Jessica Belle Kramer
Crestwood received two submissions in response to its request for redevelopment proposals of the former Crestwood Plaza mall site, which has struggled to find a developer since closing seven years ago. And City Administrator Kris Simpson said he believes that the proposal the city is looking for could be among the applicants.
The Board of Aldermen will be examining the proposals in multiple closed sessions, with no timeline on when to choose a proposal.
The proposals cannot be shared publicly due to the sensitivity of real-estate negotiations, said Simpson, but he did share some details with The Call.
One of the submissions is for only part of the site, while the other is a mixed-use proposal for the full site. One of the proposals is from a “known name that I think anybody in the St. Louis area has heard of,” and when asked if Simpson sees a proposal among the two submitted that could be the large-scale redevelopment plan the city has been hoping for, he said, “I do.”
The city’s request for proposals was issued June 19 and gave 60 days to submit a detailed redevelopment proposal. The city had heard from 15 to 20 companies that were interested in submitting an RFP, and Simpson said that it’s possible the city could entertain those plans in the future, although the two who submitted by the deadline will be given preference.
City staff are reviewing the proposals for completeness, and preparing a recommendation based on the criteria specified in the request for proposals, which includes proof of financing capable to finish the project and how much the developer will ask in tax incentives.
“We’ve learned from the past,” Simpson said about asking for more information upfront to make sure projects are viable.
Although there’s no shortage of ideas on how to redevelop the mall, there does seem to a be shortage so far of those who can actually do it.
“There’s plenty of people with great ideas, going on any social media thread you’ll see people throw out hundreds of ideas — how many of those ideas can actually get financing from a bank to actually make that project a reality?” Simpson asked. “I think everybody is tired of the delays, the slowness of development, and one of the things that’s contributed to that is that prior projects weren’t able to get totally off the ground for various reasons. … We’re looking for somebody real and that’s ready to move some dirt.”
Although the city had strict requirements to vet companies’ ability to finish the project, the RFP did not place limits on what those proposals could be.
“We were intentionally very broad because we wanted to cast a broad net to see: What is the entire universe of workable ideas at this site for this point in time?” Simpson said.
The last time the city asked for redevelopment plans, mall site owner UrbanStreet Group was the only respondent. It has dropped its proposal, as has Creve Coeur-based Walpert Properties, which a few months ago dropped its proposal for the mall site due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
The city wanted to be proactive in choosing a redevelopment plan so that it would have some leverage with UrbanStreet, which wouldn’t have to sell to the developer chosen by the city, but would have some incentive to come to an agreement since the city has jurisdiction over zoning and tax incentives that could be needed for the property.
“The City is excited that developers showed an interest in helping us achieve our goal of redeveloping the former mall site,” said Mayor Grant Mabie in a news release. “We look forward to reviewing these proposals in detail and selecting a project to move forward.”