South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

PGAV to discuss proposed redevelopment of Crestwood mall at work session

Mayor asks planning panel members, EDC members to attend work session

Representatives of the city’s planner for the proposed redevelopment of the Crestwood mall will discuss the shopping center during a Board of Aldermen work session planned later this week.

The work session will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, in the aldermanic chambers at the Government Center, 1 Detjen Drive.

The Board of Aldermen voted last month to adopt an ordinance approving a $73,000 agreement with Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, or PGAV, to serve as the city’s planning services consultant for the proposed redevelopment of the former Crestwood Plaza shopping center.

PGAV Vice President John Brancaglione and other representatives from the firm will discuss a variety of topics related to the proposed redevelopment project, including:

• The results of PGAV’s detailed field evaluation of the property conditions.

• Identifying how the costs associated with redevelopment projects in general, and specifically with the mall, impact physical and economic feasibility of redevelopment.

• How these conditions and factors relate to the way in which blight is defined in the state’s Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act, also called the Tax-Increment Financing, or TIF, Act.

• Providing a time line of how the process of implementing would be conducted and the various major steps involved.

PGAV representatives also will discuss current legislation being proposed and its potential impact on existing TIF statutes.

Mayor Gregg Roby asked the board to meet for the work session. He also has asked the city’s Planning and Zoning and Economic Development commissions to attend.

Besides approving the pact with PGAV last month, aldermen adopted an ordinance approving a preliminary agreement between the city and Crestwood Missouri Partners LLC, a subsidiary of Chicago developer UrbanStreet Group, which owns the 1.5-million-square-foot, 47-acre mall property at Watson and Sappington roads.

The funding agreement with Crestwood Missouri Partners LLC will provide Crestwood with $45,000 to defray the city’s costs associated with the potential redevelopment of the mall. PGAV’s services could cost up to $73,000. Of that amount, $61,000 would be a fixed-fee amount, while $12,000 would be an hourly cap amount.

UrbanStreet purchased the mall property from Chicago-based Centrum Partners and New York-based Angelo, Gordon & Co., which owned the majority stake in the site.

Centrum and Angelo, Gordon bought the mall in 2008 for $17.5 million from Westfield Group, which bought it in 1998 from Hycel Properties for $106.4 million.

Centrum and Angelo, Gordon put the mall property up for sale on the auction website

this spring and UrbanStreet submitted a high bid of $3.65 million. St. Louis County property records show the sale price was $2.625 million.

In September, Roby told the Economic Development Commission that UrbanStreet Group was getting close to presenting a proposal to city officials, perhaps before the end of the year. But at the Dec. 9 meeting at which the agreements with PGAV and Crestwood Missouri Partners LLC were approved, City Administrator Mark Sime told aldermen, “… We are still approximately four to five months out from having a proposal to review and approve.”

Roby told the Call last week that while UrbanStreet is working to develop a proposal, the timetable is uncertain.

“… It’s a very, very difficult target to nail down,” he said. “I think everybody’s had the feeling that if you’re going to spend 3-point-something-million dollars on a piece of property, you want your money to start working for you. You’ve got money tied up in that … I guess the best thing that I can say is there are still a lot of balls in the air. The environmental study is complete and, of course, the report has been sent to UrbanStreet, with regard to any environmental issues.”

The mayor noted the report is voluminous — “hundreds and hundreds of pages.” Besides the environmental report, issues will have to be addressed with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, and “engineering reports and evaluations have to be completed,” he said.

“… It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another issue that someone comes up with … So it’s a very, very detailed, involved process,” Roby added. “There’s just a lot of issues that still need to be worked through …

“We don’t get a lot of information from UrbanStreet, but what we do get is they’re still out working diligently trying to find potential tenants and usages for that property, whether it be residential, medical, institutional, university — whatever. They’re exploring all of their (options).”

While it is undetermined what UrbanStreet will ultimately propose for the site, Roby said, “We throw things out and we hope the developer will be able to find somebody to fill that niche, whether it be residential, whether it be entertainment or commercial. I’d like to see a real strong mix — something that will bring people during the day that would utilize whatever restaurant or theater that would be there, and then when their day is done, then there’s another group that comes in. Maybe they’re night students at some off-site university building and they’ve got night classes and they would say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an hour before my next class. I’m going to run down to the restaurant and grab dinner or grab something to eat.’

“And then maybe we’d have an element of residential, whether they be condos or apartments where young families that both work — they don’t want the maintenance of house or whatever — would say, ‘Let’s move in there because now we can go from there, we can from there right over to the development and we can get our coffee and we can get our dinner or we could get our lunch.’

“And/or if it’s some medical or whatever that’s there — yeah, maybe you’ve got doctors’ offices, so people would have everything within walking distance,” Roby added.

Whatever the future holds for the former Crestwood Plaza, it will not be the mall that it once was — a concept that Roby and many other longtime residents find difficult to grasp.

“I’ve been here since I was 5 years old. I worked at the open-air mall. I worked at the closed mall,” he said. “It was our city. Growing up, we didn’t have to go anywhere else. Everything was all here. We had drug stores. We had grocery stores. We had Sears. We had F.W. Woolworth’s … We had all of that right there in that plaza, so you didn’t have to go anywhere else … Now it’s gone. So what’s happening is people have had to go elsewhere now … and that’s why people want to see stuff come back.”

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