South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Centrum OKs environmental survey of mall site

Meeting with Centrum officials productive, Schlink tells board

In a swift turn of events, Centrum Properties has now agreed to allow the state to conduct an environmental survey of the former Crestwood Court site.

At the Aug. 13 Board of Aldermen meeting, Mayor Jeff Schlink said Centrum’s unwillingness to undergo an environmental study on the former mall site made him doubt both the developer’s estimated redevelopment costs and willingness to cooperate with the city.

But three days later, Centrum partner Sol Barket, representative Rebecca Hawkinson and attorney Jim Mello met with Schlink and City Administrator Mark Sime and came to an agreement for the survey, Schlink wrote in an Aug. 20 email to aldermen.

The environmental study could give the developer and the city a more accurate picture of total redevelopment costs, since Centrum’s estimated cost for redevelopment factors in an environmental survey that was not as extensive as Missouri will undertake at the site. As part of the $121 million redevelopment project, Centrum requests public subsidies, including $26.6 million in tax-increment financing.

Barket agreed to the environmental study of the entire former mall site. A representative of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Catherine Jones, was scheduled to give a presentation on “environmental cleanup” to aldermen Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

The first phase of Centrum’s proposed “District at Crestwood” entertainment complex, based on a similar successful development near Chicago, includes a comedy club, an upscale bowling concept and a movie theater around a community plaza.

Centrum is not pursuing the second phase of the proposed redevelopment at this time, which would have included more retail options.

Schlink’s meeting with Centrum officials was productive, the mayor noted.

“My meeting with Mr. Barket and others this past Friday went very well. I was clear with them that I was not representing the board,” he wrote to aldermen. “My objective was to reiterate my strategy to help address concerns from all wanting to conduct their due diligence. It was received very, very well.”

At the Aug. 13 board meeting, Schlink questioned Centrum’s original $121 million estimate of redevelopment costs in light of an email written by former Centrum representative Vic Pildes that Barket forwarded to Schlink. In the email, Pildes said the environmental survey Centrum relied on for its cost estimates was only an “advisory memo to get the city to act.”

The new survey will not be an estimate of remediation, Schlink told the board, but it will give the city and Centrum a better picture of what will be involved in the site’s remediation.

Contacted after the meeting with the city, Hawkinson said that Centrum did not wish to comment. Barket and Schlink are still under a 30-day press moratorium they agreed to uphold.

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