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City officials welcome improvements to mall


August 10, 2005 - Crestwood city officials welcome proposed improvements at the Westfield Shop-pingtown Crestwood and believe an an-nouncement about the scope of work by Westfield officials could occur in the near future, according to City Administrator Don Greer.

The Board of Aldermen recently approved a conditional-use permit to Lazor Core to operate a family entertainment center featuring laser tag and arcade games for children and adults at the Dillards end of the shopping center.

During Lazor Core's presentations to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City officials have been talking with West-field for nearly two years about the company's plans to improve the Westfield Shop-pingtown Crestwood, according to Greer.

When Westfield representatives initially approached the city, "they just wanted to do some little fix-up things and I was concerned about that and told them I wanted to see more,'' the city administrator told the Call. "They've come to us with a really rough concept to convert that end (the Dillards' end) of the mall to more of a family entertainment kind of center ...

"We're going to get a new theater. I don't know why they're not announcing it, but they were supposed to announce it a couple of weeks ago and haven't yet. I'm sure there's a reason, but the plan is to build a new AMC theater and the plan is to redo that whole end of the mall, bring the food court up (from the lower level to the Dillards' end),'' he continued.

"I'm not privy to know what businesses they talk to and I've only seen a preliminary plan, but I know they've been to California (Westfield's corporate offices) and back a few times and that they've got a go-ahead to do that. My concern has always been that they (won't) do something that postures that property for the long term,'' Greer said, adding that what he's seen would address the long-term needs of the center.

The project will not involve tax-increment financing, or TIF, Greer said.

"I talked them out of a TIF. We're looking at a Community Improvement District. I've got some ideas for that,'' he said. "I'm pleased to see that they're doing more than just cleaning up the place. They're doing a little bit more than that.''

Noting that he's looking forward to seeing Westfield move forward, Greer said, "They've obviously put a lot of work and effort and thought into where they're headed with that. It will be a good thing for the mall. One of the things that they're doing is rearranging stores within the property to better (serve shoppers). The Famous Barr end of the mall is profitable. It has good sales, good numbers. The Dillards' end is not as strong. Sears is still a good, strong store and they're happy with that ...

"They've got what I would consider to be a reasonably ambitious plan for the property. Part of the reason the announcement hasn't been made is that the Melaniphy study is not done ... What they wanted to do is have Melaniphy study the impact of what they were doing and see what effect it may have. So that's what's being done and when that's done, then the report will be public and when the report's public, then certainly they have to make the announcement. So I think we're probably just a couple of weeks away from seeing something,'' he said.

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