More work needed to make city truly business friendly

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood officials have been working hard in recent years to make the city more business friendly.

But clearly not every city official is on board with that goal, as evidenced at the Aug. 23 Board of Aldermen meeting.

Aldermen voted 6-1 to adopt an ordinance restricting certain types of businesses within 300 feet of existing and future redevelopment areas.

Among the restricted uses are sexually oriented businesses, taverns, liquor stores, pawnshops, payday-loan and car-title loan establishments and thrift and secondhand stores.

Seems pretty reasonable, right?

After all, these same restricted uses were included in the redevelopment plan with UrbanStreet Group of Chicago for the former Crestwood Plaza property. But as originally proposed, the measure would have prohibited automotive parts, accessories or tire stores and automotive repair or sales near redevelopment areas.

That didn’t sit well with Gary Calvert, who spent $400,000 last year to purchase the former Firestone Complete Auto Care at 9415 Watson Road, an outlot at the former mall site.

Calvert opened a Calvert’s Express Auto Service and Tire there, which closed earlier this year. He is in the process of reopening it, he said.

That didn’t appear to matter to board President Grant Mabie of Ward 3, who essentially told Calvert to take a hike.

“… I think with the redevelopment area here or elsewhere, especially here where we’re expecting some high-end, luxury residences and luxury, high-end retail and things of that nature, I think having an automotive repair business start anew in that location and have the sounds of air wrenches drowning out the sounds of commerce and birds chirping is not necessarily the most appropriate thing to do here,” Mabie said. “And I wish Mr. Calvert the best. I wish he makes a lot of money off this property, whether through its sale or through (another) use, but I feel he can do a lot better and I think it’s in the city’s best interest to approve this ordinance as is …”

Wow, what a way to treat someone who has made a $400,000 investment in your city. Calvert is not some fly-by-night business owner, as he has 26 locations throughout the Midwest.

Fortunately for Calvert, not all aldermen shared Mabie’s opinion, as the board voted to amend the ordinance to only prohibit the rental, sales or leasing of automotive vehicles.

While the city has made some strides to become more business friendly, clearly more work needs to be done.