September 25, 2013 - A draft request for proposals for a planning services consultant to assist Crestwood officials in "navigating" the process for the proposed redevelopment of Crestwood Court was set to be discussed earlier this week by the Board of Aldermen.
The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.
Aldermen voted 5-3 earlier this month to have City Administrator Mark Sime draft the revised request for proposals, or RFP, for a planning consultant to assist city officials in evaluating Centrum Properties' proposal to redevelop Crestwood Court.
Centrum, the mall's owner along with Angelo, Gordon & Co., has proposed an open-air entertainment and retail complex with restaurants, a movie theater, an upscale bowling venue and retail shops.
As proposed, Centrum's total redevelopment cost is roughly $121 million, with economic assistance in the form of tax-increment financing, or TIF, a transportation development district, or TDD, and a community improvement district, or CID, reaching roughly $34 million.
In a Sept. 18 memo to Mayor Jeff Schlink and the Board of Aldermen, Sime wrote, "As I understand from previous discussions, you want the consultant to focus on a review and assessment of the developer's current proposal and its ability to meet the needs of the city both as a regional draw and for revenue production. I wrote the RFP to ask the consultant to do more than that.
"A planner should do market, demographic, existing conditions and public-support analysis to help the city design criteria for the proposal which will help the city meet our vision and business objectives for the city ..."
Sime also wrote, "To help any consultant meet these needs, we should be able to provide the following to the consultant:
• "What is Crestwood's brand now?
• "What/where does Crestwood want to be in five, 10, 20 years?
• "Will the proposed plan support the future of Crestwood, not just from a commerce/revenue standpoint, but, most important, will it support the lifestyle and a healthy well-being of a small Midwestern city?"
In September 2012, aldermen voted to select Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, or PGAV, as the city's planning consultant for the mall redevelopment. PGAV completed a preliminary analysis of the mall property, but withdrew its proposal in July after an ordinance approving a more comprehensive study was rejected for a third time by the board.
Besides voting Sept. 10 to have Sime draft the RFP, the board voted 6-2 to rescind the second paragraph of Resolution 12-03, which had given city officials authority to move forward with convening a TIF Commission for the proposed redevelopment of the mall. Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter and Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen opposed removing the paragraph.
The draft RFP and the removal of the paragraph from the resolution were discussed last week during a town-hall meeting sponsored by Ward 1 Aldermen Richard Breeding and Darryl Wallach.
The Sept. 17 meeting at the Government Center attracted less than a dozen residents, including former Ward 1 Aldermen Mimi Duncan and Gregg Roby and former Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder. Also attending were Sime and Mayor Jeff Schlink.
Breeding said he believes the board is "moving in the right direction" regarding the mall.
"... It is baby steps, but at least we're moving in the right direction and you don't have the 4-4 split on the board. It's now 5-3, and that could change, but it's a good move in the right direction ..."
Breeding asked if residents had any questions about the redevelopment of the mall, and Nieder said, "Since the proposal (for the mall) has not fundamentally changed and was rejected multiple times by the board, why are we continuing to even invest money in a planner?"
Breeding replied, "... This is my opinion. Hopefully, the money we're investing is not ours. It comes out ... reimbursed via the TIF, eventually. But the reason I believe that — I can't speak for the whole board — but the reason I voted to go forward with this is it does change because we've asked for residential. We've also hinted at what can we do with the Crestwood Industrial Park, too. So I think the scope has changed a little bit."
Nieder said, "That was your request. That was not agreed to by the developer. In fact, it was rejected multiple times."
Breeding said, "Right."
Nieder continued, "So fundamentally, the proposal still has not changed."
Breeding said, "I think it's changed a little."
Breeding and Nieder continued to exchange comments about the project, and Breeding finally said, "... On the PGAV assessment that came out, (PGAV Vice President) John Brancaglione warned against debating or negotiating in public.
"And that's one thing I thought all along that without a developer on our side — or either side — and just negotiating in public and someone hears one thing one way and someone construes it the other way, we don't have a common ground. So that's my opinion."
Wallach said he considered the board's vote to have Sime draft the RFP as progress.
Of the mall site, he said, "... We both feel this is a viable area — I think the board does. Again, I think the disconnect we have is the type of development that goes in there ..."