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

Plans could be finalized to develop two empty lots at Big Bend Crossing

‘No’ vote previously delayed Crestwood board’s approval of measure

Plans to develop two empty lots at Big Bend Crossing could be finalized this week by Crestwood aldermen.

The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to consider two conditional-use permits Tuesday night — after the Call went to press — approving the construction of a medical office on Lot 1 and a retail shopping center on Lot 3. At a special meeting last week, aldermen voted 6-0 to adopt an ordinance changing the use on Lot 1 from a mixture of medical and retail to strictly medical.

Board President Jerry Miguel of Ward 3, who delayed the approval of the use change by voting “no” for a second reading of that ordinance on Feb. 13, and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder were absent. Nieder had abstained from a roll-call vote for a second reading on Feb. 13.

The Feb. 22 special meeting was called because Miguel’s “no” vote on Feb. 13 prevented Metropolitan Urological Specialists from closing on a contract to purchase Lot 3 from the Novus Development Co. Metropolitan Urological, which also owns Lot 1, was originally set to close on Feb. 15. But after receiving a 10-day extension from Novus President Jonathan Browne, Metropolitan Urological’s proposal again was considered by aldermen.

Last fall, aldermen unanimously amended the city’s original contract with Novus to ensure that Lot 1 could have medical use added to its original designation of retail stores, restaurants or a hotel.

Miguel has said he voted “no” because he is concerned that changing the use on Lot 1 from medical/retail to strictly medical will deny the city roughly $100,000 per year in sales-tax revenue that he estimates could be collected on Lot 1.

The board president said he reached that $100,000 annual sales-tax estimate by taking sales-tax estimates calculated by Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets, Inc. for the once-proposed MainStreet at Sunset shopping center in Sunset Hills and applying them to Big Bend Crossing.

That decision to relocate the retail component originally proposed as part of the medical facility on Lot 1 was made by Hensley Construction to save money.

The cost of purchasing and developing retail on Lot 3 in addition to developing the medical facility on Lot 1 actually is “about $10 million cheaper” than it would have cost to construct the mixed medical/retail center on Lot 1, according to Metropolitan Urological attorney Brad Cytron.

Patrick Hensley of Hensley Construction said this is due to his company no longer being required to construct a two-floor, concrete parking garage on Lot 1 that would have been necessary for both medical and retail use.

Cytron also indicated to aldermen that the developers would be willing to delay construction on the medical facility until work has begun on the retail project proposed on Lot 3.

Big Bend Crossing, a $20 million project spread across 17 acres southwest of Big Bend Boulevard and Interstate 44, has been a source of controversy since Novus sued the city in 2002.

Browne sued after the Board of Alder-men rejected his request to approve First Community Credit Union on Lot 3 of Big Bend Crossing.

Like Miguel did on Feb. 13, aldermen in 2002 rejected that request because of a potential loss of sales-tax revenue that would result in filling a lot with non-retail use.

But most aldermen last week were in favor of approving the development of non-retail medical on Lot 1 as long as retail was in place on Lot 3.

Three aldermen — Ward 2 Alderman Jim Kelleher, Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel and Ward 3 Alderman Gregg Roby — and Mayor Roy Robinson asked Miguel to re-consider his “no” vote at the Feb. 13 meeting.

Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding told Cytron on Feb. 13 he believes that because the developers have taken an active interest in wanting to construct both lots, they should be granted the authority to do so.

“I think that you guys should be commended for wanting to police yourself,” Breeding said to the developers. “If you understand what he’s saying here, he’s saying: ‘Put the restrictions on ourselves to make sure we guarantee that we’re going to build this building we have.’ That’s what you’re saying, correct?”

“That’s correct,” Cytron said. “And the whole purpose of doing this is so we can get the retail done. We actually want to build the retail. And the doctors that are involved in this, you know, they like the real-estate development aspect of this. There’s good tax-rate development real estate. And the problem was just the cost of doing it on Lot 1 is so expensive that, quite frankly, buying land on Lot 3, we’ve lowered … the project’s actually a much more cost-effective development.”

“I find this refreshing that you’re coming here with an idea to develop Lot 3,” Breeding said. “And promising we’ll give you this and promise we’re going to build this. This is momentum where there’s been zero momentum for years … My other question goes back to the very beginning of this whole deal. Did you go to Jonathan Browne and Novus or did they come to you?”

“We went to them,” Cytron said.

“That’s what I thought,” Breeding said. “So you’ve been driving this whole thing. And I think, once again, you’re to be commended. And your track records are here. … So whatever we can do to speed this along, we’ve got something here that is very promising compared to the last how-many years of empty promises.”

Miguel, however, told Cytron on Feb. 13 that he is worried that by approving Metropolitan Urological’s proposed uses on Lot 1 and Lot 3, the city would be sacrificing sales-tax revenue that its leaders envisioned in the late 1990s.

“This project as originally envisioned back in 1998 or 2000, and you’re probably aware of this, it was originally envisioned as an extended-stay (hotel) on this Lot 1 and a sit-down, only sit-down, restaurant on Lot 3,” Miguel said to Cytron. “And I mean, both of those would provide substantial sales-tax revenues to the city, as I’m sure you can appreciate.”

Because the project would add sales-tax and property-tax revenue on two lots that have long been vacant, Pickel said he supports the project because it would add business to the city.

“We’re not losing any retail that we had proposed in previous generations of this ordinance,” Pickel said. “I don’t think it’s fair necessarily to compare this development to something that another builder’s doing in another area because I think there probably are some inherent challenges topographically, if that’s the right word, with this particular project. I also do not think it’s fair to compare the sales-tax perspective of this development to a proposed development in Sunset Hills that died and is an entirely different beast.”

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