quick to point out they knew residents would likely not be thrilled to see them or the proposal, but hoped after two hours of back and forth about a variety of questions, including the necessity for another bank in the city, the amount of traffic the project might generate, and the lingering impression by some that this was somehow already a done deal, that the skeptics in front of them would work with them moving forward.
"We just felt it would be better to be upfront with these people, get their input as opposed to having them find out by a letter," Sheahan said, adding that he hoped some sort of proposal could be put before the city later this summer.