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'Strength of character': Webster Groves business owners applaud city council's decision to end redevelopment plans

Mayor Gerry Welch said the council decided in favor of the people to end the $350M Douglass Hill Redevelopment project.

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — The message to the Webster Grove City Council was loud and clear. Business owners do not want the Douglass Hill Redevelopment Plan to move forward.

"The proposal as planned would not have included the St. Louis Gym Center," said Janie Block, executive director of the St. Louis Gym Centre. "So we would have had to been relocated. Which is not an easy task for our needs."

"We would lose all of our parking," said Lynn Cressler, president of Rolling Ridge Plant Nursery.

Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch worked with a local developer for over a year to design a $350 million project for residential and retail space.

"Essentially took everything that was there down and out in the area and also took out the nature shady creek area that was out and then propagating the site with a lot of apartments, up to 900," said Welch.

The project would take about a decade, buying out businesses within the 15 acres running east and west from Rock Hill Road and Gore Avenue and north and south from Kirkham and Pacific Avenues.

"There was also the issue of traffic," said Welch. "Not only traffic from a development that would bring up to 900 apartments, but what would be involved during construction."

Ultimately the council decided in the best interest of their community and voted 'no' unanimously during Tuesday's meeting.

"They felt it wasn't what the residents of Webster wanted and so therefore they voted no on it," said Cressler. "To me, that shows strength of character."

"We want to stay in this community we didn't want to have to look elsewhere and replacing us would've been difficult to do in Webster Groves," said Block.

Welch says they'll look into redeveloping parcels of the area instead of gutting out the entire block.

5 On Your Side left a message with the developer, working under the name SG Collaborative, for comment but they haven't responded.