Crestwood sued by NAACP for use of tax incentives for mall redevelopment

The+former+Crestwood+Plaza+property+Feb.+18.

Photo by Lucas Irizarry

The former Crestwood Plaza property Feb. 18.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The city of Crestwood is being sued by the St. Louis County NAACP and its president for the use of tax increment financing, or TIF, to redevelop the former Crestwood Mall site. 

The city said in a press release Wednesday that the local NAACP chapter and President John Bowman had filed a lawsuit against the city for its use of TIF to redevelop the old mall property. 

The 47-acre site is being redeveloped into “Crestwood Crossing,” which will be a mix of retail space, anchored by a Dierbergs grocery store, and an 81-home McBride Home subdivision. The tax incentives only apply to the Dierbergs portion of the property — McBride did not ask for incentives — in the form of $13.5 million in TIF and a 40-year, 1-percent community improvement district, or CID, sales tax. 

The lawsuit, which was filed in St. Louis County court April 26, comes exactly a week to the day after Dierbergs broke ground on the property April 19. The lawsuit claims that the city did not hold the necessary public hearings on the tax incentives in violation of state law. 

Dierbergs had originally planned to seek its own TIF but withdrew that request in July 2021 and decided instead to use part of the $15 million in incentives the city approved in 2016 for the site for a prior developer, UrbanStreet Group. Dierbergs and McBride purchased the property from UrbanStreet in January. 

“We are concerned that the NAACP is engaging in a politically-motivated stunt to try and halt the much-needed redevelopment of the former Crestwood Mall site,” Mayor Grant Mabie stated in the press release. “The lawsuit is completely frivolous. We are not deterred from proceeding, and we are confident we will ultimately prevail on the merits.” 

According to the lawsuit, the NAACP feels the use of TIF and other incentives can better be used to address food deserts elsewhere in the county. 

“The City of Crestwood agrees with the NAACP on this point, and encourages jurisdictions with authority to take such steps. However, Crestwood cannot use TIF to address that issue in areas outside its boundaries, and the redevelopment of Crestwood’s local mall site has nothing to do with addressing food deserts elsewhere,” the press release stated. 

The mall site was last occupied in 2013 and the mall itself was demolished in 2016. Since then, the site has seen several different development proposals, all coming up short.