Crestwood aldermen to consider final OK of new retail center pact

Board to weigh final approval of measure to buy dump truck; City should be hearing shortly from mall owners, mayor says.

By EVAN YOUNG

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen will consider final approval next week of an ordinance authorizing a new development agreement for the Sappington Square retail center.

Aldermen voted 4-3 last week to approve the first reading of the ordinance, with Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach and Ward 3 Aldermen Paul Duchild and Jerry Miguel opposed.

Following the vote, Miguel called a point of order and contended the measure was unsuccessful because it did not receive five affirmative votes. City Attorney Rob Golterman replied that five yes votes are required only when an ordinance is up for final passage.

Wallach voted against a motion to read the bill a second time, and the measure was declared held over to next week’s meeting.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, at the Government Center, 1 Detjen Drive.

Mayor Jeff Schlink said last week he likely will recommend at Tuesday’s meeting someone to serve in his vacant Ward 2 aldermanic seat. The board can accept or reject his appointment and, if the latter, recommend someone of its choosing per the Crestwood Charter.

In either case, the new alderman could be sworn in the same evening and vote on the development agreement.

At issue is the future of a community improvement district, or CID, at Sappington Square, located along Watson Road.

Some aldermen do not want the city to enter into a new development agreement with the property owner Pulaski Bank, its subsidiary and the CID.

The board has debated at length whether the CID — along with the 1-percent sales tax levied on purchases made there to reimburse certain costs to the developer — should be discontinued.

The board rejected a proposed agreement last year for the retail center, which Pulaski Bank purchased at public auction in late 2009 after the previous developer defaulted on a loan it obtained from the bank to develop the property.

Pulaski Bank attorney Kevin King has said the bank wants to fill the vacant lots at Sappington Square as quickly as possible and eventually sell the property to a new owner.

A new development agreement would help that effort because the bank could use CID proceeds to “incentivize” prospective Sappington Square tenants with lower rent, King has said.

Aldermen deadlocked 4-4 last month on whether to move forward with the new development agreement. Now-former Mayor Roy Robinson broke the tie at the April 12 meeting to direct the city attorney to draft the ordinance.

The revised development agreement includes four changes from the one rejected last fall:

• All references to eminent domain were removed. Some board members took issue with Pulaski Bank being able to seek eminent domain from the city to obtain cross-access from Sappington Square to Schnucks. Under the new proposal, if the bank can’t obtain cross-access in good faith, the matter will be considered closed unless later addressed by the city.

• The amount of reimbursable project costs from CID sales-tax proceeds to the developer was reduced to $1.75 million from the original $2.5 million.

• The CID term was reduced to 15 years from the date Crestwood and Pulaski Bank sign the new development agreement. The term initially was 20 years.

• A new provision requires Sappington Square to either obtain a 50-percent occupancy rate in sales-tax generating retailers for at least one day or generate $5 million in retail sales over one year. If neither requirement is met within five years of the new agreement’s implementation, the 1-percent sales tax will be repealed within 72 months of the new agreement.

Some aldermen have said the concessions made by Pulaski Bank in the revised development agreement aren’t satisfactory, but Golterman last week characterized the proposal as the “final version.”

“The agreement stands as it stands,” he said.

In other business last week, the Board of Aldermen:

• Voted 5-2 to approve the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the purchase of a one-ton dump truck for $32,148 from Dave Sinclair Ford through the state’s bidding program.

The vehicle, a 2011 Ford F-350 with a one-ton chassis and dump body, would replace the city’s park maintenance dump truck, a one-ton 1997 Ford F-350 with 41,200 miles.

“While the mileage is low, the vehicle has significantly exceeded its expected life (seven to 10 years) and is scheduled for replacement,” wrote Jim Eckrich, acting city administrator and director of public services, in a memo to the mayor and board. “There are currently no major deficiencies with the truck. However, we would expect regular maintenance problems to occur in the future with any truck in excess of 14 years of age.”

Wallach and Duchild opposed the measure. They suggested, as did Miguel, that the city postpone the purchase and reserve the funds, citing a lack of maintenance issues and low mileage with the current dump truck.

But Ward 4 Alderman John Foote said the new truck was a “excellent bargain” that may not be around in the future.

“We need to face the facts,” Foote said. “This city has to have its assets. We cannot continue to delay purchasing the assets. Sooner or later we’re going to find ourselves with nothing that works very well …”

The board will consider final approval of the ordinance Tuesday as Miguel opposed a motion for its second reading last week.

• Voted unanimously to approve the purchase of an air compressor from Roland Machinery Co. for $14,683.

• Voted unanimously to approve a budget amendment to reflect two grants awarded to the Police Department.

One grant, a 2011 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant of $9,000 with a 10-percent city match, will be used toward the replacement of three notebook computers in marked police cars. The other grant, a Bulletproof Vest Program grant of $3,550, will be used toward the purchase of body-armor vests.

In addition, Schlink reported last week that he met with Crestwood Court owner Centrum Properties two days after being sworn in as the city’s mayor.

He said the Crestwood Court owners are “very excited” about a potential redevelopment of the property, which Centrum purchased from the Westfield Group in March 2008.

“They did indicate in the meeting that we would be hearing from them in short order, but no date was given,” Schlink said. “But based off of some of the ideas and conversations that took place it gave me the appearance that this is something that they’re certainly looking at closely and that they’re actively looking at it and that … we should be hearing from them shortly.”