Crestwood aldermen make right decision on Centrum

We believe the Crestwood Board of Aldermen made the right decision last week in rejecting a resolution selecting Centrum Properties as the developer for the redevelopment of Crestwood Court.

Centrum’s $102 million redevelopment proposal would transform the mall into a unique open-air entertainment and retail venue called the District at Crestwood.

The five aldermen — Tim Trueblood and Bob Deutschmann, both of Ward 2; Paul Duchild and Jerry Miguel, both of Ward 3; and Dan Tennessen, of Ward 4 — who voted against the resolution did so for the right reasons.

Perhaps Mayor Jeff Schlink summed it up best when he said that while he is not opposed to the redevelopment or economic assistance, the amount requested — roughly $26.6 million for the first phase — is too much. Of that assistance, roughly $13 million to $14 million would come from tax-increment financing, or TIF, while the remainder would come from a 1-percent sales tax from a transportation development district, or TDD; and 1-percent sales tax from a community improvement district, or CID.

The TDD and CID would raise the sales tax at the development to 10.425 percent. Mayor Schlink and some aldermen were troubled that the sales-tax rate would be greater than 10 percent. It’s no secret that Crestwood’s sales-tax rates already are among the highest in the county.

Perhaps more troubling, however, is Centrum is requesting roughly another $15.3 million in economic assistance — including TIF, TDD and CID — for the second phase of the redevelopment. Details of that second phase, however, are nebulous at best.

Mayor Schlink also said city officials should be concerned how the granting of economic assistance could negatively impact Lindbergh Schools.

Lindbergh Chief Financial Officer Chuck Triplett addressed the board last week, saying school district officials would like to see commitments from Centrum for tenants and private financing. He also noted there’s no guarantee Centrum wouldn’t sell the property after being granted economic assistance to redevelop the site.

Alderman Duchild compared the re-development process to buying a car.

“You don’t take the first offer from the dealer. Some people might, but I don’t, and I think most people don’t,” he said. “I would like to find out what the developer can do with this property without tax subsidies. I think we deserve that much.”

The ball is in Centrum’s court — let’s see what they do with it.