February 26, 2023 Issue
I hope this newsletter finds you well and in good spirits. We have much to look forward to in our community and I am excited to share updates with you to keep you informed of the latest happenings.
I want to thank you for your continued support and I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving as your Council Member. The Municipal Election will take place on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Look for information published by the St. Louis County Board of Elections on how and where to vote.
The League of Women Voters will be hosting a Wildwood City Council Candidate Forum on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 6:30pm. For details, click here. Regrettably, I have a prearranged commitment that will prohibit me from attending this event.
Remember, if you ever have any questions, comments, thoughts, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Let's stay connected.
314-750-5489 | email@example.com
Community Park Enhancements
Exciting news for Wildwood residents! The bid process has officially begun for upgrades to our Community Park with the addition of four pickleball courts and a tennis court (that can also be converted to two half-court basketball courts). Room for four additional pickleball courts is available for a future expansion.
We expect a recommendation to the City Council at the March meeting, contracts signed in April, and work authorized to begin in May.
The course will be located along Pond Grover Parkway that runs through the park.
Get ready to lace up your sneakers this fall as construction is set to start soon. Let's come together and enjoy these new recreational facilities.
Development in Wildwood
Development is always a topic that attracts attention in Wildwood and why not? We see new development taking place all around us - but by around us I mean, mostly taking place in neighboring cities and communities. In fact, new development in Wildwood has been pretty much at a standstill the past several years. The facts and numbers tell the story.
Let’s first do a little trivia…
How many new commercial buildings have gone up in the Wildwood Town Center since 2008 - the last 15 years?
The answer is 1. The B&B Movie Theater is the sole commercial building that has been built in the Wildwood Town Center since 2008. The B&B Theater opened 13 years ago in October 2010.
Now, if you want to throw one more in the mix, I guess you can say that Anthology (2016) can count, but it is mostly residential. The only other building that has gone up in the Town Center during this time is City Hall, but it is neither a commercial or residential building, it is government.
What about homes?
From April 2016 through January 2023, a period of about 7 years, a total of 26 homes were approved that required a rezoning.
Note: Some of these approved home rezonings have yet to put a shovel in the ground. This total excludes an 18 townhome proposal that was later withdrawn.
At the February 13, 2023 City Council meeting we saw the first major subdivision approved in 7 years. The approval was for The Reserve with 132 homes that will be located on the 50.65 acre parcel on the west side of Route 109 between Hwy 100 and Manchester Rd. This proposal was first submitted back in 2015 as Ackerly Place.
The historical data shows a significant drop in the number of new detached home rezonings approved over the last seven years.
History of The Reserve Property
The location of the proposed Reserve property has had a long history throughout the years. Known as the Slavik Family Tract, this land was once the subject of extensive debate when a proposal was approved by City leaders in 2006 to change the existing zoning and regulating plans to allow for a shopping center with a Target. The Desco Group had submitted the development proposal back in January 2005.
However, the site had been targeted as a major commercial destination from pre-Wildwood days when St. Louis County had a vision for a shopping center similar to Chesterfield's mall area. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about the proposed shopping center on February 17, 1986. At the time, the major proposals in the area were for "Chesterfield Lakes" (pre-Lake Chesterfield) with 167 homes and 120 multi-family homes on 172 acres and the other was for the "Villages of Cherry Hills" with 799 housing units on 202 acres. (Click on the images to expand.)
Wildwood approved in 2006 the Desco Group's proposal for a Target shopping center on this site. The proposal drawings are shown above.
However, the plans for the Target Shopping Center fell apart, when during the Site Development Plan process Desco had requested a Community Improvement District, a form of public finance incentive, to offset some of the development costs. The Target shopping center plan died.
In March 2010, the once a decade Town Center Update was completed. Four properties, including the Slavik tract, were set aside to be dealt with last. Efforts refocused on eliminating the Slavik property's land use from the commercial vision of a shopping center to one that supported residential housing. Once again, this property became the focus of debate.
Proponents for excluding the commercial district and shift towards residential use argued "the move reflected Wildwood's vision to 'not be like everything else' in the St. Louis area." In 2013, the land use changes were ratified and the fate of the Slavik tract was changed to residential uses and some limited forms of commercial uses.
