Crestwood Mall Redevelopment Plan Features Retail, 225 Apartments

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Crestwood Plaza redevelopment by UrbanStreet - Crestwood, MO

It’s amazing the effort it requires to remake a retail monolith. The Crestwood Plaza mall has been vacant now for several years. Plans have come and gone. The city doesn’t want something too bland, or too urban. It’s been looking for something just right and it appears that Crestwood thinks they’ve found it.

Site owner and developer UrbanStreet has submitted a low-density, mixed-use redevelopment plan to the city, which it released today. Amazingly, UrbanStreet paid just $3.6M dollars for the 47-acre site, which had sold for $17.5M in 2008, and was assessed at $28.7M in 2006.

The UrbanStreet plan shows low-density, mixed-used development. Four Redevelopment Project Areas (RPAs) show service retail, entertainment and destination retail, multi-family residential, and an adjacent community garden and green space.

Crestwood Plaza redevelopment by UrbanStreet - Crestwood, MO

Retail plans show low-density development with expansive parking. This would essentially maintain the nature of the site, and continue the development pattern along Watson Road. Residential is a much needed and the 225 units are a smart addition to the site. And just in case Crestwood would cringe at the thought, the plan states, “rental units are of an extremely high level of finish and cater to a “renter by choice” class of tenant”. The remainder of the site, a community garden with open space and rainwater management, could be a great addition to the area.

We have advocated for a vision that would transform the site into more of a “downtown” Crestwood, something the municipality currently lacks (leading us to ask, how do you know you’re in Crestwood?). More dense, walkable retail would provide a more sustainable, resilient tax base for the community. But sometimes the plan that can be accomplished is best plan. Still, we lament what we believe is a missed opportunity.

Crestwood Plaza redevelopment by UrbanStreet - Crestwood, MO

From the UrbanStreet plan:

RPA 1 ‐ Service Retail
Approximately 3 acres, occupying the furthest westerly end of the property, provides the highest visibility and easiest direct access for retail users. This part of the site occupies the corner of the property at Sappington Road and Watson Road. We have analyzed and engineered multiple scenarios for this site including multi‐tenant inline retail, individual out lots and single use midsize box retail. Potential users include a full line grocer, a specialty grocer, a fuel station, a convenience mart, a pharmacy and a drive through fast food. The Developer is in discussions with representatives from all of those user categories.

RPA 2 ‐ Entertainment and Destination Service Retail
Approximately 20 acres of the proposed Project is anchored by an entertainment/retail/service core that would include a multiplex theater and various destination restaurants. This area is accessed from the multiple lane entrance off of Watson Road. This portion of the Project is anchored by a plaza that could be privately and publically programmed to accommodate a wide variety of community events ranging from farmers markets to concerts. This plaza affords outdoor seating areas for the restaurants as well as a gateway entrance to the theater. This “town square” will provide a flexible hub for civic life not only within the Project but for the community as a whole. Other complimentary uses for this area of the project include office, fitness, entertainment complexes and destination dining. The Developer is in negotiations with a regional theater chain to anchor this portion of the Project and has had discussions with representatives of all user categories.

RPA 3 ‐ Multi‐Family Residential
Approximately 11 acres occupying the southeast portion of the Property are designated for multi‐family rental residential. Preliminary plans call for a 225 unit “lifestyle” apartment complex with associated garage and surface parking as well as an amenity center. Due to the extreme topographical changes in the overall site, this portion of the Project will sit lower than the surrounding parcels, providing a certain protective isolationism to the residences. These rental units are of an extremely high level of finish and cater to a “renter by choice” class of tenant. This demographic is seeking flexibility in their lifestyle and prefers to pay rent rather than be tied to the burdens of residential ownership. As a group, they are demanding and the Project will not only need to be built to the highest standards, but more importantly, it will need to be maintained at those standards long term. This new breed of apartment complex boasts amenities mostly associated with resort or hospitality projects.

RPA 4 ‐ Open Space and Community Gardens
The massive reworking of the site and the associated stormwater management will result in approximately 13 acres of multiple open detention and treatment areas. These areas will be landscaped with native plant materials and will provide a natural oasis. It is also the Developer’s intent to redevelop the parcels adjacent to the industrial park into public garden plots assessable to the community. This will provide a much needed strip of greenspace in the industrial park as well as potential connectivity to the Great Rivers Greenway path.

