Those who back Centrum must be a little confused

By Mike Anthony

We believe supporters of Centrum Partners’ proposal to redevelop Crestwood Court into an open-air entertainment complex must be a little confused.

After all, Sol Barket of Centrum Partners told city officials last month that he had contacted several local developers who indicated they had no interest in redeveloping the mall site.

In a Nov. 14 email to Mayor Jeff Schlink, Barket wrote, “Let me just add that we have gone to several local developers over the past several weeks including Pace, Grewe, Capitol Land, etc. to see if they might want to join forces and re (sic) capitalize the venture or simply buy us out.

“All of them had the same response. Given the city’s reluctance to provide public assistance, it is impossible to make anything work on the site and until there are new people on the board that are pro-development and not anti-subsidy, they will not go near it.”

But at the Dec. 10 Board of Aldermen meeting, a representative of Crestwood-based developer G.J. Grewe said Barket’s comment was “completely untrue.”

“We’re very much in favor of the redevelopment of that mall and working with the city of Crestwood,” said Bill Appelbaum of G.J. Grewe.

Furthermore, Barket’s characterization of the Crestwood board as “anti-subsidy” isn’t exactly accurate.

He came to the city with his hand out, requesting economic assistance totaling roughly $34 million to redevelop the mall and saying he couldn’t obtain any commitments from businesses until he had the economic assistance in hand.

But that’s not how it works.

Typically, a developer comes with letters of intent from businesses and evidence of financing for the project.

Given that, it’s disconcerting to see the parade of former elected officials — including former Ward 3 Alderman Gregg Roby and and former Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan — appear at meeting after meeting to lambaste elected officials about how they’ve handled city affairs, including Centrum’s proposal for the mall.

We believe Mayor Jeff Schlink and aldermen should be applauded for not caving in and handing over the economic assistance to Centrum.

Quite frankly, we believe Crestwood dodged a bullet. Therefore, we can only conclude that those who remain critical of Schlink and other elected officials who wouldn’t cave to Centrum’s demands may have some type of ulterior motive.

Time will tell.

Editor’s note: This column has been corrected to reflect the correct ward Gregg Roby served as an alderman.