Today’s Reserve plan came about after a lengthy period of changes that reduced the initial number of homes from 160 to 132. Average lot sizes with the plan increased from the original 5,000 to 7,500 square feet to the current plan that ranges from 7,500 to 12,000 square feet. The plan also brings a unique planning philosophy we haven't seen in Wildwood before called "prefurbia". This style reduces infrastructure to invent new ways to develop land and build homes intending to provide greater connectivity, efficiency, space, and value. (R. Harrison.) A noticeable difference is that none of the fronts of homes are in the same line.
The tumultuous history of this property, once deemed to be a commercial destination including a Target shopping center and later on changed to eliminate the commercial district redirected its future towards a residential use.
It should be noted that this property is the last remaining large parcel of its size (50 acres) in the Town Center. Any future developments in the Town Center will be of remaining smaller parcels.
Multi-Use Proposal in Town Center
Back in my November newsletter I shared with you a concept plan that was presented to the city for a new Town Center project on approximately 15 acres of private property. Since that time, the proposal was officially submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission and a public hearing was held at the commission’s January 17, 2023 meeting.
Greenberg Development, who you may recognize as the company responsible for bringing the Dierbergs Town Center and B&B Movie Theater to the Wildwood Town Center, is the entity presenting the proposal.
The Greenberg project proposes:
The petitioner said they are “proposing to develop luxury apartments with amenities that will be attractive to professionals and Wildwood residents who want to downsize.”
There is no road access from this project to Manchester Road. Access is proposed from Eastgate Lane & Main Street and Taylor Road.
There is no development proposed on the parcel located on the northeast corner of Manchester Road and Taylor Road. The recreational use area with pickleball courts open to all citizens will be located adjacent to the Dierbergs Town Center.
About the land use for this area
The Town Center Regulating Plan Map has classified this area as Downtown District and Workplace District (Town Center Development Manual; District Specific Criteria).
Per the Town Center Development Manual, the intent of the Downtown District is the most urban permitted within the Town Center Area. It is intended to be a walkable, mixed-use downtown for Wildwood and surrounding communities, which can be active at least eighteen (18) hours a day and seven (7) days a week. The intent is to create intensive development within a traditional street and block system, and not to permit isolated individual structures surrounded by parking lots.
The intent of the Workplace District is primarily for offices, including medical and dental offices and clinics, and individual retail or restaurant businesses. Live-work units are also permitted. The intent of the Workplace District is to encourage businesses that have an individual character and relate to the immediate street. Individual developments should have a landscaped perimeter, and parking areas should be primarily at the side and rear of the buildings.
Permitted Land Uses
A full list of uses can be accessed by clicking here and viewing permitted (P) or conditional (C) uses for Downtown District and Workplace District.
The Department of Planning is now preparing its report to the Planning and Zoning Commission for the March meeting.
Business in Wildwood
It is undeniable that Wildwood businesses are a fundamental part of our community. Whenever I engage in conversations with residents, the topic of our local businesses always arises. It is not just about the goods and services they provide, but they also serve as a gathering place for people to meet and interact.
Our community thrives because of these businesses. They offer a space for people to come together, exchange ideas, and build relationships. These establishments are a testament to the character and spirit of our city.
Therefore, it is important that we continue to support our local businesses. By doing so, we are investing in the well-being of our community and its future. Let's make a conscious effort to shop and eat locally, so that we can ensure the prosperity of our businesses and the vitality of our community.
Here are a few updates:
Lucky Dog Central (16917 Manchester Rd): The owners of Lucky Dog Central have started renovating their property to accommodate a pet friendly café. They are expected to re-open in May 2023.
Fox Company Yoga (16347 Main St): Fox Company Yoga officially opened on January 29, 2023
Puppingham Palace (16540 Manchester Rd): is expanding their operation into the adjacent endcap located at 16528 Manchester Rd. The owner of Puppingham Palace hopes to have the expansion completed by March 2023.
Business Owners Gather Together
On January 12th, our city held a meeting with local business owners to discuss the current state of the city’s business environment and gather feedback on potential improvements. The turnout was fantastic, and it was wonderful to see so many business owners engaged and enthusiastic about the future of our community.
