UPDATED: Crestwood TIF Commission recommends approval of mall proposal

Board of Aldermen to make final decision

Members of the Crestwood TIF Commission listen last week as real-estate agent Ryan Koppy tells them his concerns with granting UrbanStreet Group a \$15 million TIF for the former Crestwood Plaza mall site.

Members of the Crestwood TIF Commission listen last week as real-estate agent Ryan Koppy tells them his concerns with granting UrbanStreet Group a \$15 million TIF for the former Crestwood Plaza mall site.

By Mike Anthony

The Crestwood Tax-Increment Financing Commission voted Wednesday night to recommend approval of UrbanStreet Group of Chicago’s proposal to redevelop the former Crestwood Plaza.

Commission members voted 8-2 to approve a resolution in support of UrbanStreet’s request for $25 million in economic assistance. The panel is a recommending body and the final decision on UrbanStreet’s proposal will be made by the city’s Board of Aldermen.

Voting in favor the resolution were city representatives Greg Hall and Mike Balles and county representatives Margaret Hart-Mahon, Pam Reitz, Glenn Powers, Glenn Henninger, Thomas Curran and Thomas Malecek.

Opposed were commission members Kara Horton, who serves on the Lindbergh Board of Education, and Charles Triplett, who serves as chief financial officer for Lindbergh Schools.

Commission Chairman Tim Trueblood was absent. Hall, the panel’s vice chairman, served as chair for the meeting.

UrbanStreet Group of Chicago is proposing a $104.3 million mixed-use redevelopment of the 47-acre mall site at Watson and Sappington roads, and is seeking $15 million in tax-increment financing, or TIF, assistance; $5 million in Community Improvement District, or CID, funds; and $5 million in Transportation Development District, or TDD, funds.

UrbanStreet’s proposal for the mall site includes one large retail facility that could contain a grocery store, a multi-screen movie theater, a fitness center, two dine-in restaurants, an office building, a 225-unit apartment complex currently envisioned as senior housing and 11 to 13 acres of open space and community gardens.

The resolution approved by the commission recommends approval of the redevelopment plan, the redevelopment project and the designation of the redevelopment area.

The Crestwood Tax-Increment Financing Commission could make a recommendation this week on a proposal to redevelop the former Crestwood Plaza.

The commission is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the Government Center, 1 Detjen Drive, to consider the mall owner’s request for roughly $25 million in economic assistance to redevelop the mall, last known as Crestwood Court.

UrbanStreet Group of Chicago is proposing a $104.3 million mixed-use redevelopment of the mall site, and is seeking $15 million in tax-increment financing, or TIF, assistance; $5 million in Community Improvement District, or CID, funds; and $5 million in Transportation Development District, or TDD, funds.

UrbanStreet’s proposal for the mall site includes one large retail facility that could contain a grocery store, a multi-screen movie theater, a fitness center, two dine-in restaurants, an office building, a 225-unit apartment complex currently envisioned as senior housing and 11 to 13 acres of open space and community gardens.

The TIF Commission is an advisory body and will make a recommendation to the city’s Board of Aldermen on whether to approve or disapprove of the redevelopment plan, the redevelopment project and the designation of the redevelopment area.

Roughly 200 people attended a public hearing last week at the Community Center on UrbanStreet’s proposal. Before the panel heard comments from the public, commission member Charles Triplett, who serves as Lindbergh Schools’ chief financial officer, questioned who had created the agenda for the meeting.

Commission Chairman Tim Trueblood, a former Ward 2 alderman, said, “I didn’t.”

After Triplett learned Mark Grimm of Gilmore & Bell, the city’s special counsel and special bond counsel for the proposed redevelopment of the mall site, had created the agenda, the chief financial officer said, “Mr. Grimm, I think you said at our last meeting that the public hearing could continue after tonight, if deemed necessary. It doesn’t have to be a one-night affair, but whenever it comes to a close, the commission has 30 days to then recommend to the Board of Aldermen …”

Triplett then noted that item No. 5 on the agenda stated, “Resolution regarding approval of the redevelopment plan and the redevelopment project and designation of redevelopment area.”