Crestwood Plaza redevelopment by UrbanStreet - Crestwood, MO
*all images from GreenStreet redevelopment proposal

Proposal for the Crestwood Plaza Redevelopment Area by UrbanStreet – Crestwood, MO by nextSTL.com

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  • Dweizer

    Hard to believe they are going to waste all that space on parking lots… every heard of a parking garage??? You could tuck a few back off the road and put in more “green” space or add some additional retails shops, restaurants…

    Having lived in the Northern Virginia area for years I can tell you places like this are very common out there, and they don’t have that type of open parking lots space. What attracts people is restaurants. Having 1 or 2 isn’t going to be a draw, you need 6-8 (and not buffalo wild wings or red robin, you want the 1 off types).

    Just my opinion but if this is the best they could come up with after years of brainstorming it seems to me to be a bit of a disappointment…

    • Adam

      It’s not that that’s the best they could come up with. It’s that they can’t get any anchor tenants interested in the project because it’s a stupid project. Crestwood mall failed because St. Louis is over-retailed and the retail hot-spot moved from Crestwood to West County. Crestwood doesn’t have the population to support 6-8 restaurants here–much less one-off types–and this development isn’t going to add enough new residents to change that. If Crestwood were smart they would build higher-density housing here, but the neighbors would never allow that. So instead we’ll be stuck with a state-of-the-art strip mall (which is a strip mall with some apartments thrown in, a.k.a. a “lifestyle center”) surrounded by a sea of parking.

      • Dweizer

        Isn’t the “multi-family” residential the high density housing you speak of?
        The issue with this type of living is that it is geared towards a younger demographic. A boutique theater, and good restaurants, maybe a target, would do great if you could get 20-30 year DINKS to move in. But I agree, the Crestwood area does not have that type of draw.

        Actually, the best thing for the area would probably be to just make it into a park… but that would never happen seeing as how it is such “valuable” retail space.

        • Adam

          The multi-family component is a start, but it’s just not enough compared to the amount of parking. If Crestwood wants to sustain the level of retail it used to have–back when it also drew from surrounding munis–then it needs to worry first about adding a substantial number of residents and worry later about building more stores. Unfortunately I just don’t think there’s enough growth in the metro to support that without stealing from other munis. And that would only shift the problem around.

          • Dweizer

            Correct, kind of a chicken and egg thing. It all comes down to increasing jobs available in the area to attract population growth, like you said.

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  • chris m hampton

    I Loved Going To Crestwood Mall With My Freinds and Family I’ve played in the arcade and Ate at the foodcourt and I’ve Went Christmas Shopping there for my mom in 1997 and In 1998 I’ve Went Christmas Shopping at Claire’s Jewerly Store TO Buy Kristi Marie Summers a Necklace at Crestwood Mall In 1998 and I’ve Loved it Up There as well.

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  • Martin Carmichael

    I think you should add a swimming pool and club house instead of the green space people especially kids need places to go and things to do.

  • STLEnginerd

    Question… Why do none of the proposals we’ve seen involve keeping the underground parking structure either in part or in total? Is the something structurally/code wrong with it or is it just viewed as too restrictive to the site plans they are looking at.

    In the above proposal in seem like they tear it down, and then turn a good chunk into green-space because of the topography. With the underground parking the lot actually seems pretty flat to me. What am I missing?

  • rgbose

    Perspective from a long-time Crestwood resident who is the parent of a friend:

    “I finally got to see some more of the plans. It is not at all what I had imagined. It looks like it is still trying to be a mall and doesn’t really make use of the Watson access. I had imagined multi-story buildings on Watson with stores on street level, parking below and perhaps living space above. It certainly doesn’t have the downtown’ feel that I had imagined.

    I’m also not sure who would open a grocery store there with Schnucks across the street and Shop’n’Save a block away. ”

    “I spoke with some friends last night. The general thought is anything is better than nothing. I think we are all tired of it sitting there empty. Another point was made that their concept of grocery store might be
    something like Whole Foods or Trader Jones – both would be welcome.

    You bring up a good point about the Lindbergh schools {I said I would have expected more residential due to the strength of the schools}. A lot of first time buyers can’t afford the current stock of houses. Friends children have been out-bid on several houses they have tried to buy. ”

  • Ted Yemm

    An article in the St. Louis Business Journal listed Crestwood as the number one place in the area to sell a house right now based on speed of sale and sale price being closest to or above listing price. I appreciate the date provided here at NextSTL, but this seems to be the most up to date data available on the residential market in Crestwood. I find it hard to believe, given this information and the strong commercial history of the Crestwood corridor, that this property can have an exceptionally strong and transformative development. Hopefully Urban Street sees this article.

