O'Fallon Progress

Commerce Center moves closer to approval

New I-64 Reider Road interchange could bring jobs to O’Fallon

When the I-64 Reider Road interchange was announced in 2014, it’s estimated completion was July 2017. After multiple delays, the near $37-million project could be ready as soon as Friday, IDOT announced.
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When the I-64 Reider Road interchange was announced in 2014, it’s estimated completion was July 2017. After multiple delays, the near $37-million project could be ready as soon as Friday, IDOT announced.

The highly anticipated Mid America Commerce Center around Interstate 64’s Rieder Road (Exit 21) is now officially moving forward through city channels. The O’Fallon City Council could advance one of the largest industrial, logistics and light manufacturing developments for the area at its meeting Monday.

TriStar Property, which developed the distribution park Gateway Commerce Center in Pontoon Beach and Edwardsville, is interested in more than 200 acres north of the interstate, on the northwest corner of Exit 21 and Shiloh Valley Township Road. It is east of Illinois 158 and across from Scott Air Force Base and Mid-America Airport.

Applicant Bobby Klucker of TriStar is seeking approval for a 166.59-acre light industrial warehouse development, which is located within a larger 200-acre tract subject to an annexation agreement with the city, with the remaining 34 acres to be zoned and developed later.

The development includes eight proposed lots, ranging from 15.54 acres to 26.33 acres. The warehouses proposed on the lots range in size from 190,000 square feet (4.36 acres) to 323,750 square feet (7.43 acres). The site includes public streets providing a loop through the development off Shiloh Valley Township Road, with the potential for a future connection to Rieder Road.

“We are looking forward to this going forward through our Planning Commission and the City Council. This development can be a significant plus for our community in many ways,” Mayor Herb Roach said.

The 200-acre site is currently located in St. Clair County, but the city approved an annexation agreement Feb. 4. This allows the city to review and zone the parcels for the proposed Mid America Commerce Center and the developer to only annex a portion of the ground associated with a project.

The project is also located in the overfly path of airplanes taking off and landing at MidAmerica Airport. Because of this result, there are several conditions and restrictions on the development to make sure it is compatible with Scott AFB and the airport. It must meet the criteria of the Airport Overlay Ordinance and continue to meet those standards during the project development.

A public hearing on the proposal for the planned use rezoning from Agricultural Industry District (St. Clair County) to Planned Industrial District (O’Fallon) and a preliminary plat for large warehouse and office buildings is scheduled for the Planning Commission Tuesday night.

With the meeting moved because of the Memorial Day holiday, the Community Development Committee will review it Tuesday night as well. If advanced to the council’s agenda and approved on first reading, the adoption vote could be June 17.

It is subject to the conditions stated in the staff report. The Community Development staff has recommended approval, but would like to see variances to the street section to allow for a 38-foot wide street with an 8-foot shoulder and ditches; to allow the sidewalk requirement to be fulfilled by the 8-foot shoulder; and to allow the trailer parking areas to remove the required landscape island every 20 parking spaces.

All recommendations of the traffic study shall be incorporated in the approval of the Mid America Commerce Center and it must be approved by St. Clair County Department of Roads and Bridges.

Roach said early conceptual plans call for over 1.5 million square feet of construction in Phase 1. During the past few months, city staff and officials have been working with landowners, other taxing bodies and a developer to clear all hurdles so development and economic incentives could happen.

Grant Litteken, assistant city administrator, said construction of a sewer system to service the area and designing a master plan with the developer are being worked on by the city.

The mayor said running the sewer line down Rieder Road will open 1,500 acres for development.

“We believe that the time to capitalize is now. The development of this began in earnest after we received a very positive recommendation from the (Urban) Land Institute when they did their study of the area for us a little over a year ago,” Roach said.

The study looked at what types of businesses would be ideal for the available land and how the city could market the land to developers. Creating jobs so O’Fallon residents wouldn’t have to travel elsewhere is another consideration.

“In addition to the large amount of jobs and economic impact that this development could create, it has the potential to generate a large amount of property tax for our school districts. It would also diversify O’Fallon’s economy, which will help make the community stable even through the toughest of economic times,” Roach said.

Known as a model of success for industrial development, Madison County’s Gateway Commerce Center includes such major employers as Amazon, Proctor and Gamble, Walgreens, Hershey’s, Unilever, Dial, Save-A-Lot and World-Wide Technologies. Started in 1998, nearly 6,000 people work there. It generates $6 million in property tax for schools and other taxing bodies, and it has an economic impact of more than $1.3 billion. In addition, it generates approximately $6 million in property tax for the area’s school districts and other taxing bodies.

Preliminary scenarios calculate TriStar’s phase one development could generate more than $5 million in property tax for O’Fallon’s school districts over a 20-year period, Roach said.

The project would not only benefit O’Fallon but other taxing bodies as well. Earlier this year, the O’Fallon school districts, city, St. Clair County and O’Fallon Township formed a partnership to help make this area competitive on a national scale, creating a property tax incentive program that will help attract long-term investment and job creation to the area.

The council approved an amendment to the Mid-America Enterprise Zone allowing for a 10-year property tax abatement within the boundaries of the zone that includes portions of O’Fallon, Shiloh, Lebanon, Mascoutah, and unincorporated St. Clair County.

The tax abatement is voluntary for taxing districts to approve for their specific tax levies, so each taxing district must approve this abatement separately. School District 90 approved it March 19 and School District 203 approved it March 21. On April 1, the council authorized the mayor to sign an intergovernmental agreement with school districts 90 and 203 for the Mid-America Enterprise Zone.

An Enterprise Zone is a state program that provides incentives to commercial and industrial users for job creation and investment. The incentives would allow the Mid America Commerce Center to be competitive with other developments in the St. Louis region and surrounding trade areas, including Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville and Indianapolis.

Tax abatements will be in areas not previously in the city limits, so the abatements will be minimal to the city property tax revenues. In the long term, new developments will significantly increase Estimated Assessed Valuation and property tax revenues.

O’Fallon growth on Interstate 64 and the HSHS-St. Elizabeth’s Medical Campus, along with the continual growth of Scott Air Force Base, has galvanized O’Fallon’s future for the good, Roach said.

“O’Fallon has been fortunate with many opportunities. Good location, great schools, and a trained workforce, to name a few. By leveraging the opportunities given, O’Fallon has become a story of success,” he said.

While the city has worked diligently on preparation the past year, really, the plans were in the works long before that, starting with the Illinois Department of Transportation building the Rieder Road interchange, which was completed in 2017.

Previously, there was a bridge there, but did not have a highway entry or exit. Construction began in 2014 for the new interchange, which now provides access to U.S. 50 and east O’Fallon as an alternative to Air Mobility Drive and North Green Mount Road. It opened access to I-64 for residents of the rural areas around Rieder Road and provided another route to MidAmerica Airport and the DISA Global Operations Command Center.

The exit is 21 miles from downtown St. Louis.