Cherokee Street Pushes Back Against Yet Another South St. Louis Dollar Store

Categories: Bidness

nebulametg.jpg
Cara Spencer
Business owners meet to discuss the Dollar General store moving into their neighborhood.
Cherokee Street business owners say they want developers to stop plans for a $2 million Dollar General store slated to replace the Hoods Discount Home Store that closed last year.

The Cherokee Street Business Association held an emergency meeting Tuesday night when members heard through the grapevine that Dollar General had its eye on the Jefferson Avenue storefront just north of Cherokee. The group overwhelmingly voted to oppose the development -- the largest in the business district in decades -- or to at least put it on hold until neighbors have their say.

"These are small business owners, we don't have a lot of large retail that is formula based, like a Dollar General," says Cara Spencer, a member of the business district and a staff member at Nebula Coworking. "People do not particularly want this in their neighborhood. They want to know the details of it."

See also: Southern Living Names Cherokee Street "Next Great Neighborhood"

Residents were frustrated that Ninth Ward alderman Ken Ortman has known for a month that Dollar General was eyeing the south-city spot, which borders on four St. Louis neighborhoods: Benton Park, Benton Park West, Gravois Park and Marine Villa. The business district only found out when a Marine Villa resident told organizers and the Benton Park Neighborhood Association passed along a copy of the plans.

dollargeneralplan.jpg
via
The plans for Dollar General.
"As the largest development project within the CSBA in decades, we feel the association should have been informed within a reasonable time of receiving the plans and been given an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal," the group announced via Cherokee Street News.

Ortman tells KTVI (Channel 2) he was waiting until he had more information to inform neighborhood organizations and the business district.

Even if a different, more local business had wanted to buy the building, they couldn't have. When Hoods moved out of 3300 S. Jefferson Avenue, Cherokee Street developer and the owner of Nebula, Jason Deem, researched how much it would take to buy the large building, but he couldn't find any information, Spencer tells Daily RFT.

"It never actually hit the open market," Spencer says. "It may very well be that [Dollar General] ends up being the best use because of the price of the property, I don't know. But it didn't hit the open market. It didn't have a chance to have a local developer come in and see if there was interest."

Spencer says developers are applying "a false sense of urgency" on officials and neighbors to support the dollar store.

"To be supportive of the first project that comes through is a little short-sighted," Spencer says. "Once they get in there, it's a really big commitment to support such a big development that is known for hurting small businesses and not giving back to your community."

Besides, does the neighborhood really need yet another dollar store?

"This is not going to be the last time a Dollar General, a Dollar Tree or whatever is going to be interest in in capitalizing on our community," Spencer says. "This is not the last opportunity."

Update: Here's the letter of opposition from the Cherokee Street Business Association:

Letter of Opposition to the proposed development at 3300 S Jefferson by Lindsay Toler

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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45 comments
markie19
markie19 topcommenter


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cameron
cameron

The gentry is getting up in arms. When a business that actually could possibly cater to those outside of their bullshit, they cry fowl and use anti-corporate rhetoric to justify the fact that really just don't want Cherokee to be a place where the economic disparity that is everywhere exists. 


I don't really care about small businesses or big businesses, they all do the same thing: they sell me shit. Tho I'd rather have cheap stores that some whiskey bar or some over priced pizza place. 

cameron
cameron

The gentry is getting up in arms. When a business that actually could possibly cater to those outside of their bullshit, they cry fowl and use anti-corporate rhetoric to justify the fact that really just don't want Cherokee to be a place where the economic disparity that exists everywhere to be seen. 


I don't really care about small businesses or big businesses, they all do the same thing: they sell me shit. Tho I'd rather have cheap stores that some whiskey bar or some over priced pizza place. 


Mikey Bones
Mikey Bones

I just have to assume Mike Johnson is a crackhead because no one ever try to sell me crack and I love in the neighborhood.

Rebecca Bolte
Rebecca Bolte

You clearly have not been here in the last 10 years.

jodie whitworth
jodie whitworth

I'll take a Dollar General in the Bevo Mill neighborhood! I'd much rather see a business, more people employed & more people spending money in my neighborhood, than see another abandoned building. But I guess I'm not that picky....

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

They love the free market until competition arrives.

