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Bob's, seafood staple in University City, closes amid eminent domain action

The last day in business for the seafood wholesaler and retailer, 8660 Olive Blvd., was Saturday.
Credit: nikkytok - stock.adobe.com
Generic file photo: spanish seafood paella, closeup view

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. — Bob's Seafood is closing amid an eminent domain action from University City, as that municipality eyes a massive project anchored by a Costco.

The last day in business for the seafood wholesaler and retailer, 8660 Olive Blvd., was Saturday.

Owner Bob Mepham said for the past three or four years, he and his wife, Barb, have been communicating with University City and the development team on the $189.4 million Costco project, called Market at Olive.

He said at one point, an unspecified developer offered "a decent amount of money" for the Olive property, but that a subsequent developer offered less, and Bob's, owned by BSF Properties LLC, wouldn't take that amount.

When Market at Olive was first pitched in 2018, Novus Development was behind the development, and guided it through approval of $70.5 million in tax-increment financing from University City. But last year, Larry Chapman, CEO of Seneca Commercial Real Estate, and Bob Clark, CEO of construction firm Clayco and developer CRG, took the lead. The new partnership also included David Hutkin of real estate firm Hutkin Properties and Caroline Saunders, former general counsel for CRG who's serving as partner and general counsel on Market.

University City in May 2020 filed an eminent domain suit against Bob's, plus 15 other commercial properties targeted for redevelopment, court records show.

The court has assigned acquisition prices for some properties, and Mepham said his was given three weeks ago. He declined to give the price, and records weren't immediately available.

A University City spokesperson said the city "initiated the eminent domain process that allowed a non-biased third party (judge and commissioners) to determine the value of the properties." The spokesperson added that the developer is responsible for costs associated with property acquisition.

Bob and Barb Mepham have been operating the seafood firm since the late 1970s, as Market in the Loop. In 2005, after searching for the "perfect" building for 10 years, Mepham said they found the building on Olive.

When the Market project took off, Mepham said they hired real estate agents to search for another building from which to operate. But he said they "ran out of time" and decided to close.

Although he doesn't take the decision to close lightly, Mepham said he'll enjoy his wife's food and spending more time fishing.

"There's good in everything, I guess," he said. 

Read the rest of the story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.


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