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Ellisville council approves petition for median break near former Hardee’s

By: Jessica Meszaros

The intersection of Ellisville Towne Center Drive and Truman Road, separated by a median [Google Earth photo]

At its Aug. 15 meeting, the Ellisville City Council approved a petition with an affirmative 5-1 vote regarding a petition by for the addition of a median break to allow left turning access from northbound Ellisville Towne Center Drive onto westbound Truman Road.

The petition was presented at the meeting by Jim Rosen, CCIM and vice president of brokerage for Pace Properties in St. Louis; along with Ellisville resident Alvin “Spike” Ehrhardt, who owns the property at 16301 Truman Road, the former location of a Hardee’s fast food restaurant.

Ehrhardt came before the city of Ellisville with a letter of intent from Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers fast food restaurant to potentially fill the vacant location. Ehrhardt’s goal was to petition the city for a median break at Ellisville Towne Center Drive and Truman Road to allow for increased accessibility into the property.

Currently, it’s impossible for vehicles traveling northbound on Ellisville Towne Center Drive to access the restaurant’s location on Truman Road without making an illegal U-turn or cutting through the nearby parking lots of The Home Depot, Kohl’s or the Mobil “On the Run” gas station.

Hardee’s closed the fast-food restaurant in early 2018, at the end of a 20-year lease and also citing a slight decline in business. Due to the location’s previous use as a fast food restaurant, Freddy’s would not need a conditional use permit for its redevelopment.

This isn’t the first time a Freddy’s restaurant location has appeared before the Ellisville City Council.

In January 2018, the council unanimously voted against a petition by Twin Spires Development, LLC to locate a Freddy’s near Mar El Court, a residential street off Manchester Road. That petition was met with concern by residents.

At the Aug. 15 meeting, the location off of Truman Road was identified as a more desirable location for the restaurant than the previously pitched location on Mar El Court.

“When the gentlemen representing Freddy’s said that they were very happy it worked out this way, that they ended up at this spot instead of where they wanted to put it before, that was just music to my ears,” Mayor Mike Roemerman said.

While the council’s enthusiasm about Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers returning to the city and its proposed location was unanimous, some councilmembers were concerned about how the median break might impact the other revenue-producing businesses located off Ellisville Towne Center Drive.

“Please know we will do everything in our power to make sure access to those businesses is not restricted,” Councilmember Dan Duffy [District 3] said. “That said, it’s also possible that Freddy’s will help produce incredible business for those people, and those businesses will produce significant business for Freddy’s. I like this idea.”

Some councilmembers expressed concern over the break in the median possibly causing vehicle backup in the cross-access to the property. To that end, Julie Nolfo, a project liaison from the Lochmueller Group engineering and environmental consulting firm, said MoDOT has been notified of the petition and is open to pursuing options with the city regarding how to organize traffic.

“That last discussion that took place with MoDOT was that they were willing to move forward with the opening of the median if that was the city’s desire,” Nolfo said. “We’re going to have discussions with them about what they need for it to be comfortable.”

Councilmember Stephen Chismarich [District 1] motioned to amend the petition to state that the petitioner would assume the cost of opening the median and, if necessary, also would pay for a progression study of the corridor if one is determined to be required in the future. The study would cost an estimated $20,000.

According to Roemerman, the likelihood of a traffic or progression study being needed at the location is debatable.

“One of the concerns about traffic is that the stacking of vehicles waiting to exit on Manchester Road would block that break and that cross-access section,” Roemerman said. “The way that light is timed, that lane actually empties out before the eastbound incoming traffic starts. So, the odds of that backing up by more than seven cars, from that perspective, is really difficult.”

The amended petition ultimately received approval from the council.

According to City Manager Bill Schwer, the next step is for the city to work with MoDOT to determine what the curb-cut into the median would look like and how it would function. Specific timeline details are still pending.

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