    • moorlander
    • JJ

      Yes this confirms what I’ve already known, glad to see its out there for the public now too! It was also interesting that UCity was the #2 area in the buyers market, since that’s where many of the Nextstl’s writers live. Seems ironic that they choose to write articles with a strong personal opinion slant when their own area is in decline. I do wish the mayor would address this article from Dr. Simpson in the SunCrest Call saying the 225 apts would be the worst possible scenario.

      • Ted Yemm

        I just finished writing a letter to Dr. Simpson expressing my concern for his views, and I encourage you to do the same. If you need his email address, please let me know.

        • JJ

          I actually agree with Dr. Simpson completely so I’m not sure if you mean concern with his views or Mayor Roby’s. Mayor Roby lost all crediability to me when he publically stated that he thought the school district received property and sales taxes. Pretty sad considering his daughter is a Lindbergh teacher.

          • Ted Yemm

            I don’t see this project getting done without some mixed use. While the district does not collect sales tax, it would reap benefit from increased commercial property values throughout the Watson Corridor. The district has admitted that it has been losing tax revenue through that region for at least 10 years as property values have decreased.

            I am also not comfortable with the district turning its back on potentially lower income families because there may be a problem with them being transient. In the interview, Dr. Simpson states that they are already seeing a significant number of students from the current apartment complexes in the district. Are these students currently a problem? If so, the Lindbergh staff seems to be doing an excellent job educating them, because they haven’t seemed to hurt their ranking at this time. I have three children in the district, and we enjoy the many benefits that the district offers. I have also been encouraged by the slow increase in diversity of population of the schools and would hate to see that halted.

            The problem with this development as presented is not the 225 apartments, its the ridiculous lack of commercial density. Urban Street is claiming that the reason that this piece of property will not support a main street type development because of the topography east of the mall. This is BS when one considers that the entire historic downtown in Maplewood would fit on the Crestwood mall site. In addition to the fact that Crestwood is the hottest real estate in the region, this part of the Watson Corridor has an exceptionally strong commercial history. These facts support the belief that this is a unique piece of property that deserves a unique development.

            I would hope that the Lindbergh School District receives prominent consideration when negotiating a final plan for the property since its strength is a major factor in the uniqueness of this property. I would also hope that Dr. Simpson shows enough leadership to engage the relevant parties somewhere other than the Suncrest Call.

          • JJ

            I agree with the mixed use and love the growing diversity in all aspects including financial. I did not take Dr. Simpson’s comments about transients in the same way I think you did, I have a family member in education and it’s very common to rent a 1br apt in a good district and live somewhere else and having a transient population, similar to a migrant farm worker population is something that is going to require a lot of resources to accommodate. Of course all students are entitled to a FAPE but will it come at expense of resources needed to maintain Lindbergh’s high standards? Is the Lindbergh district ok with having a tax increase to balence out the influx of children that will come without property tax $$ just so one town in the district can get a new development? What if the Lindbergh voters reject a tax increase and our MAP scores tank? What will our property values look like then?
            As someone with a finance and development (not local) I don’t blame Urban Street with trying to grab every last cent of free $$$ they can get and do a developemnt where their profits will be the biggest, after all they are a business but I think Crestwood has a different hand than it did just 5 years ago when it comes to dealing with these developers. As much as people who are scared and don’t have a clue about real estate development will want you to believe, Crestwood does have the upper hand. Best schools, hottest market, and our average age demographic I’m sure has gone way down since 2010 along with the average household size. I’m just not a fan of the Mayor and his sheeple’s sky is falling we better sign now tactic. As far as the assessment goes, Jake Zimmermann’s office is a joke, he’s got assessments all over the board in my neighborhood, some shot up 200%, some went down 50%. I’m laughing all the way to the bank on mine since he way undervalued it but am I going to say hey St. Louis, may I pay more?

          • Ted Yemm

            I think that we agree on most aspects here. The sky is falling argument goes both ways here. While I don’t like the fact that there will be additional students coming from properties that aren’t paying taxes, I find it hard to believe that a 1.2% increase in the student population is going to tank MAP scores.

