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Multi-million dollar redevelopment project in U City could force businesses to relocate

"There's a culture here. There's a community here and this hurts."

Everyone wants their community to grow and prosper but what if it means dozens of homeowners and local businesses have to move.

That’s the reality for many people in University City as the area considers adding a $190 million retail development by Interstate 170 and Olive Boulevard. Dozens of homes and businesses in that area would have to relocate to make room for the project.

One of those businesses is “All Star Tattoo.” Employee Many Ercoli said it’s very challenging.

“It’s definitely a challenge when you’ve built a reputation in the same spot, over 16 years,” she said.

University City said it would pay for the project through tax increment financing. Those in favor of the project said it would bring more money and jobs to the area. The decision, though, has sparked outrage and even protests.

“I think it’s disheartening just because of how many locally owned businesses they’re taking out,” said Ercoli.

The city said it won’t use eminent domain to force anyone to sell. Instead, it’s offering to buy the properties and pay above market value. But the strip where All Star Tattoo is located has already been bought so Mandy said all the businesses in that area have to move.

“There’s a culture here. There’s a community here and this hurts,” said Ercoli.

All Star Tattoo has already found a new home in Maplewood, but the owners have not yet picked a date. The city council still needs to vote on the project.

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