“… The commission received two resolutions this week, one in favor of and one opposed. Is this meant to be a vote this evening?” Triplett asked.

Grimm said, “… At the conclusion of the public hearing, whether the public hearing concludes tonight or some other night, it will be the commission’s prerogative whether to take up consideration of a resolution regarding approval or disapproval of the redevelopment plan … If the public hearing concludes tonight, the commission can either decide to vote tonight or the commission can decide to come back on Feb. 10 for more discussion and a vote at that time …”

At the commission’s Jan. 20 meeting, members voted unanimously to meet Feb. 10 to discuss UrbanStreet’s plan.

The motion also called for the developer and representatives of the city’s planner, Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, or PGAV, to be present.

Commission member Kara Horton, who serves on the Lindbergh Board of Edu-cation, said Feb. 3, “I understood that we had agreed to continue it until the 10th and not have a vote this evening …”

Grimm said, “… I believe the motion was to set Feb. 10, but it’s always the commission’s prerogative as — I think it’s always the commission’s prerogative at the end of the public hearing as to what to do …”

Triplett said, “I just want to remind my fellow commissioners … at the last meeting we had the discussion and a unanimous vote that we would have another meeting on the 10th, and the purpose of that meeting would be to take all the comments we hear this evening, along with the presentations of the developer in December and PGAV in January and let us have time to digest all that information, have any last-minute questions that any of the commissioners may have and have representatives of UrbanStreet and PGAV at the meeting next week so that we would have a full hearing, if you will, of this matter and do our due diligence as a commission.”

Trueblood said, “… What I do seem to recall was that we would not have a public-comment meeting. The meeting would not be open to public comment … I just didn’t want it to be misunderstood that if we decide to go to a meeting on the 10th that it’s a meeting for public comment. That’s not the case. Tonight is the public-comment meeting and we’ll take as it long as it takes …”

Horton noted, “We already voted for a meeting on the 10th.”

Trueblood said, “… Yes, we did. We’re not saying we didn’t.”

Horton said, “OK.”

Triplett made a motion to remove item No. 5 — the resolution regarding approval of the redevelopment plan and the redevelopment project and designation of redevelopment area — from the agenda. Horton seconded the motion.

The motion was approved with a 7-3 vote with the three members who represent Crestwood — Trueblood, Greg Hall and Mike Balles — opposed. Besides Triplett and Horton, those in favor were county representatives Thomas Curran, Glenn Henninger, Glenn Powers, Margaret Hart-Mahon and Thomas Malecek. County representative Pam Reitz was absent.

Mall owner appeals value of site

In a TIF district, real-estate taxes for school districts, fire districts and other taxing entities are frozen at existing levels for the length of the TIF — up to 23 years.

As land within the TIF district increases in value, the incremental tax revenue — 100 percent of property taxes and 50 percent of sales and utility taxes — is used to retire the TIF obligations.

UrbanStreet Group currently is appealing the mall site’s 2015 assessed value of $3,151,360. The developer successfully appealed the 2014 $3,151,680 assessed value of the mall property.

Based on a Jan. 14 stipulation agreement, the 2014 assessed value of the site was placed at $1,120,000, a reduction of $2,031,680 from the original assessment.

UrbanStreet sought to place the assessed value of the site at $800,000.

PGAV’s cost/benefit analysis assumes the equalized assessed valuation of the mall property will be $1,120,000.

The original assessment would have provided Lindbergh $147,660.12 annually from the mall site. But if the TIF assistance is approved and the mall’s assessed value is frozen at $1,120,000, Lindbergh will receive $52,478.72 each year — a loss of $95,181.40 annually — or a total of $1,427,721 over the life of the TIF.

If the TIF would take the full 23 years to be retired, Lindbergh Schools would lose a total of $2,189,172.20.