            The argument that really irritates me is that Urban Street is ultimately the owner of the property and so they can build what they want. That’s fine if you’re not asking me to be a 28% investor in the project. In my personal project investing, I would never invest significantly in a project that wasn’t going to at least listen to my concerns and answer my questions. If you want the public subsidy that is most likely necessary to move the project forward, then you need to play ball.

          • rgbose

            How tight is the Lindbergh Schools budget? Is any new household with net additional school kids a worry for the district? A house appraised at $300,000 *0.19 * 0.042906 = $2,445 per year for the district. That’s far less than the per student spending. Is it also less than the marginal cost of adding a student at the moment?

          • JJ

            I would refer you to the finance director Charles Tripplett for Lindbergh Schools for a clearer picture. Long story short, the state has taken away millions and even when they promised to “hold harmless” and not take anymore away they went back on that and took some more. The district is 91% funded thru district taxpayers, that’s more than any other district. We are facing a crowding issue with the kids that are already here. The new school that is getting built will already be at capacity. Please don’t just take my word for it, reach out to the district officials and hear it for yourself. I’m sure Dr. Simpson would be open to speaking with you.

          • CMW

            What is Dr. Simpson’s plan for redevelopment?

          • JJ

            It is not Dr. Simpson’s job to have a plan for redevelopment, it is his job to utilize the resources he has to their maximum benefit, which he has done an excellent job with in his tenure at Lindbergh. It is with Dr. Simpson’s leadership that the distrct has taken the top academic spot and held on to it for the last 5 years. When a developer proposing housing of any sort, it is the prudent thing for Dr. Simpson to ensure it comes with adequate funding to ensure the academic excellence continues.

          • Alex Ihnen

            But there must be a counterweight, or further consideration, correct? Similar issue was addressed in Clayton with new residential development. In the most recent case, the school system stated a preference against TIF for residential, the city considered it and ultimately went ahead with the project. I sympathize with someone simply trying to do their job, or maximize the influence of their employer, but that’s only part of the story.

          • JJ

            Oh Alex I know you love those apple & oranges comparisons! Clayton relies on local property taxes to fund 70% of its budget compared to Lindbergh’s 92%. Clayton also spends twice as much per pupil than Lindbergh. That’s what makes Lindbergh so amazing and speaks volumes on Dr. Simpson’s leadership. The fact that they can have higher academic performance for a record number of years with a low tax rate, lower property values and less state and federal funding than Clayton and Ladue is really impressive. Of course there can be a counterbalance but I am impressed that Dr. Simpson is progressive enough to speak out and educate everyone in the district as to what the possible outcomes are. What was the dollar amount for the Clayton TIF you mentioned? How many apts. were in that development?

          • Ted Yemm

            I just don’t see any development going forward without some form of tax abatement here. The way I read the information from the State of Missouri website is that a portion of property and sale tax from the TIF designated area are earmarked for repayment. I would assume that this allows for some negotiation of payment to the district during the TIF period. Personally, I think that the residential here is only palatable with significantly increased density of development on the site with increased office/business space. (This is where I restate my plea for a full court press to bring Kraftig Brewery and offices to the site!) If the site were sufficiently dense with employers, perhaps the residential is no longer part of the development. I can’t believe that they can get this

            http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/mixed-use-development-planned-for-maryland-heights/article_357a3175-a5a9-5eee-a7c9-d08a22bec2e9.html

            in Maryland Heights, and we can’t get better in Crestwood. I’m just not buying the poor highway access argument.

          • JJ

            I don’t disagree with you at all, however Urban Street could have saved itself a PR nightmare this week by stating in the proposal that they would be seeking a TIF for the non residential area. I’m not against a TIF nor am I against residential be it a trailer , gypsy wagon or McMansions what I am against is the possibility of children living there without the means to educate them with. No one can guarantee that children will not live there. A child in my child’s class lives in a 1
            br apt., it does happen. If I was the developer I would have approved the city with my proposal differently, not created the mass hysteria with including the residential in the non residential TIF. If they would have done it that way it would have been a slam dunk. I also feel like if they could have gotten Billy Busch to publicly commit on a contingent that the residents would have no problem giving a local a TIF. It will be quite the soap opera for the next few months I’m sure! Maybe even more so now that Scott Sifton has moved into the city and has 2 young kids that will probably use Lindbergh Schools. I’m sure his take on the TIF’s could make or break his election for AG in 2016.