During the meeting, we heard updates from various businesses and discussed the challenges they faced. Some of the topics I heard were signage, workforce challenges, and lack of foot traffic. The discussion was open and honest, and it was evident that everyone in attendance was genuinely invested in the well-being of our community. The feedback we received will be invaluable in guiding us as we work to create a more supportive and vibrant business environment in our community.
As someone who has been involved in promoting local businesses for many years, I was particularly encouraged by the participation in the room. It's clear that there is a strong desire among business owners to work together and find solutions to the challenges we face.
Moving forward, I'm excited about the potential for positive change in our community. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the business owners who attended the meeting. Let's keep the momentum going and continue to build a thriving and supportive business environment in our community.
Celebrating Route 66 Month in Wildwood
As the warm weather approaches and spring is in full bloom, Wildwood is gearing up to celebrate Route 66 month. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the history of our city, and engage with the community through exciting events.
Kicking off the festivities is the Route 66 Scavenger Hunt, which will run for the entire month of April. This is a fun and interactive way to explore our city and learn a little local history in the process. The hunt will feature clues that will be posted on April 1st, and participants will receive raffle tickets for exciting prizes based on how many clues they solve. This is a perfect way to spend a day with your family or friends, and discover new places in Wildwood that you might not have known existed.
Another highlight of the Route 66 month celebration is the Route 66 Outdoor Movie Night, taking place on Friday, April 14th. This year's feature presentation is the movie "Cars." The outdoor screening will take place in the Wildwood Town Center, located on the corner of Taylor and Main. The event will feature pre-show activities starting at 7:30 p.m., where you can indulge in some treats while you settle down in your car or chair to enjoy the movie. This is a fantastic opportunity to have some quality time with your family or friends, while enjoying a spring night.
Overall, Route 66 month is a time to celebrate our city's history and come together as a community. Come and join us in these exciting events, and let's celebrate Wildwood's unique Route 66 heritage together!
For more information visit: https://www.cityofwildwood.com/2128/Route-66-April-Movie-and-Scavenger-Hunt
Photo: Wildwood Student Route 66 Taskforce, City of Wildwood
New Route 66 Roadside Park Planning
Plans are in the works to create a Roadside Route 66 Park on Manchester Road and Grover Crossing Drive. The project is supported by city staff, local Rockwood students, and the volunteers on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. The preservation of historical landmarks and sites, such as Route 66, is important for preserving the history and cultural heritage of our community.
Route 66 is often referred to as "America's Main Street" because it was one of the original highways in the United States highway system and was a major route for travelers during the 20th century. The roadway, which runs from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, is rich with history and cultural significance.
It will be interesting to see how the plans for the Roadside Route 66 project come together. It is important to keep in mind that the plans are subject to change and are likely to evolve as the project moves forward.
St. Louis Community College Wildwood Campus Expansion
Exciting news for students and residents in the Wildwood area! The St. Louis Community College (STLCC) Wildwood Campus is planning an $88 million expansion project that will include a brand new building and renovations to existing facilities. The project will include a new Center for Health Sciences, a Center for Technology, and other building upgrades.
The new building will span over 144,000 square feet and will be four stories tall. This expansion marks the first non-residential construction project to take place in the Wildwood Town Center in over a decade. The project is expected to bring new life to the Town Center, creating jobs, and providing more resources for students in the area.
The new Center for Health Sciences and Center for Technology is part of a larger $400 million construction initiative across all of STLCC's campuses and will provide students with state-of-the-art facilities to learn and train in. With the growing demand for healthcare and technology jobs in the region, this expansion project will help to meet the needs of local employers and provide Wildwood and local area students with a competitive advantage in the workforce. Funding for the project is being made possible by an eight-cent property tax levy increase approved by voters in August 2021.
St. Louis Community College’s investment in the Wildwood campus is an excellent example of how education can lead to positive economic growth and development in our community. I am excited to see this project benefit Wildwood and look forward to its completion.
Remembering Paul Wojciechowski
I am deeply saddened to share the recent passing of Paul Wojciechowski.
