Crestwood city officials roll the dice to attract new retailers


To attract more potential business to Crestwood, three city officials will try their luck in May when they travel to Las Vegas to attend an international convention of shopping centers.

Crestwood City Administrator Frank Myers told the Call that he will accompany Mayor Roy Robinson and Economic Development Specialist Ellen Dailey to attend one day of this year’s four-day International Council of Shopping Centers, or ICSC, convention, “Breaking New Ground.”

The city administrator said the three are scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on Sunday, May 21, and talk with numerous retail owners and distributors on Monday, May 22, at the convention. The three Crestwood representatives then are scheduled to fly out of Las Vegas the morning of Tuesday, May 23, to report their work at the convention during that evening’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

Myers, who has attended the annual ICSC convention in years past, said the conference has been very instrumental to cities he has previously served to attract more retailers.

With recent struggles at the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood, Myers said he looks at the convention as a starting point to bring more business to Crestwood and is optimistic that the three will be able to strike some deals out of their two-night jaunt to Las Vegas.

“I have attended this conference before, and it was successful using this conference as a vehicle to make some deals,” Myers said. “A lot of deal-making is done at this convention, and we believe in light of some of the issues in Crestwood, we should go out and do our best.”

Because of the city’s $3.5 million in debt and credit expenses and subsequent cutting back of city expenses, Myers said he, Robinson and Dailey opted to attend one day of the convention instead of the full four-day package.

“We’re very sensitive to the city’s financial considerations,” Myers said. “But I also think this is a very critical time involving Westfield. I’m not implying Westfield’s dying, but we need to see what we can bring in, and going to the convention will help.”

Myers estimates that the cost to the city will be at roughly $1,000 apiece in travel expenses for himself, Robinson and Dailey. He said it would cost each of them $500 to register at the convention, $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.

Although city officials were planning to wait until next year to go to the convention, Myers said he believes it was necessary to push the Las Vegas trip ahead one year so that city officials can work now to attract more businesses.

Both Myers and Robinson have said that Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood could be getting a facelift as soon as this year.

Both have said they under the impression that Westfield corporate representatives are scheduled to meet in May and June with the Board of Aldermen to possibly discuss a community improvement district measure, or a one-cent sales tax increase for the mall’s district. This would make it possible for Westfield representatives to make improvements like restructuring Dillard’s, adding new stores and restaurants, building a new stadium-seating movie theater and moving the food court near that theater.

Robinson has also expressed optimism that more sales tax revenue will be generated in the city with the Shop ‘n Save that is scheduled to open this summer in Crestwood.

Besides these possible economic advancements, city officials hope that more possible deals can be struck with the May trip to the ICSC convention.

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. ICSC links with more than 25 national and regional shopping center councils throughout the world.

Regarding the city’s overall financial picture, Myers was also scheduled to present a first-quarter financial review to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday — after the Call went to press. He said this would include revenues and expenditures of each of the city’s funds — general fund, parks and storm water fund and capital improvements fund — and ways that each can do better.