          • Ted Yemm

            Definitely on the same page with you here. I am amazed that the developers don’t seem to have any interest in managing the PR side of these developments. This would seem especially important when asking for public money. I would think that getting Billy Busch on board would make him such a hero that the project would fly through. I worry because I don’t see an obvious space for him in this plan.

          • CMW

            The district was doing very well before Dr. Simpson appeared a few years ago. It’s not like this was Jennings or Riverview or the St. Louis City school district. It’s a cake job. Why is he building a school at Dressel that will be over-loaded or at capacity when they open the doors? This is an opportunity to get ahead and we’re building one that will not really alleviate the problem?

          • CMW

            Not all of those houses have students in them! If every 5th otr 6th house has a Lindbergh student hen u suddenly have $300,000 *0.19 * 0.042906 = $2,445 *5= $12,225 per student which is more than they spend!

          • JJ

            Except the median home value is $200,000 per county assessments in 2014.

  • Steve Kluth

    I don’t get why local communities don’t take advantage of the SLU urban planning program (along with those at Missouri State and U of I). Students could research multiple options on development, especially in a case like the Crestwood Mall site. If the idea is to attract millennials, it might be a good idea to ask them what they would look for in a community.

    I am glad they did incorporate some housing into it. Too bad it looks like a typical suburban apartment complex next to a suburban strip mall and a fast food franchise in front. I can find that anywhere.

    This is an opportunity to build something nobody else in the metro area has. Maybe a bunch of 2-3 story buildings with retail on the ground floor and apartments above, all built around a central commons park. If it really needs that much parking, build a hidden garage (the one good thing about the old Crestwood Mall), possibly under parkland to reduce runoff. Build curved streets to give it more an Old World feel. Figure out a way to connect the property to Grant’s Trail. I’m not saying they should do all that, but Crestwood should at least TRY something different.

    • JZ71

      Mostly because students and academicians tend to minimize / ignore real-world constraints like financing, budgets and marketability. If the numbers don’t pencil out, it doesn’t matter how “different” or “better” any development may be, it either won’t be built and/or the taxpayers will be left holding the bag for the financial overruns . . .

      • Steve Kluth

        Is your statement regarding “students and academicians” based on evidence or your opinion/common knowledge? It’s been close to thirty years, but when I was in college minoring in Regional Analysis I was expected to plan around real-world constraints. The 80’s were more idealistic than today. I doubt today’s students and their instructors would be any less pragmatic than those of my era.

        • JZ71

          Based on my experiences in college in the ’70’s and my life as both a design professional and through serious involvement in community-based planning efforts from the mid 80’s through the first half of the first decade of this century, there’s a whole lot of truth in the statement the “Those who can, do; those that can’t teach” . . . http://www.academia.edu/4720598/Those_who_can_do_and_those_who_cant_teach . . . Yes, back in college, we were expected to “plan around real-world constraints”, but since they were never implemented, there was never a way to see if they were truly practical, functional or realistic, or if they were just academic pipe dreams.

          Every real estate project / development is local. It resides in a local market and is subject to the whims of that market. Developers don’t build boring, suburban crap because they think it’s great design, they build it because it sells! If there were truly a market, locally, for higher density on Watson Road, a developer would be foolish not to provide it. Unfortunately, the bulk of the demand for higher densities is coming from people who will never invest in Crestwood – it’s just basic supply and demand. The mall died because the shoppers decided to shop elsewhere – it didn’t change, the market and the surrounding demographics did!

          • JJ

            To touch on your last sentence, Crestwood is an abnormality as far as what happened with the mall dying. When GI’s came back from WW2, the city of St. Louis did not plan for adequate housing. This failure on the city’s part pushed many south city people into newly incorporated Crestwood. Their younger friends and family joined them and the majority of the city’s housing stock was built between 1948-1965. Ranch homes were very easy to grow old in and single level 1500sq ft houses were not that hard to take care of for an aging couple. The original owners children (baby boomers) wanted more space this development boomed south down 21 and out 44. The original owners stayed put and now found themselves living on a fixed income and not needing to buy for a growing family like they once did up until the 1990’s. Now that the original owners are dying their well maintained solid brick homes in the top school district are selling fast to young couples with very young children that have seen some pretty scary McBride homes that are only 20ys old and want a more solid home. Unlike other area malls that failed in St. Louis, Crestwood was too stable, and I can’t wait to see the shock and surprise when the 2020 census comes out. Ask any realtor, Crestwood is an absolute phenomenon right now. It makes me feel so good to see the joy on my 85 yr old neighbors faces when they see all the young moms walking around the neighborhood pushing a stroller knowing their beloved Crestwood will live on once again and will not become another town that “used to be nice back in the day”