Paul was our former Ward 8 Council Member. I was appointed to his seat after he resigned in late 2014 to pursue a new career opportunity. I had the honor to work with Paul as a citizen on issues that affected our community. Paul graciously met me at my home to discuss the issues. Paul continued to stay involved over the years and most recently served on our city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Paul’s service and passion for our City will be forever remembered. He was an advocate for our city, the Town Center, and the cycling community.
I ask that you please keep his family in your prayers that they will find comfort.
Gateway Disabled Ski Program
Every week, the Gateway Disabled Ski Program meets here in Wildwood at Hidden Valley Ski Resort to provide adaptive skiing opportunities for people with disabilities. It's incredible to see the volunteers, who have been doing this for over 30 years, selflessly giving their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of others.
On January 30th, I attended a ceremony where GDSP received a $40,000 grant from Move United and Harford for new equipment.
Thank you to their service to our community and for reminding us all that there is so much good happening right here in Wildwood.
Photo from GDSP.
City to Honor Elijah Madison
I hold a deep appreciation for discovering and sharing knowledge regarding our Wildwood history.
Recently, the City’s Historic Preservation Commission recommended, with approval by the Administration and Public Works Commission and the City Council, the installation by end of year for a memorial plaque honoring Elijah Madison. This memorial plaque is an opportunity to share our area’s connection to history and the story of Elijah Madison.
Robert R. Archibald, president of the Missouri History Museum, wrote in May 27, 2011 the following:
“Elijah Madison, born a slave in 1841, was brought to a plantation in Missouri near what is now Babler State Park. When and how he joined the Union Army we don’t know; but early on Union recruiters were accepting “any able-bodied men of African descent,” slave or free. Thousands of African Americans in border states, including Missouri, responded. In the fall of 1863, Elijah Madison became one of them, fleeing from the plantation to St. Louis where he was mustered into the Union Army’s 68th Regiment of the U. S. Colored Troops at Jefferson Barracks.
He served the Union well, as indicated by his promotion to Corporal in 1865 and his discharge a few months later. These documents were part of his descendents’ gift. Why he returned to the area he had escaped to join the Union Army we don’t know, but something about that land and people must have been in his bone and blood. He farmed on land near where he had been held in bondage and married another ex-slave. He also became a preacher.
Slave, then soldier, and finally citizen, Elijah Madison is far from us in time and experience. But we can walk the land he walked, perhaps even come across his grave in the African Baptist cemetery near the old plantation around Wild Horse Creek Road.”
Celebrating Women in Wildwood
Congratulations to all the amazing women business owners in Wildwood! Here are some of the women business owners featured in this month’s February 8th issue of West Newsmagazine. However, please note there are more, not shown here, that deserve the same recognition.
Their hard work and determination is an inspiration to us all. They are not only making a positive impact on our community, but also paving the way for future generations of female entrepreneurs.
Spring Egg Hunt April 1st
Spring is almost here and you know what that means... it's time to get excited for the City’s annual Spring Egg Hunt at Fairway Elementary School!
I’m thrilled to announce that this year's event will be held LIVE at the field, marking the first time since before the pandemic.
Join us on Saturday, April 1, 2023, for a day of fun and adventure as we search for eggs filled with sweet treats and prizes.
Mark your calendars and get ready for an egg-citing day of family-friendly fun!
Discussing Local Government
I had the honor of welcoming State Senator Sandy Crawford and Representatives Joe Adams and Bill Faulkner to the Missouri Municipal League’s Annual Legislative Conference.
It was great leading a panel discussion on the impact of state legislation on citizens from our 650 member cities. It was an engaging and fun conversation that shed light on the importance of local government.
At the meeting on Monday, February 6, 2023, the Planning and Zoning Commission received a presentation on proposed revisions to the City's Tree Preservation and Restoration Code by the Department of Planning. Several questions were posed and additional research requests were made. It is anticipated that the Planning and Zoning Commission will deliberate on this matter for the next few months before taking a final decision on the updated code.
Omni Tree Service commenced its last round of low priority Ash Tree removals, targeting around 90 trees. The majority of trees scheduled for removal are located in Wynncrest, Woodcliff Heights, and Garden Valley Farms subdivisions.
You can read more about the city’s Ash Tree project at: https://www.cityofwildwood.com/627/Ash-Trees-and-the-Emerald-Ash-Borer