Development plans for former Noah's Ark site scaled back - KMOV.com

Development plans for former Noah's Ark site scaled back

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) -- The development planned for the old Noah's Ark site in St. Charles is changing again.

A developer for the 25-acre project on Monday told the city planning and zoning commission that Cullinan Properties was reducing the number of apartments from 540 to 296 because of current economic conditions in the real estate market.

Rob Weatherald, the Cullinan vice president who made the presentation, said Thursday that based on feedback from the commission, Cullinan was going to increase its proposal before it presented the plan to the full city council.

The development was first approved in 2006 for Whittaker Builders. Cullinan took over the project and the $55 million tax increment financing subsidy that came with it a year later.

Cullinan has dropped the tallest buildings from the "new urbanist" complex, and the decision to eliminate half the residential units is also creating concern among some council members, including Alderman Laurie Feldman, who represents that area.

"I'm not very happy about it," she said during an interview at her home. "I was so excited to think that there would be a development in my ward where people could live, work and play -- a true lifestyle community. I am hoping that we aren't losing the integrity of that lifestyle community."

Weatherald insists Cullinan is still "bullish on the project."

But what project is that?

A staff report presented to the St. Charles City Planning and Zoning Commission shows the dramatic changes in the project during the last three years.

In 2006, the development had 27 buildings -- only four of them were one to two stories tall, three of them were at least eight stories tall.

The plan presented this week by Cullinan calls for 18 buildings. Half of them are one to two stories, and none is taller than six stories.

Since 2006, the development has nearly doubled commercial space and cut residential square footage by more than half.

Cullinan is optimistic it will break ground by the end of the year, but it's unclear exactly what the project will be when it's finished.

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