          • JZ71

            I agree, completely, with your demographic analysis. The real question is where do/will all these young Crestwood families shop? Along Watson? In Kirkwood? Sunset Hills? South County, along Lindbergh? West County, along Manchester? Gravois Bluffs? Chesterfield? The city? Is there truly demand for more retail, either in Crestwood or in the surrounding cities?

            What we have here are competing agendas. The city wants sales taxes, so they want retail, preferably retail that draws from a regional area (driving population), not just local residents (walking population). The developer wants to maximize ROI, so they want to build whatever will generate the most revenue, and given the current demand for rental housing (and the ability to finance it), the plan shows apartments and fast food. Urban advocates want dense and walkable, yet dense and walkable seems to be a hard sell in the region (with only a few examples in downtown Kirkwood, the Boulevard across from the Galleria, a couple of projects in Creve Coeur and, of course, New Town).

            I agree, this plan is not very “creative”. It “touches” many of “the bases” and plays it safe. I doubt that there’s much need for more theaters or another gym in the area (especially with the vacant Gordman’s, across the street), and fast food is either a throw-away or a cash cow (depending on how you look at it), but it’s probably financable and realistic enough for the city to agree to a TIF proposal. In a perfect world, we’d be seeing another Belmar – http://www.denver.org/about-denver/denver-neighborhoods/belmar-lakewood/ . and http://www.denverpost.com/lakewood/ci_25705917/10-years-later-belmar-exceeds-expectations-lakewood-growth . – but that niche seems to be already occupied by Kirkwood, and to a lesser degree, Webster Groves.

            The real question is can we (ever?) get our local transaction prices up to a point where we can cover the higher construction costs that denser developments require? Both McBride and Urban Street, like every other builder, are building to a price point, and adding structured parking and elevators comes at a very real cost. If suburban land is cheap (as it is), or a vacant mall has lost more than 90% of its value (as this one has), or neighboring retail continues to lose tenants (as is the case) there’s very little incentive to build more densely. In our homes, stuff expands to fill vacant space; in a region like ours, with a stable (stagnant) population, building more is not always the best answer.

          • JJ

            Agreed! As for where we are shopping, online sales might not be a huge % of total sales now but going forward it’s really going to be about Amazon and any other retailer with fast and free shipping. We don’t want to spend our free time shopping. As much as this has already been brought up, so many people in this area make the weekly trek to Trader Joe’s, I wish they had a zip code input at checkout. A Fresh, quality food market would be great and if a fast food place is a must something with a great indoor play place or healthy option like the STL Bread Co. But with a drive thru like the one on Landsdowne and Watson. We are inbetween Y’s so something like Lifetime Fitness would be amazing, especially since it is kid friendly. I just hope the developers get the right picture of what the demographics really are and where they are trending to.

    • CMW

      Like your ideas Steve but it’s up to the developer to build something that they make money off of. Unless some Wealthy donor wants to step up and underwrite some cost, the type of development you describe most likely wouldn’t be financially feasible or sustainable and that’s why it’s not being proposed.

  • JJ

    Alex could you please cite your references for the 4th sentence on the 1st paragraph. Is this an actual fact from documentation or just yor opinion?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Opinion based on city and resident reception to previous proposals.

      • JJ

        Proposals? I’m only aware of one proposal by Centrum that was found to be unsustainable. Are you aware of more? As far as resident reception, do you mean the handful of residents that were allowed to speak at the planning meeting?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Sorry – I felt that the assertion was rather bland and basically a rhetorical set up for the “just right” phrase. Seems all rather beside the point to me as Crestwood clearly isn’t going to approve a very urban site plan, but does need and want the area to generate tax revenue.

          • Ted Yemm

            Not sure where the idea comes from that Crestwood would not approve of an urban site plan. The rumor that I am hearing is that the developer stated that topography of Watson to the east makes it more difficult to see this area as a “downtown” district. Not sure if they are talking about the steep hill or the medians. The developer then made the decision that a more dense downtown plan would not work on this site.

