The first reading of a proposal for the construction of a Menards store in Wentzville failed to win approval at the November 4 Board of Aldermen meeting.
The Menards site plan had received the blessing of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, but several aldermen expressed their concerns about the addition of another big-box home improvement store.
Ward 2 alderman Tricia Byrnes was the most outspoken of the aldermen, mentioning that Menards had walked away from a previous iteration of the project several years ago. Menards spokesman Tyler Edwards said that several factors were involved in that decision, including the cost of developing the site. Instead, the site became a CID (Community Improvement District) and a one-cent sales tax was levied on many of the neighboring businesses along Wentzville Parkway to fund the project.
“Ultimately, the grading and preparation . . . was paid for by our residents,” Byrnes said.
A representative from THF, the developers of the project, said that the original plan had included “a mix of various tenants.” No tenants had been signed to the project, though, and when COVID hit, retailers like Fresh Thyme Market were no longer interested in opening new stores.
“COVID did not shut down retail,” Byrnes said. “Multiple tenants would have offered more flexibility.” She said that if Menards was to go out of business, the development would be stuck with a huge building with limited prospects.
Alderman Matt Swanson expressed the concerns of many residents that another big box store would cause more traffic problems and congestion on Wentzville Parkway.
Alderman Bryan Harr said that he didn’t think Menards was the right fit for the development. “We’re here because the deal was altered,” he said. Harr continued to support the development as a whole. “The public benefit was, and still is, immense,” he said, referring to the community center that will be a large part of the development.
The first reading of the proposal failed to win approval, with five aldermen voting nay.