Crestwood’s longtime planner PGAV withdraws services for mall proposal

PGAV vice president notes aldermen’s ‘divergent views’

By Gloria Lloyd

A day after confusion arose among Crestwood officials over whether Centrum Properties had withdrawn its redevelopment proposal for the Crestwood Court site, the city’s longtime planner also withdrew from the redevelopment of the former mall.

Centrum, the mall’s owner along with Angelo, Gordon & Co., had proposed an open-air entertainment and retail venue with restaurants, a movie theater, an upscale bowling venue and retail shops.

Centrum has requested public subsidies for the $121 million redevelopment project, including $26.6 million in tax-increment financing, or TIF.

The PGAV planning study is a precursor to sending the redevelopment project to the St. Louis County TIF Commission.

PGAV previously performed a preliminary analysis of Centrum’s proposal.

At its July 23 meeting, the Crestwood Board of Aldermen rejected the $29,000 PGAV study for the third time, following previous denials in December and June.

PGAV withdrew its proposal the next day, however, writing to Mayor Jeff Schlink that it does not want to be associated with any more negative votes against the redevelopment project. At each PGAV rejection, board members who voted against the study noted they did not vote against PGAV, but were instead registering their discontent with Centrum’s proposal.

Despite those statements, PGAV, which consults nationwide and has been Crestwood’s planning consultant since 1982, did not like its association with repeated rejections by the board.

In a letter to Schlink, PGAV Vice President John Brancaglione wrote, “Each time the name of our firm comes up in the context of a negative vote, we believe it can be publicly construed that something about our organization is the issue.

“We believe this is not true, but I’ve had emails and phone calls that suggest it can be perceived negatively. Therefore, based on what I believe to be the board’s lack of understanding of the processes associated with redevelopment of a major property of this sort and our desire to no longer be the subject of ‘no’ votes at your meetings, we are formally withdrawing our proposal to assist the city.”

Brancaglione’s letter also noted the “divergent views” of aldermen regarding the redevelopment of the mall property.

“It seems to us that there are firm opinions by members of the board about many aspects of this property and the processes associated with achieving redevelopment of this large and topographically challenged site,” he wrote. “Based on meetings we have attended and newspaper accounts — to the extent that they are accurate — it is clear to us that many of the board’s opinions and premises for action — or lack of it — on this project are not based on factual information.

“We have attempted to dispel and correct much of this thinking without success.”

Last week, Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach made a motion for the PGAV study to be considered again, this time asking the planner to review ideas aldermen brought up in their July 9 work session.

The motion failed 5-3, with Wallach, Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding and Ward 4 Alderman Daniel Tennessen voting for the study. Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter, who was first elected in April and voted to move forward with the PGAV study in June, voted “no” so that she could bring the study back up for a vote.

A rejected ordinance can only be reconsidered if it is changed or if someone who rejected it brings it back, which is why no one formally placed the planner on the July 23 agenda in advance, Rob Golterman said in his last meeting as city attorney.