            The big hill explanation seems like a bunch of BS to me, but removing the medians and using the space to make Watson more pedestrian would seem to help this development tremendously. To that end, Crestwood officials have been in contact with state officials to see about removing the medians. They have been told that there is no pavement under the medians making the project much more expensive, and MODOT has no interest in doing this project at that cost. If you have any suggestions where grant funding might be available to reduce the price of removing medians, we would love to hear them.

            So I am left with this question: Who have you talked to in Crestwood that gives you the impression that Crestwood would clearly not approve an urban plan.

          • JJ

            Preach Ted! As much as I value Nextstl’s interest in Crestwood, many of the regular contributors such as Alex and Richard Bose seem to have an outdated impression of Crestwood. I would love for these guys to speak to some of the many young familes that have made the choice to buy in Crestwood in the last 5yrs instead of the far outer lying suburbs where they could have gotten a much bigger house for the same price.

  • Devin in South City

    Ouch. This hurts…Is the “renter by choice” caliber development the kind of thing you find at the Streets of St. Charles development?

    I’d love to know more why Crestwood wanted something “not too urban,” as the writer says. Any thoughts on what their fears are?

    • JJ

      I’d love to know where the writer got that quote from now that you mention it. I’ve never read or heard that phrase in any of the BOA meetings or press releases. Surely the writer didn’t make it up?

      • John R

        read RPA 3 ‐ Multi‐Family Residential

        • JJ

          Yes I assume you mean the “Renter by choice” quote, as that is found on RPA 3 but I was speaking about the “not too urban” quote. Any idea where Alex got that from?

          • John R

            Gotcha… Alex didn’t make his comment on that a quote though. The project does appear to be led by NotTooUrban Street, an UrbanStreet subsidiary, but I don’t know what the community is open to…. it would be quite interesting if it was rejected for not being urban enough.

          • JJ

            1st paragraph 4th sentence . I dislike when people interject their own opinion of what they think a community wants so it fits their narrative. No one is saying Crestwood is rejecting anything, it’s just in poor journalistic taste to make accusations without backing them up.

          • John R

            I know what you’re saying, but his “not too urban” text was not a quote, unlike “renter by choice.” Perhaps it would have been better to say that it “appears” the city doesn’t want to have something too urban but I think his inference is valid…. if you can point to something like an RFP or city officials otherwise pushing for intensive urbanism at the site then that would be helpful info.

  • Presbyterian

    Alex, you should have posted this April 1.

  • kjohnson04

    If that’s what they are bringing to the table, a public park might be a better idea. No development is a better idea than bad development, which is what this is. Dreary, suburban, and a sea of parking spaces.

    • rgbose

      I’d be curious to know how much of this is what Urban Street thinks would be successful vs what Urban Street thinks will be successful under the constraints placed by city officials and electeds.

      • kjohnson04

        So am I.

      • Ted Yemm

        Not sure what you mean. The big requirement is that the TIF has a pretty reasonable expectation of pay off. No one has expressed any reservation with mixed use. What we would really like is a developer that is willing to engage in dialogue as the process moves forward. Higher density is certainly preferred although, since this is already a commercial district, commercial and retail are preferred over housing to increase the density.
        One note about the “green space”, there is no elevation discussed in the proposal that I can see, but I think that this area is probably on a pretty steep grade. It may not be realistic to build on this area.

      • JJ

        And what exactly would those constraints be? I see more constraints being placed on the developer on the financing aspect. Banks really like the term “mixed use” right now when it come to financing and building homes that would increase the k-12 population would most likely not allow the developer to use TIF financing. Sounds to me if th developer was self financed then they would have a lot more freedom.

  • Tim E

    OK, my two cent opinion. I like the idea that finally a Inner 270 muni (outside of Clayton & the U City/Wash U gang) sees a plan that introduces housing to the mix. Why, housing attracts families and demographics. However, I really don’t see many people agreeing with how the housing is proposed. Whether it be one of us not from Crestwood or those who live in Crestwood. I assume that most people would rather see single residential unit or more of apartment townhomes, condo development.
    .
    My idea of a better development that would incorporate a more of a compact, denser downtown, entertainment area as well as some big box store development as what was built in Pleasant Hill, California (Bay Area). The commercial area is relatively new & compact, based on around a movie theater as well as has such stores as Hobby Lobby/Container Store, etc. In addition has park and city center nearby and surrounded by single residential homes that anchor the community.
    .
    My take is most people in Crestwood community would prefer to see more single residential home instead of non descript multi unit elongated boxes . OK, that is my two cents

    • JJ

      Agreed, but the people in Crestwood and Lindbergh district cannot sustain any more students unless they are property tax paying residents. The TIF ruins that. Every district is differnt as to what it get from the state and Feds and sadly Lindbergh is pretty much self funded. On top of that 1000+ more students are expected in the next 5 yrs that will be property tax paying residents and they’re aren’t any plans yet to even address that.

