Board to reconsider selection of Centrum as mall developer

Aldermen wants work session with Crestwood Court owners

By Kari Williams

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen will reconsider a resolution to select a developer for Crestwood Court’s redevelopment after approving a motion made by Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen.

Centrum Properties, the owner of Crestwood Court with Angelo, Gordon & Co., submitted the only development proposal, and was rejected as the developer with a 5-3 vote Oct. 9.

Tennessen, one of the aldermen who voted against selecting Centrum, made the motion last week to reconsider the resolution. Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan seconded the motion, which was approved 6-2. Ward 3 Aldermen Jerry Miguel and Paul Duchild were opposed.

City Attorney Rob Golterman said the resolution, or an amended resolution, could could be considered in three weeks at the board’s Nov. 13 meeting or postponed to a later date if the board is not prepared to reconsider at that time.

Tennessen told the board he also would like to have a work session with Centrum officials to discuss the redevelopment proposal.

Duncan said she envisions the work session involving the “interested parties” and sharing information.

“I would like to see (Lindbergh Schools’) information and be able to share that because they are a major stakeholder,” Duncan said.

Jim Mello of Armstrong and Teasdale, an attorney for Centrum, attended the Oct. 23 meeting and told the board a motion to reconsider the proposal would keep the request for proposals, or RFP, process alive and provide an opportunity for work sessions where the board could discuss if it wants to amend the resolution.

“I think the misconception that I’m hearing from board members is that there was an offer, like we were putting in an offer on a car …,” Mello said. “It was our proposal, which we fully expected to negotiate, discuss, explain, answer questions, explain why certain costs are in and certain costs are not in and then have that changed around and reflected in a proposal that hopefully the city would accept.”

Centrum’s $102 million redevelopment seeks roughly $26.6 million in economic assistance, including tax-increment financing, or TIF, and a transportation development district and community improvement district, each with a 1-percent sales tax.

Preliminary plans presented to the board in June indicate the mall, tentatively called the District at Crestwood, will include a cinema, an upscale bowling concept and restaurants.

Centrum, according to Mello, is not submitting documents “where (the parties involved) sign a contract saying, ‘Take it or leave it.'” A motion to reconsider the Oct. 7 vote, Mello said, would preserve what Centrum has done regarding the RFP process and having the town-hall meeting in October. He also said TIF process is its own review process with a six-month window.

“It’s not like (we’re) trying to bum rush the process,” Mello said, “but trying to recognize, I think we could explore this a little more with your consultants and us in a work session where we can try to walk through the TIF process in a little bit more detail …”

Ward 4 Alderman John Foote said part of the resolution states if board member concerns are not resolved, “the city has the right to walk.”

“This is not a commitment to Centrum,” Foote said. “This is merely an agreement to review the proposal and at no point are we giving Centrum a blank check.”

Former Ward 3 Alderman Gregg Roby told the board he believes the developer should have been considered on a “conditional situation” Oct. 7, and the board should reconsider Centrum as a developer and “move forward” with negotiations.

Former Ward 4 Alderman Deborah Beezley told the board listening to applause during discussions of “the positive regeneration of the Crestwood mall effort” at the town-hall meeting indicated the community wants the mall.

“We can continue to be pennywise and pound foolish and not do what we need to do as a community, or we can do something really great and bring this community back,” Beezley said.

Mayor Jeff Schlink told the board though there was applause at the town-hall meeting, he did not reach the conclusion the applause was for all aspects of the mall redevelopment that were discussed, which included public financing.

“I do agree, and I think most people agree that something needs to be done with the mall property,” Schlink said.

Schlink also told the board he believes there is “a lot of confusion and a lot of emotion wrapped up in the development.”

“I expect that there’ll be additional conversations on the topic,” he said. “There already have been additional conversations on the topic, and we look forward to working with the developers and seeing what sort of compromise can be met.”