UPDATED: Crestwood board OKs preliminary funding agreement with mall owner

PGAV to serve as city’s planning consultant

When Crestwood Plaza was owned by Centrum and known as Crestwood Court, it hosted arts organizations in a project called ArtSpace. (

When Crestwood Plaza was owned by Centrum and known as Crestwood Court, it hosted arts organizations in a project called ArtSpace. (

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday night to approve a preliminary funding agreement with the owner of the former Crestwood Plaza to help defray costs associated with the potential redevelopment of the mall.

Board members voted 7-1 to adopt an ordinance approving the 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. Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild cast the dissenting vote.

The Board of Aldermen also voted 7-1 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 project.

Duchild cast the dissenting vote.

A preliminary funding agreement with the owner of the former Crestwood Plaza to help defray costs associated with the potential redevelopment of the mall was scheduled to be considered earlier this week by the Crestwood Board of Aldermen.

Besides the preliminary funding agreement with Crestwood Missouri Partners LLC, which owns the former mall site, aldermen were slated to consider a $73,000 agreement with Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, or PGAV, to serve as the city’s planning services consultant for the proposed redevelopment project.

The Board of Aldermen was set to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

In September, Mayor Gregg Roby told the city’s Economic Development Commission that Chicago developer UrbanStreet Group, which owns the 1.5-million-square-foot, 47-acre mall property at Watson and Sappington roads, was getting close to presenting a proposal to city officials, perhaps before the end of the year.

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.

As proposed, the funding agreement with Crestwood Missouri Partners LLC, a subsidiary of UrbanStreet Group, would provide Crestwood with $45,000 “to be used as preliminary funding for costs and fees incurred by the city …”

Under the agreement, funds could be used by Crestwood “for those actual and reasonable costs directly incurred by the city for third-party professionals related to drafting and execution of this agreement, the preparation and issuance of the request for proposals for the (planning) consultant, review of responses, submission of a recommendation for a consultant to the city’s Board of Aldermen and any legal fees of the city attorney in connection with those tasks, but not including any litigation …”

If Crestwood Missouri Partners is selected by the Board of Aldermen as the developer for the proposed redevelopment project, the company would make an additional payment of $55,000 to the city, the proposed agreement states.

Aldermen were scheduled to consider ordinances Tuesday night to approve the preliminary funding agreement and to select PGAV as the city’s planning services consultant.

On Oct. 14, Roby told aldermen, “… The developer has told us that they will not be bringing a proposal to us until we have a planner on board to review that proposal …”

On Oct. 28, the Board of Aldermen reviewed a request for proposals, or RFP, for a planning consultant to assist city officials with the potential redevelopment of the mall property. City Administrator Mark Sime issued the RFP on Oct. 30, with responses due Nov. 21.

No information about how many responses the city received was included with the board packet. However, the proposed ordinance to approve the agreement with PGAV states, “… City staff has recommended PGAV as the most qualified firm and the charges to be paid are reasonable under the circumstances …”

As proposed, 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.

Fixed-fee amounts include:

• Initial workshop — $2,500.

• Initial existing conditions analysis — $3,500.

• Marketing assessments — $15,000.

• Fiscal-impact analysis — $5,000.

• Request for proposals and proposal evaluation — $6,000.

• TIF (tax-increment financing) plan — $29,000.

The hourly cap amount is for “TIF and other revenue analysis and cost-benefit analysis,” according to PGAV’s response.

Hourly fees range from $200 for the firm’s vice president/senior consultant to $90 for administrative/technical assistance.

Regarding the initial existing conditions analysis, PGAV “will conduct an initial evaluation of the various conditions that are associated with the property and that would allow its designation as a ‘blighted area.’ Our evaluation of the property conditions would be provided in both written and graphic form as appropriate …”

PGAV also will assess adjacent properties “to determine if the scope of redevelopment or reuse potential should consider properties beyond those associated with Crestwood Plaza. The plaza was a major driver of customers for other retail development in this area of Watson Road,” the proposal states.

“As the plaza has declined, other properties have struggled to maintain business. As an example, the closure of Gordmans leaves a large building subject to the need for reuse. Therefore, we believe that this would be an opportune time to discuss the scope of an area for redevelopment designation,” the proposal states.

“Enlarging the area targeted for reuse/redevelopment, and therefore the potential for use of public incentives, has both advantages and disadvantages. We propose that these areas be part of this evaluation and discussion.”

PGAV, which consults nationwide, has served as Crestwood’s planning consultant since the early 1980s.

When Centrum owned the mall with Angelo, Gordon & Co., the companies proposed an open-air entertainment and retail venue with restaurants, a movie theater, an upscale bowling venue and retail shops. Centrum requested $34 million in public subsidies for the $121 million redevelopment project, including $26.6 million in TIF assistance.

PGAV performed a preliminary analysis of Centrum’s proposal. However, after aldermen rejected a more in-depth study — a precursor to sending the redevelopment project to the St. Louis County TIF Commission — for the third time in July 2013, PGAV withdrew its proposal.

In a letter to then-Mayor Jeff Schlink, PGAV Vice President John Brancaglione wrote that the company did not want to be associated with any more negative votes against the redevelopment project.

But at each PGAV rejection, board members who voted against the study noted they did not vote against PGAV, but were instead registering their discontent with Centrum’s proposal.