Frank Carlson
Frank Carlson

The vote at the meeting was like 30-4 against the Dollar Store. My personal impression is that Alderman Ortmann does not seem to care what we think. He knew about this for some time. CSBA found out only 2 weeks ago; maybe too late to have an effect. That's how I see it.

Drew Somervell
Drew Somervell

Maggie Nunyabidniz, you are an idiot. Lmao. Laurell Stevenson, aim higher. Dollar General sucks to work for and they pay poverty wages. We need a business there that will attract people to the area instead of another corporate chain that fleeces the community and does nothing to make it a better place to be.

removeyourpants
removeyourpants

As someone who lives very close to this location, I've got major love for the small business aesthetic of Cherokee St. With that being said, I think there is an attitude from some folks who think that this neighborhood should only consist of what they want. Keep in mind the demographic - there are a lot of people without cars who need very basic supplies to live. Also, folks are absolutely insane if they think a small business will ever take over that huge spot. Furthermore, any business that provides jobs is better than no business at all. 


Also keep in mind that while yeah, there ARE a lot of dollar-ish stores in the neighborhood, there's a reason for that. People are buying from them. People like them. Maybe you don't like them. Maybe I don't like them. But we don't represent everyone who lives in the neighborhood. 


Another positive to this investment - if a brand new Dollar General opens, and it's big and shiny and sparkly, it might drive that Family Dollar across the street out of business, and since the location of the Family Dollar is pretty small, it might open up a venue for a smaller business to come in.



David Lee Smithson
David Lee Smithson

What sort of businesses do people propose to attract the community that had, and does still live there? It certainly isn't the whiskey holes, organic food, or bars obsessed with irony that is going to engage the prior community. People need the products these stores offer. If you're mad about it, really mad, go into competition with them and see your store turn into a replica because it's cost efficient.

Maggie Nunyabidniz
Maggie Nunyabidniz

i'm 55 years old and ALL my life Cherokee St. has been nothing BUT hookers and drugs, not just on the corners, but all up and down it. lmao!!

Mike Johnson
Mike Johnson

I was getting some mortar mix from clemens. Decided to take cherokee to broadway to get to lemay. Blacks trying to flag people down dress like hood rats. Was that you Yinka. You do fit the description...lmao...

Angie Stamme
Angie Stamme

Maybe Dollar General wants to open this store and close one of their other stores that is near. The proposed store is bigger and has a bigger parking lot than soms of the other dollar stores around there. In the city, I wouldn't complain that someone wants to invest millions in one of those down trotted neighborhoods. They need the investment.

Michelle Mrgn-Brriel
Michelle Mrgn-Brriel

They have non-existent security and try to use our police as their loss prevention agents. Unless they hire police working secondary, they end up costing taxpayers.

Robert A. West
Robert A. West

"Residents were frustrated that Ninth Ward alderman Ken Ortman has known for a month that Dollar General was eyeing the south-city spot, which borders on four St. Louis neighborhoods: Benton Park, Benton Park West, Gravois Park and Marine Villa. The business district only found out when a Marine Villa resident told organizers and the Benton Park Neighborhood Association passed along a copy of the plans." Sounds like it's time for a new alderman in the ninth

Carrie Sleep
Carrie Sleep

So.... what business would you like to see there that is INTERESTED in completing the needed work and improvements on the building? This is my neighborhood area and I will likely be shopping at what ever business opens. I walk to the Family Dollar on Jefferson as well as the many wonderful business on Cherokee St. on the way there. This location has the potential for great impact positive or negative to 4 neighborhoods in addition to the CSBA.

LaTonya Ann
LaTonya Ann

There's plenty already opened in that area. No need for another.

Annette Pentecost
Annette Pentecost

They say no now but I bet all of them will end up shopping there.

William Carney
William Carney

Family dollar is a rip off. Crap products at a premium price. Get out of my neighborhood

Yinka Oduyemi
Yinka Oduyemi

Mike Johnson were you the customer????? Unfair assumption, right???

David Wohldmann
David Wohldmann

Hey Mike, how do you know they were selling crack? Could it be they were just hanging out?

Laurell Stevenson
Laurell Stevenson

I'm sorry but what does too black dudes selling crack have to do with anything?

Brian Bradley
Brian Bradley

The last thing South City needs is another Dollar General or Family Dollar.

