Aldermen OK pact with G.J. Grewe Inc. to redevelop part of Crestwood Square

Grewe unsure if Applebee’s will stay at shopping center

By BURKE WASSON

To redevelop part of the Crestwood Square Shopping Center into a hardware store and an indoor playground, the city’s Board of Aldermen approved a preliminary financing agreement to receive $50,000 from developer G.J. Grewe Inc.

Aldermen voted 7-0 to accept the payment to cover technical support and legal expenses to establish a community-improvement district at the shopping center. Ward 2 Alderman Jim Kelleher was absent from the Oct. 10 meeting.

Gary Grewe of G.J. Grewe Inc. said he is projecting an “aggressive” timeline for the project at Crestwood Square, which is the site of the long-closed Sports Authority, and added that he would like to have the businesses open by February. Businesses already slated to come to the location are Kansas City-based Westlake Ace Hardware and the children’s indoor playground center Monkey Joe’s.

“We’ve put the preliminary construction numbers in there for a hardware store and a Monkey Joe’s,” Grewe said to the board. “When you guys approve the preliminary funding agreement tonight and the aggressive schedule that I want you to consider, you’re going to be bringing a hardware store back to Crestwood. The hardware store is Westlake Ace Hardware. They’re based out of Kansas City. It’s a big chain. We don’t have Ace Hardwares like this in St. Louis. This is a 30,000-square-foot store.”

As for the shopping center’s existing businesses, Grewe said he is unsure whether Applebee’s will remain and added that the restaurant’s owners previously were considering a move to Kirkwood.

“Applebee’s to date is undecided if they’re going to stay or go,” Grewe said. “You guys can look at your sales-tax records. Their sales have continued to decline here forever and ever. They have a short period of time left on their lease. We’ve approached them, ‘Will you stay? Will you go?’ They don’t know. They want to see what’s going to happen to the rest of the shopping center. Then they’re going to make their decision.

“They were negotiating on the Chili’s location in Kirkwood once upon a time and, fortunately for Crestwood, got beat out in price. There are opportunities down there. We want to naturally keep them here. And by improving this and bringing some retail synergy back into this shopping center, we’ll get their sales back up and everybody will be happy,” Grewe added.

He also said his company currently has a proposal to obtain the Worldwide Children’s Museum that previously was located at the Westfield Shoppingtown West County, but also added that “half of St. Louis” is also trying to acquire the museum.

Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland also requested that when city officials develop a board for the CID at Crestwood Square, they remember Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel’s comments about having a wider variety of aldermen on those tax-incentive boards.

Pickel previously said he would like to see more aldermen on such boards because board President Jerry Miguel of Ward 3 currently serves on the majority of them.

“I would assume that the community-improvement district would have a board,” Bland said. “At this time, I would just make the suggestion that we kind of remember what we said two weeks ago and that we start taking a look at how we make those boards up.”

Mayor Roy Robinson said while he would support any alderman on a tax-incentive board, he asked them to remember that these boards meet most often during the day and that aldermen with full-time jobs might not be available when needed.

“I’m for any of you sitting on these boards if that’s what you’re going to propose,” Robinson said. “The thing about it is we don’t do these board meetings at night. If you have a full-time job, it would be hard for you to be able to attend these meetings as they are scheduled. And when you do develop, remember that because the process doesn’t stop just for one person …

“The process continues on. So if you do do it, make sure you know who’s going to be involved. And if you appoint board members, make sure that those board members can make meetings. This is not a ‘We’ll have it whenever we decide. We’ll do it on a Saturday morning.’ We don’t do those on Saturday mornings. We do those during the week. So just remember that.”