Owner of Crestwood Court determined to revamp mall

Centrum to seek input about project from residents.

By EVAN YOUNG

No official announcement yet, but Crestwood Court’s owner said recently it still is determined to turn the mall into a “first-class development.”

In a Feb. 15 letter to Mayor Roy Robinson, Vic Pildes, vice president of Crestwood Court owner Centrum Properties, wrote the company remains committed to “revitalizing and redeveloping” the property and that its “dedication to Crestwood has not wavered.”

“Our team has been working diligently since we purchased the facility to create a redevelopment plan that Crestwood citizens can be proud of and one that will also serve as an economic engine for the city,” Pildes wrote. “Although we are not prepared to make any formal announcements at this time, we remain confident that we will be able to introduce strong retail, entertainment and cultural venues to the area with this project.

“Please know that as soon as information becomes available, we will be sharing it with you and the other city leaders.”

Centrum Properties and Angelo, Gordon & Co. bought the mall from the Westfield Group in March 2008 for $17.5 million, according to St. Louis County records.

While officials have since talked in general terms of what a redeveloped Crestwood Court might look like, Centrum last May estimated it will take a “full two to three years” to complete the project because of the economic recession.

Pildes reiterated that point in his letter.

“The economy and retail markets changed dramatically after we purchased the property in 2008,” he wrote, “so the process has taken longer than we planned.”

City officials are banking on a redevelopment to bring back what once was Crestwood’s prime sales-tax revenue generator.

Currently many of the mall’s retail spaces are vacant, and only one anchor store, Sears, remains open after Macy’s closed its doors in April 2009, taking with it hundreds of thousands of dollars in expected sales-tax revenues for the city. Another anchor store, Dillard’s, closed in 2007.

In late 2008, Crestwood Court teamed up with the Regional Arts Commission and began leasing some of the mall’s empty spaces as part of ArtSpace, a community for local artists, musicians and performing artists.

ArtSpace won a MAXI award from the International Council of Shopping Centers last year for public relations, and officials have said the initiative will play a “critical” role in the mall’s redevelopment.

Pildes expressed his appreciation to the city “for its support as we navigate through this process. When we are prepared to present our plan, we look forward to working in partnership with the city to bring it to fruition.”

He also indicated Centrum would seek input on the project from the public.

“All of us share the common goal of seeing Crestwood Court transformed into a regional shopping and entertainment destination that the citizens of Crestwood can be proud to have in their community,” he wrote.