At the Dec. 20 Manchester Board of Aldermen meeting, Manchester residents wanted answers about why an old Chili's restaurant has stood vacant on a prime stretch of Manchester Road for over five years. An early victim of the poor economy, the building is located at 14445 Manchester Road near a busy Dierbergs and Kohl's.
The restaurant, once a Black Eyed Pea's in the 90s, was shuttered by a corporate decision to tidy up its portfolio, according to Franz Kraintz, Manchester's Director of Economic Development. He said Tilted Kilt, a Celtic themed sports pub, once looked at the vacant building a few years ago, but decided to locate its first St. Louis area restaurant in Arnold instead.
Chili's still has seven locations in the metro area, but none in Manchester or Town and Country. Kraintz said the chain has even looked into reopening a restaurant in the Manchester Highlands shopping complex, located a mile to the east of the old location. However the chain decided to wait to make any move due to the economy, Kraintz explained.
Kraintz said the old building is still under a lease agreement with Chili's and the property owner, which makes it complicated to bring in a new restaurant.
Developer Pace Properties currently has the property listed for sublease.
An obsolete Wolf Camera photo shop, which stood in front of the restaurant and partially blocked it from the view of Manchester Road, was demolished at the insistence of the city in September, according to Kraintz. It has been replaced with a clean stretch of asphalt.
Manchester residents also said at that Dec. 20 board of aldermen meeting they want Kraintz to push to get some type of sit-down restaurant in the Manchester Highlands shopping complex. Kraintz acknowledged the request, but said at this time there is no restaurant set to move in there.
"There's a fine line in what we can do to help," said Kraintz of the city's role in bringing new shops to Manchester. He said the city tries to help commercial property owners, but generally the city only gets involved in prospecting for new businesses for larger development projects, like Manchester Highlands.
He said when the city gets involved in redevelopment the first thing commercial property owners say is "what can you give me?" He said the city has been approached by commercial property owners who want a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district placed around a single retail building.
"One little parcel can't get a TIF," Kraintz explained.
On the Horizon:
- Manchester will donate 1 percent of its street lighting budget to the Municipal League of St. Louis County to fight Ameren's proposed rate increase on street lights. Most lights are billed on a flat rate, without metering usage, according to the league.
- Whole Foods Market in Town and Country is trying to attract stay at home parents by offering a free "kid's club" to watch children so parents shop child free. The service is available on Fridays in January from 10:30am to 12:30.