Board to consider selecting counsel for redevelopment of Crestwood mall

Administrator to update board on development of pay plan

By Kari Williams

The proposed redevelopment of Crestwood Court will show some signs of life at this week’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

City Administrator Petree Eastman plans to recommend the board approve Gilmore & Bell as special and bond counsel for the redevelopment project, according to information she provided to aldermen.

The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

Under future issues, Tuesday’s agenda also states the board is scheduled to hear an “informal presentation” about the Crestwood Court redevelopment project when it meets March 13.

Gilmore & Bell and Thompson Coburn submitted proposals to the city to serve as special and bond counsel.

In her city administrator’s report, Eastman wrote that Gilmore & Bell has the most experience with redevelopment projects in St. Louis County and also has a lower compensation rate. City Attorney Rob Golterman agrees with the selection of Gilmore & Bell, according to Eastman.

The city administrator stated Thompson Coburn’s rates are not capped, as was believed, and the hourly fees were “significantly higher” than what Gilmore & Bell presented.

“In speaking with Ms. (Deborah) Rush, it was clear that the total amount proposed does not preclude Thompson Coburn from coming back to the city for additional funds once the upper limit of fees has been met,” Eastman wrote.

Centrum Properties and Angelo, Gordon & Co. bought Crestwood Court from the Westfield Group in March 2008 with the goal of redeveloping it, but their plans have been on hold due to the economy.

In November, owners of Crestwood Court announced they anticipate the long-awaited redevelopment of the shopping center at Watson and Sappington roads will begin sometime this year. Crestwood Court is situated on roughly 49 acres and features about 1.1 million square feet of retail space.

Many of the Crestwood Court’s retail spaces are vacant, and the mall’s only remaining store, Sears, will close sometime this year, though a specific date has yet to be announced.

Macy’s closed its doors in April 2009, taking with it hundreds of thousands of dollars in expected sales-tax revenues for the city. Another anchor store, Dillard’s, closed in 2007.

Also on Tuesday, Eastman plans to update the board on the status of an employee pay plan. A committee with representation from all departments is compiling comparisons between Crestwood’s peer cities and other nearby cities. Peer cities include: Brentwood, Ellisville and Kirkwood, among others.

From the collected data, a classification system will be developed and a report provided to the Ways and Means Committee, according to Eastman’s report.

“We will ask the Ways and Means Committee to make recommendations to the Board of Aldermen as to a compensation policy such as, ‘The goal of the pay plan is to increase employee salaries over X number of years so that Crestwood’s salaries are at least average among peer cities by job type,'” Eastman wrote.

The plan, according to the city administrator’s report, will be merit based with a cost-of-living adjustment factor.

“An adjustment relating to increased cost of living will also be added to ensure the merit system is not diminished,” Eastman wrote. “It will be a component so that employees who are performing as expected, but not at an exceptional level, can keep up with inflation.”

Eastman projects the pay plan will not be completed until mid to late March.