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St. Louis gives businesses different deadlines to move from NGA site

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio
Adrienne Harris runs an adult day-care center out of the home her mother left her at 2525 Benton St. She said the city's Sept. 4 deadline for her to move is not enough time.

This story was updated at 4 p.m. Aug. 23 with new comments from St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams.

The head of the St. Louis Development Corporation said he will work to keep a business that must move to make way for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's new campus, in business.

SLDC executive director Otis Williams told St. Louis Public Radio on Tuesday that he wants to see Adrienne Harris' adult day care successfully moved into a new building. 

"We'll give her whatever time so that she doesn't lose customers," Williams said.

SLDC also helped find a contractor to work on Harris' new building, according to Williams. He said both he and the contractor were surprised to hear Harris gave the state notice that she would be closing the facility.

"She needs to call the state back," Williams said.

He said SLDC will work with Harris to get through both the city permitting process and the state's licensing for her new facility.

St. Louis Public Radio was not able to reach Harris late Tuesday afternoon.

Our original story 

Adrienne Harris’ adult day-care center must move by Sept. 4.

Iron Trojan Works has until Oct. 4.

Faultless Healthcare Linen has until sometime in the spring of 2017.

These are just a handful of businesses within the 99-acre footprint of what will become the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility. Yet the city of St. Louis is giving very different departure dates for those businesses.

Harris’ day care for senior citizens is located at 2525 Benton St., in a home that her mother left to her. While Harris has bought a new building, she said it needs too much work to be ready by next month. She’ll also need to apply for a new state license, which can take six months or longer.

So Harris and her granddaughter met on Friday with St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams, to ask for an extension. They left the meeting without a guarantee.

"All we’re asking for is to get this building open, so that her business can continue and she doesn’t have to be afraid whether she has a place to live or has any money," Robinson said. "This is her entire savings and retirement."

Williams told St. Louis Public Radio he would talk with the project management team about what they can do for Harris.

"She poured her heart out, so I’m sympathetic to making everybody whole, but within some parameters," he said.

When asked about Faultless Healthcare Linen’s deadline, Williams said the facility would get eight to nine months for its move. He said the city is working with the company to help design and build another location.

"Faultless employs 150, 160 people, so it’s a huge undertaking to move that facility," Williams said, "but, also, to ensure that because of the service they provide to the hospitals and clinics that they don’t have any downtime. So it’s a completely different situation."

Williams said Faultless’ location near the edge of the NGA site also helps.

"Part of the complication here is that we have to get the site ready, and part of that is to take the utilities out. You can more easily adjust on the utility services if it’s near an adjacent grid as opposed to being in the middle," he said.

Iron Trojan Works, a family-owned fabricating steel business, is just up the street from Faultless on North 25th Street. Yet co-owner and president Doug Lowrey said they’ve been told the utilities will be cut off on Oct. 4.

"We’re just so close to Faultless, it seems they could hold off," Lowrey said.

The company’s attorneys are working with the city to see if they can get a bit more time. Lowrey said they’re close to buying another building from the city, but it will take a few months to make the needed renovations.

"We’d like until November," he said.

As for Adrienne Harris, she’s given up on the smooth transition she said city officials promised for her business. On Monday, she gave the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services the 21-day notice it requires before a facility closes.

Now she’s just asking the city to give her an extension until Sept. 12.

"I can’t go on possibilities," Harris explained. "I’m already late in reporting to the state, and I might not be able to open another day care if I didn’t abide by the law."

At this point, she said she can only hope the state will expedite the inspection and licensing of her new facility.

Otherwise, she said, she might not be able to hang onto her business.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.