Mayor meets with new owner of mall

Crestwood board votes 6-0 for in-house finance officer

By Gloria Lloyd

Mayor Gregg Roby has met with the new owner of the Crestwood mall site, Chicago-based UrbanStreet Group, but told the Call that the company has given no indication of what it plans for the mall.

“Any movement on the mall?” Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding asked Roby at the June 10 Board of Aldermen meeting.

“None. None whatsoever,” Roby replied.

UrbanStreet, which has successfully opened some developments over the past year in downtown St. Louis, bought the mall at auction in April for $3.65 million.

The state is currently conducting an environmental study on underground tanks that are left from some of the mall businesses, including an auto repair shop at the former Sears site.

The company agreed to allow the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Chamber of Commerce to host its August Route 66 Classic Car Cruise on the mall site at Watson and Sappington roads.

“The owner told us once he had some idea as to what direction he was going to proceed, he’d get back to us,” Roby told the Call. “But now that we’ve arranged for the car cruise to be held there, I wouldn’t expect anything to happen until after that.”

In a separate matter last week, the Board of Aldermen unanimously voted for City Administrator Mark Sime to move forward with hiring a full-time finance officer for the city, instead of contracting out the position to a consultant as Sime had previously proposed.

The board voted 6-0 for Sime to post the position as soon as possible. Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood and Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild were absent from the meeting.

“I definitely agree that we should seek a full-time employee for that position, based on the discussions we’ve had on the board and also the feedback we’ve had from our public,” Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter said.

Sime’s proposal for a consultant to conduct the city’s financial services died for lack of a second at the May 27 meeting, after Sime recommended hiring Hochschild, Bloom & Co., a firm the city once sued for alleged professional negligence and breach of contract. Hochschild settled the lawsuit in 2006 by paying Crestwood $170,000, with no admission of wrongdoing.

Former Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan said she agreed with the board’s decision, but believed it was a waste that Sime spent time posting multiple requests for proposals, or RFPs, for the position in the process.

“I think it’s the right thing to have an in-house finance officer, but I also think the management of the process by the board was not done very well,” she said. “And I also think it’s unfortunate that the two people who are current employees were up in the air for so long — they didn’t know if they were going to have a job or not going to have a job.

“And I think that’s bad management.”