Crestwood board delays selection of special counsel for mall project

Presentation by mall owner now planned for late March

By Kari Williams

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen last week voted 6-2 to postpone selection of special and bond counsel for the Crestwood Court redevelopment project until its March 13 meeting.

Centrum Properties and Angelo, Gordon and Co. purchased Crestwood Court in 2008 with the intent of redevelopment.

Centrum’s plans to redevelop the mall at Watson and Sappington roads have been on hold due to the economy.

City Administrator Petree Eastman presented the board with her recommendation of Gilmore & Bell for special and bond counsel services, but said she would not oppose waiting to select an attorney.

“I’m prepared to make a recommendation today, but I’d be happy to defer it until we do have a proposal from Centrum,” Eastman said at the Feb. 28 Board of Aldermen meeting.

The original request for proposals, or RFP, was issued in December but re-issued with a Jan. 18 deadline. The city administrator said the same two law firms, Gilmore & Bell and Thompson Coburn, submitted proposals.

Eastman said she would like to have counsel on board for the project up front, despite not expecting to receive an official proposal from Centrum for an extended length of time.

The city administrator does not believe Centrum will present information to the board until the end of March — later than initially expected.

“We were originally told it was going to be in two weeks, and now it’s the end of the month,” Eastman said. “It could be another month. I don’t know.”

Ward 2 Alderman Steven Knarr said his concern with selecting counsel is that the date of the informal presentation from Centrum Properties is tentative and already changed once.

“Do we need to lock ourselves into a date at this point since we’re basing all this on the proposition that they’re going to make a proposal to us?” Knarr said.

City Attorney Rob Golterman said the item can be placed on the agenda and tabled or postponed if necessary.

When Centrum representatives make their presentation to the city and the board, Eastman said it will be informal. Before Centrum Properties can officially submit a proposal, an RFP has to be issued for the project, according to Eastman.

“Under the TIF (tax-increment financing) rules, it’s my understanding that despite the fact that the owner of the mall is the developer, we will still need to put out an RFP for that project under the redevelopment laws,” Eastman said. “So even though they are going to be the only ones that respond to the RFP, we have to go through that legal technicality, and we will need assistance in developing that.”

Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel made a motion to postpone appointment of special and bond counsel to a future meeting.

But Ward 4 Alderman Deborah Beezley amended Miguel’s motion to include a specific date — March 13 — for the issue to come back to the board.

Miguel, Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach and Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild voted against Beezley’s amendment to Miguel’s original motion.

The amendment to the motion was approved 5-3, allowing the board to vote on the amended motion, which put selection of special and bond counsel on the March 13 agenda.

Duchild and Wallach voted against the amended motion.

Duchild said he would like to hear the proposal from the developers before approving counsel for the project.