Crestwood city officials make headway at Las Vegas retailers convention

Mayor Robinson hospitalized, unable to attend

By BURKE WASSON

With Mayor Roy Robinson hospitalized with pneumonia at the Call’s press time and unable to attend an international retailers convention in Las Vegas, Nev., City Administrator Frank Myers said Monday he believes there was still substantial progress made to attract more retail business to Crestwood.

Myers and Economic Development Specialist Ellen Dailey attended the 2006 International Council of Shopping Centers convention “Breaking New Ground” on Monday. Robinson also was scheduled to join them, but could not travel due to the hospitalization.

In a Monday afternoon telephone interview from Las Vegas, Myers said he and Dailey were making headway with their two goals of the convention — formulating plans for the future of the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood and attracting additional retailers to the city as a whole.

One result that sprang out of Monday morning talks with Westfield Corp. officials was an agreement for Westfield representatives to likely come to Crestwood in July for a Board of Aldermen meeting.

“We had a very valuable meeting with several Westfield executives,” Myers said.

“We did have some very candid discussions about the future of the property — its strengths and its weaknesses and where we need to go. We agreed, obviously, much of that information is sensitive. And we’re respecting Westfield’s desire that we keep that confidential.

“They have agreed to attend a council meeting to address the council and community on that property and what they are willing to share. So we are going to be working on setting that up.”

Now that California-based Somera Capital Management has backed out of plans to purchase the Crestwood mall from Westfield, Myers said city officials are aggressively working with Westfield officials to improve the mall.

Besides plans to revive the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood, Myers said that he and Dailey had met with several retail restaurant businesses that are interested in coming to Crestwood.

“We’re meeting with a number of restaurant retailers,” Myers said Monday. “I’ve supplied information to two of those type of retailers this morning and had brief, brief meetings with them. One that’s presently not in the St. Louis market but is looking to come to the St. Louis market place.

“I will tell you we are meeting today with a prominent restaurant that is already located in the St. Louis area and looking to have serious interest in locating to our general area.”

Myers and Dailey were scheduled to share their work at the convention with the Board of Aldermen at its Tuesday night meeting — after the Call went to press.

While he said he would characterize the Las Vegas convention as “very, very valuable” for Crestwood’s economic growth, Myers said he cannot yet identify any of the potential retail businesses that could come to Crestwood.

“The problem with mentioning retailers’ specific names is the retail industry is very sensitive about their name being released,” Myers said. “When we start doing that, there’s an expectation created that A — they’re coming and B — they start getting calls. And we don’t want to do that to them.”

Westfield representatives said last summer in a news release that the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood would benefit from a “redevelopment plan which will integrate fresh new lifestyle and entertainment elements with the existing quality retailers at the center.” That same release included an announcement by Westfield and AMC Entertainment Inc. officials of plans for a new megaplex AMC Theater to be built at the front of the shopping center near Watson Road.

Even with Robinson’s inability to attend, the convention will still cost the city roughly $3,000 because Robinson’s travel arrangements were non-transferable.

These expenses included a $500-per-person convention registration fee, $248 per person for round-trip plane tickets and $109 per night for the three to stay two nights in hotel rooms. Those registration, plane and lodging expenses for the trip total $2,898.

The ICSC works as a global trade association of the shopping center industry and has 57,000 members in the U.S., Canada and more than 80 other countries. Membership includes shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, lenders, retailers and other professionals as well as academics and public officials.