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Big Step Forward by Colonial Marketplace in Ladue

DESCO Proposes Community Improvement District for grand plans along Ladue Road.

If all goes according to schedule, Ladue-ites and others in the area will be able to enjoy pancakes and sausage in the morning and fine Italian dining in the evening at the newly-proposed Colonial Marketplace at 8811 Ladue Rd.

Once permits are approved, construction can be completed in 5-6 months.

Everyone in the area knows the location all too well. Mark Schnuck, President of NAI DESCO, the developing arm of Schnucks Markets calls the location “shabby,” -- the location is something that soon will go from shabby to chic.

Schnuck and his development team put this 68,000 square foot project on the dais of the Ladue City Council for their approval. The council and mayor lapped it up.

“I remember when Bettendorf’s (Meats) used to have a store there in the 1960s. That was the community meeting place,” said alderwoman Nancy Spewak.

The amalgamation of colonial style buildings, known as the Lammert’s Center was purchased from Reliance Bank last October.

Developers have asked the Ladue City Council to hand off the project to St. Louis County and handle the sale of bonds since 25 percent of the land mass is in Clayton. (The property runs from Gay Avenue on the eastern side to the eastern edge of Ladue Crossing on Ladue Road, owned and managed by Schnucks and DESCO.

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Significantly, the new Great Rivers Biking Trail soon under development will run directly between the two adjacent properties.

Already, contracts have been signed. Leasing agreements have been reached. The first key renter is the Original Pancake House, the same operation with a facility currently in the Chesterfield Valley. Cini Italian Restaurant (owned by the group that owns Giovanni’s on the Hill) will offer fine dining on the western edge of the property. A major coffee shop is in the works.

Major revisions on the drawing board

DESCO is planning major revisions to the center. The facade of the old Wild Oats Market will be ripped off and the building elevation will be raised to match the height of the old Lammert’s property to the east. Identifying signs will be much easier to read from the street.

Much of the colonial look and feel with rooftop cupolas will remain. The brick structure work will stay in place. Stone walls with a Chippendale railing will adorn the area around Cini with outdoor dining. Renters of other spaces will be comprised mostly of unique local shops and boutiques.

“The bones of the buildings are good. We are preserving some of the original work,” said Schnuck, prior to the start of the meeting.

Without naming names, Schnuck indicated that Central West End shop owners were interested in locating to his center. Shoppers will be able to browse high end stores similar to those found further west on Clayton Road in and around the MarketPlace in Ladue.

The entire property will be landscaped with an upscale look. The development includes an awning package; mature boxwood ferns and advanced street-scape and lighting programs. DESCO has already been talking with homeowners on Colonial Lane, just to the rear of the property.  All new neutral color fencing will surround the buildings.

“We are going to dress up the entrance to the city. It (Lammert’s Center) has been an eyesore for quite some time,” said Schnuck. Tax loses have been significant, he indicated.

There will be no costs to the city. Local tax payers and school districts are not asked to chip in a single penny.  DESCO has called for a Community Improvement District (CID). These are typically developments where the tax dollars stay within the project.

Schnuck has asked for this project to be merged with the Ladue Crossing Center, albeit not the anchor the Schnuck’s Market. The market being a much more price specific driven operation, Schnuck preferred that element be left out of the taxing district.

“This is a thoughtful plan. It looks fantastic,” said Alderman John Fox. Other members of the group nodded in agreement.

John Maupin, Ladue’s city attorney chimed in. “We are appreciative of St. Louis County taking the lead with this project,” he said.

The project was passed by voice vote 6-0 and passed along to St. Louis County for final stages of development.

Read about how Splash landed in the market place last July.

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