Part 1: How We Got Here
Rumors have surfaced that Ellisville city officials directly asked the Sansone Group to build a Walmart in the city’s vacant lot nearby Clarkson and Manchester Roads, said Ada Hood, Ellisville’s planning director.
This, she said, is not true.
In 2008, as the United States entered its most recent recession, sales tax revenues in Ellisville were flat and in a downward trend, said Finance Director Don Cary.
That’s when the city officials realized they needed to do something to increase revenue, Cary explained.
The city then hired an economic development consultant to do a study of Ellisville’s commercial corridor, which includes Clayton, Clarkson and Manchester Roads.
The consultants submitted a Strategic Economic Development Plan, identifying underutilized areas that had potential for revenue-generating businesses.
“As part of that, they said the interception of Clarkson and Manchester was underutilized and recommended that the city seek proposals to try and see what kind of interest we could draw from developers to that area,” Hood said.
In the summer of 2010, the city staff sent out an RFP, or request for proposals, outlining the requisites and needs of the city for a commercial project in that area.
“It was open to everybody. Published in the paper. Advertised. But the only proposal we received was from Sansone Group, and it was proposing the Walmart,” Hood said.
Hood said, however, that just because the Sansone Group’s Walmart was the only proposal on the table, it did not mean it was automatically approved.
“Just because Sansone was the only developer who submitted something, it doesn’t necessarily mean we were stuck with them because they were the only ones,” Hood said. “We reviewed the submittal against our own criteria. There were standards and requirements they had to submit to.”
The proposal, Hood said, met all the city’s criteria.
“So that’s how we got here,” she said.
Writer's note: Since the Walmart development project was presented to the City of Ellisville Council earlier in April, rumors surrounding its design, size, and effects on the community have surfaced in the comments section of this site, in social media and during public hearings.
In an attempt to clarify what is known, what is a myth and what is unknown about the Walmart development, Ballwin-Ellisville Patch met with Ada Hood, planning director; Bill Schwer, public works director; and Don Cary, finance director, to discuss the project.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series.