Mike Johnson
Mike Johnson

Lmao I drove 2 blocks onto Cherokee yesterday..and black dudes on 2 corners trying to sell crack.. another neighborhood they can keep..

David Antwon
David Antwon

Both Dollar General and Family Dollar can suck it!

Nikita Sparkle LeeBomb
Nikita Sparkle LeeBomb

they are already on Jefferson ave within a... what... 3 mile run? One on Gravois/ jeff. and one right north of 44.... why another?

James McKee
James McKee

kudos to the author for correctly acknowledging the names of the neighborhoods!

Mary Evelyn Decker
Mary Evelyn Decker

to be honest, I moved n the city like 4 months ago.. and YES they have plenty of these store up here already..

suebritt
suebritt

@removeyourpants And perhaps, unlike all the newbie hipster joints, they will hire people who actually live in the neighborhood, instead of suburban transplants.

random_insults09
random_insults09

@removeyourpants There's a save-a-lot directly across the street down like 2 blocks. Saying that people might "need" this kind of store is sort of a farce. I'd much rather see it turned into a respectable grocery store that keeps its asparagus in water and has a proper butcher section. Literally anything else could be put there and I'd be more ok with it than a dollar store. Hell, i'd love it if they opened a jimmy johns there!

josh.restivo
josh.restivo

How terribly enlightening Maggie. We might not otherwise have known that parts of South City have struggled with crime over the past half century.

optinstl
optinstl

Mike how do you know they were selling crack?  Did they flag you down?  Did you stop and talk to them? Did you buy some? Drug dealers don't normally try to flag people down LOL You are hilarious.  Maybe they were day labourers trying to get some construction work? If you think all black men look like crack dealers I think that is your problem.  Are you as good at spotting white skinned crack dealers? I think the "rat" on Cherokee that day had a red neck.

josh.restivo
josh.restivo

I think this is a great point and one the City needs to address with any large retailer whose has caused similar issues with their other stores. Hold up their permits until they've agreed to address the securty problem. Surely someone can pull reports from the PD for calls to the other nearby locations and, assuming they validate the concern, use them as ammunition for the discussions. Last thing the area needs is another bad neighbor.


One other major issue that I see with these stores and which I don't see mentioned here is that, and bear with me here, they sell cheap junk. There are some major brands mixed in but it's mostly just dirt-cheap china-sourced crap. I see some people claiming that these stores help those with little money and/or without transportation. Taking money from low-income households in exchange for spaghetti strainers and bath towels that might last a few months and which may or may not contain dangerous chemicals due to lack of manufacturing standards and cheap-as-we-can-possibly-make-it design is *not* assistance but exploitation. 


It also further promotes the unsustainable 'disposable' approach that Americans have adopted WRT consumer goods. That area of the city needs another Dollar store like it needs a hole in the head. In fact, another Dollar store may prove to be a hole in its' head.

josh.restivo
josh.restivo

Sounds like it's time for a reality check.  The actual hard details, specific to the store's proposal, contained in this article consist of a rendering of an existing structure with the words 'Dollar General' on it and a totally unsubstantiated "$2 Million" figure.


The fact that this type of conjecture passes as reporting is sad. The fact that people would automatically assume, based on this story and/or neighborhood rumors, that they've been deceived by their government is more depressing still.


I'd dealt with Ken on many occasions in the past when I lived in that area. There's no doubt that he knew that the idea would sink like a $1 ship when presented to the neighborhood. Put yourself in his position. If you knew that this was going to be a sensitive issue, you'd also know that people would be demanding details. As an alderperson, would you present every half-baked idea floated by a developer before getting a handle on the situation? 


Also realize that these developers aren't stupid. They know that these stores are often unpopular with certain demographics. They're going to keep everything as close to the vest as possible for as long as possible in order to avoid as much static as possible. Even as an alderperson, you're likely to encounter difficulty getting the answers that you'd need in order to accurately inform your constituents.

bill.streeter
bill.streeter

I personally don't have a problem with Dollar General moving in there if the choice is between that and a vacant building--and that seems to be the consensus of most of the other Cherokee business owners I've spoken with. We don't think it's the worst use of that space, it just doesn't seem to be the best use. I would prefer that we didn't have yet another Dollar store in the area especially on such a high profile lot. But, the issue here, I think, is the fact that no other developer who might have put it to better use never had the opportunity to consider it. 

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