Citizens need to show support for mall redevelopment, reader says

To the editor:

Crestwood was once a vibrant, bustling example of modern American living.

It can be again. No, tearing down a mall does not promise to restore our suburb to what it once was. However, it does offer opportunity to move forward. “Suburbs” as we know them, are dying all over the United States. This is not my opinion — unfortunately, this is a statistical fact.

We as a community must show true desire and interest for renewal if we ever hope to see life breathed back into Crestwood’s blighted retail and commercial scene.

I personally spoke to Mr. Bob Burk, of UrbanStreet Group, about a comprehensive “city-within-a-city” plan approach to the former Crestwood Plaza site. Having lived and worked in other thriving metropolitan areas, I personally experienced the benefits of an “urbanized-suburb” concept and witnessed it not only turn communities around, rather they flourished.

Aside from my own experience, there are countless examples throughout America. The current redevelopment plan is merely a starting point to lure tenants and gain momentum for redevelopment. However, history has left investors and potential large tenants feeling too shy to commit.

Redesigning the site with more density than is currently illustrated can offer more opportunity for residential-sales development.

This can be achieved by involving local builders and developers, which Mr. Burk said he is not opposed to working with at all.

Allowing more room for single-family residences and multifamily housing could offset the tax-increment financing, or TIF, burden to Lindbergh Schools. New, taxpaying residents who are purchasing homes equal revenue for Crestwood and Lindbergh Schools, still leaving room for TIF incentives to help fund site prep and the larger scale of the project.

Mr. Burk’s response to my suggestion was, “I agree, but similar markets’ success had community support. You have to get your community behind the idea for something like that to ever work.”

I couldn’t agree more. Being an inner-ring St. Louis suburb, Crestwood has much to offer. However, we have to create draw to our community if we ever hope for anyone to notice. Devising a better plan to meet the needs of our aging population and the demands of Millennials, we have promise for sustainability and healthy growth. Showing support for redevelopment is step No. 1.

When I tell other local St. Louisians we live in Crestwood, they immediately respond: Why?

Isn’t it time we, as a community, answer that question?