Michael Calhoun (Twitter: @michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)By Michael Calhoun

ELLISVILLE (KMOX) – Walmart’s out.

“We have decided not to proceed with our involvement in the Ellisville development,” Erica Jones, Walmart Senior Manager of Communications, told KMOX News on Saturday. “We did all that was required of us to formally advance our project.”

Mayor Adam Paul said city officials were notified verbally late Friday that Walmart had decided to pull out of plans to anchor the development by Sansone Group on Manchester Rd. west of Clarkson Rd.

Word was circulating to apartment complex owners on Saturday.

The supercenter would’ve replaced those apartments, as well as some other businesses and one closed car dealership, but a series of shuttered dealerships at the busy intersection would’ve remained intact.

Walmart attorneys appeared in front of the City Council two weeks ago, vowing to press forward despite not being granted an extension they’d requested on a conditional use permit.

Jones reaffirmed that belief to KMOX on Tuesday.

That permit required Sansone to commence construction by last Thursday, September 5th. On that afternoon, orange netting was wrapped around the site of a closed car dealership and some tree branches and shrubs were cut down in the parking lot. But several owners of apartment buildings, which the bulk of the development should replace, had yet to agree to sell. Some, instead, have been making improvements to their property.

The tax breaks especially had a vocal contingent of the community really riled up.

Mayor Paul, late Thursday, told KMOX News that he believed a majority of City Council members would vote at a special meeting next week to cancel the city’s redevelopment agreement for the project, including $11 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, incentives.

For more than a year, the proposed project has driven a wedge through the heart of the sleepy west county community.

Mayor Paul and his supporters claimed that his impeachment (later reversed by a judge) was a result of his opposition to the Walmart, while City Council members at the time said he was being removed for a variety of charter violations, including inappropriately contacting a relocation agent for residents to be displaced by the store.

Last April’s election changed the tide on the City Council, with members just last week voting to deny the aforementioned permit extension. They voted earlier this summer to relieve City Attorney Paul Martin of his duties, citing both the Walmart and his role in the impeachment. Last week, councilmen also voted to remove Martin as City Prosecutor and to fire City Manager Kevin Bookout.

Check back later for more on this developing story.


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