City waits for retail tenants to be revealed for mall site

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood residents and city officials are anxiously waiting for the developer of the city’s former mall property to announce retail tenants for the 48-acre site at Watson and Sappington roads.

Demolition is continuing at the former Crestwood Plaza site to make way for Chicago-based UrbanStreet Group’s $104.3 million mixed-use redevelopment project that could in-clude a large retail facility, dine-in restaurants, an office building and a 225-unit apartment complex.

While city officials do not know at this point exactly what UrbanStreet will put at the mall site, some of them expect “some high-end, luxury residences and luxury, high-end retail and things of that nature,” as Board of Aldermen President Grant Mabie of Ward 3 said last summer.

But Mayor Gregg Roby is less optimistic. He said in October, “The only thing that we know that’s going to happen at that mall site is that those buildings are going to get demolished. Beyond that, we have absolutely no guarantee that the world isn’t going to come to an end and that development’s going to come to a halt …”

In response to a question about potential tenants for the project, City Administrator Kris Simpson said last week, “No, we do not have any information from the developer. I spoke with Pam Wucher (of UrbanStreet), probably been about two weeks now, and she mentioned that they were getting close to making announcements, but they don’t have anything yet …”

Quite frankly, we’re baffled about why it’s taking so long to announce tenants for the project.

As readers may recall, Bob Burk, UrbanStreet managing partner, insisted last December that no commitments from potential tenants could be secured until economic assistance was granted for the project.

In March, aldermen approved Urban-Street’s request for $25 million in tax incentives — $15 million in tax-increment financing assistance or a Chapter 353 tax abatement; $5 million in Community Improvement District funds; and $5 million in Transportation Development District funds.

Seven months later, no tenants have been announced. That’s disappointing because Burk more than once said he is not in the “fantasy business.”

Neither are we. Like everyone else, we certainly hope the redevelopment project will be a success. In the meantime, we’ll join residents and city officials in anxiously waiting for retail tenants to become a reality at the site.