Crestwood aldermen consider CUP for Big Bend Crossing lot

Development proposal calls for mixture of medical, retail

By BURKE WASSON

A mixed medical/retail building at Big Bend Crossing could be one step closer to being developed if Crestwood aldermen approve a conditional-use permit for its construction.

Aldermen were scheduled to consider this matter Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

The Planning and Zoning Commission previously recommended that the conditional-use permit, or CUP, be approved at its Oct. 1 meeting.

Specifically, Hensley Construction, the developer of the project, has requested that the CUP be approved to complete the sale of the property from its current owner, Big Bend Crossing, which is a subsidiary of the Novus Development Co.

Public Works Director Jim Eckrich said that although he believes Hensley Construction’s agreement with Novus has a few other contingencies, aldermen’s approval of the CUP is one of the primary pieces of that pending contract.

“My understanding is that the applicant for the Board of Aldermen meeting has an agreement with Novus to purchase the property conditioned on several different things,” Eckrich said. “One of which is city approval. But it’s my understanding that once those conditions are reached, then the applicant will purchase the parcel from Novus.”

Aldermen already have amended the city’s contract with Novus to ensure that Lot 1, where the medical/retail building will be constructed, is properly zoned for that use. In the city’s original contract with Novus, Lot 1 was designated for retail stores, restaurants or a hotel. The lot now is expected to be occupied by the urology physicians group Metropolitan Urological Specialists and some retail. The developer has not revealed exactly what type of retail might occupy space at the new building.

Big Bend Crossing, a $20 million project spread across 17 acres southwest of Big Bend Boulevard and Interstate 44 that includes a Sam’s Club, has not seen any further development since Novus sued the city in 2002.

Jonathan Browne, the president of Novus and the Big Bend Crossing Redevelopment Corp., filed suit against the city in 2002 after the Board of Aldermen rejected Browne’s request to approve a credit union on Lot 3 of Big Bend Crossing.

Aldermen rejected the First Community Credit Union in 2002 primarily because it would not generate as much sales-tax revenue as other retail stores would.

Board members pointed out at that time that another sales-tax producing business would generate $390,000 over a 10-year period while the credit union would collect $9,000 during that same time.

With that lawsuit still alive, Mayor Roy Robinson has said that city officials have been trying to work out an agreement and is confident that a settlement would be reached in the near future.

“The lawsuit has not been dissolved,” Robinson previously said. “It’s still there, but we’re trying to work with Novus to work out a solution agreeable to both sides.”

In Novus’ lawsuit against Crestwood, the developer seeks a declaratory judgment that the section of its contract with the city in regard to permitted uses within the area is “void and unenforceable.”

The lawsuit states that Novus is asking the court “for an order declaring Section 2 of the development contract as void and unenforceable as an unlawful act of contract zoning and does not prohibit the use of property as a retail store offering financial services to the general public as set forth in the CUP (conditional-use permit) application.”

Novus’ suit contends that a CUP for a credit union would be “within the general use description of ‘retail stores’ under Section 2 of the development contract.”

As proposed, the two-floor medical/retail building on Lot 1 would contain retail on the first floor and medical offices on the second floor.

Economic Development Specialist Ellen Dailey has estimated that based on the property’s expected increase in assessed value once the development is complete, the medical office/retail center on Lot 1 is estimated to generate $23,000 per year in new property-tax revenue and $40,000 per year in sales-tax revenue.