Mall owner provides Crestwood $25,000 more for project

Aldermen vote to table ordinance to employ special, bond counsel for mall redevelopment

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted 5-2 last week to approve an ordinance amending an initial funding agreement with the owner of the former Crestwood Plaza.

The ordinance acknowledges the receipt of an additional $25,000 from Crestwood Missouri Partners LLC, a subsidiary of mall owner UrbanStreet Group of Chicago.

Voting in favor of the ordinance were Ward 1 Aldermen Richard Breeding and Darryl Wallach, Ward 2 Aldermen Mary Stadter and Tim Trueblood and Ward 3 Alderman Bill Boston.

Opposed were Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild and board President Mike Tsichlis of Ward 4. Ward 4 Alderman Mike Vincent was absent from the March 10 meeting.

Aldermen voted in December to approve the initial funding agreement with Crestwood Missouri Partners to help defray the city’s costs associated with the potential redevelopment of the 1.5-million-square-foot, 47-acre mall property at Watson and Sappington roads. Proposals to redevelop the mall were due Monday — after the Call went to press.

Under the initial funding agreement, Crestwood Missouri Partners provided the city with $45,000 to pay for the services of a planning services consultant, Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, or PGAV. The amended agreement adds another $25,000, bringing the total to $70,000.

Aldermen also voted 7-0 to table an ordinance hiring Gilmore & Bell as special counsel and special bond counsel for the mall project. The additional $25,000 will be used by the city to pay the special and bond counsel.

Tabling the measure, Duchild said, would allow aldermen to receive additional information “to make a more informed decision.”

Duchild noted that in a March 4 email that he received on March 8, City Administrator Mark Sime recommended the board hire Gilmore & Bell as special and bond counsel. However, Duchild said he wanted information about the other responses the city received to its request for proposals, or RFP, adding that such information has been requested before by aldermen.

“… I cannot make a decision on this item without all of the information,” Duchild said, asking Sime how many responses the city received.

Noting the city received five proposals, Sime said, “… As we ran the numbers on these, since all proposals were the same — basically the same with the exception of the dollar amounts for the rates — we looked at those and we’re making the recommendation based upon Gilmore & Bell has worked with the city. They have very, very good experience, a lot of experience, and their rate, though it wasn’t the lowest, it was the second lowest, we felt that the experience that they have in this will allow them to do a more efficient job of representing us as a special counsel and will more than make up for the dollars by spending less time on the project than the company with the lowest bid.”

The firms had varying estimates of how many hours they would spend on the project, he said, noting the number of hours submitted by the lowest bidder seemed inordinately low compared to other responses the city received.

Tsichlis noted that he previously had asked to receive RFP responses.

“They’ve been requested in the past for various items. I was hoping to see something here, but we didn’t get that. Can you make sure to provide that for us in the future?” he asked Sime.

The city administrator said yes, adding, “… The reason that I didn’t send them off this time was they were so close. There really wasn’t any difference except for the rates, but we can send them off.”

Trueblood noted that the additional funds the city is receiving from the mall owner will fund the cost of the special and bond counsel.

“So this is not coming out of the city of Crestwood’s pocket,” he said.

But Wallach later noted that while the mall owner is advancing the city the $70,000, Crestwood Missouri Partners will be eligible to recoup some or all of those funds through such tax tools as a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district.

“… Although you say it’s from the owner, but the owner may also request those (funds be reimbursed) in part of the TIF package …,” he said.