  • Monbro

    I’m surprised there is no mention of using the Brownfield Redevelopment Program, but I guess why go thru that hassle when the mayor is desperate

    • Kitty

      Brownfields, by definition, have to be difficult or costly to redevelop due to harmful substances, contaminants, or pollutants on the site, usually underground from prior industrial uses. I doubt the former mall site has anything that harmful onsite, beyond the typical VOC-emitting building materials you can find in any mall, or newer home for that matter.

      • Monbro

        Hmm that’s intersting, because the state website on the program says commerical/industrial. Northwest Plaza used it due to asbestos and Crestwood was built around the same time. Along with the substances that may not have been properly disposed of at the Sears automotive garage, wouldn’t it least be worth the free survey the state offers? Have you heard or do you know of any official documentation that the site does not qualify or has been denied?

        • Kitty

          I hadn’t heard about NW Plaza using Brownfield credits, that’s very interesting! I didn’t realize the credits could be applied to asbestos abatement; the prior automotive uses could make sense for brownfield status, though I haven’t heard of them used to repurpose, say, a mechanic’s shop. Which isn’t to say a developer couldn’t still apply for it. I don’t know anything about the credits being applied for on this site. Since the EPA’s credit program sunset a few years ago, developers only have to answer to the state, which may have less strict guidelines. They may as well go for it.

  • rgbose

    I’m surprised there isn’t more residential considering the desirability of the Lindbergh schools. Plus more residents could support more small-scale retail. Smart to limit the retail since there’s so much along Watson.

    Hope one of these places becomes a gathering place for Crestwood residents. From those I’ve talked to they really miss that aspect of the mall.

    • JJ

      That would cause a riot! Especially if a TIF was used, how would the Lindbergh district, that is self funded with over 90% local property taxes even begin to accommodate the children that would come from single family housing or 3+br apts/townhouses. I bet that’s the only reason they are keeping the br count so low and the majority will be only 1br’s. I do agree with you about the high demand for single family but if the developer isn’t willing to fork out his own dough, he wouldn’t be able to do anything that would have the possibility of bringing more students into the district without things getting real ugly.

      • rgbose

        How much of a TIF or abatement are they asking for?

        • JJ

          27 million

          • JJ

            Plus the CID which will put sales tax at over 10%

          • rgbose

            Is there an estimate of demo costs?

          • JJ

            An article back in Jan. in the Suncrest Call quoted the developers at $5 but that didn’t include grading and utility relocation. Wouldn’t this site qualify for a Brownfield tax credit?

          • rgbose

            Northwest Plaza demo got the brownfield credits due to asbestos. Sounded like a shady fiasco from the PD articles about it.

          • JJ

            Ya I just looked some up and see what you mean. God it makes me miss Tom Schweich so much just thinking about the potential he would have had to make a huge difference in this state. I haven’t come across anything yet that says the program no longer exists so do you think it would be a bad deal for the Crestwood site due to the drama and controversy it could create from the past Brownfield fiascos? It was built at the same time as NWPlaza so it has asbestos and also rumored improper motor oil disposal at the Sears Auto site. When the last proposal came up critics did t understand why Centrum didn’t at least get a free survey done by the Brownfield program.

    • JZ71

      Crestwood wants/needs sales taxes moee than property taxes.

      • rgbose

        Sales taxes are a cruel mistress. That well is running dry, down in Ellisville, Ferguson, St. Louis City, etc.

        Sales taxes are 44% of Crestwood’s revenues down from 56% in 2006, down 33% in real terms or $2.9M.

        https://nextstl.com/2014/04/town/

      • JJ

        I wouldn’t lump all of Crestwood together. The ones that value the schools, have kids in the schools and realize the reason their brick ranches have 3x the value than the same ones in Affton and Mehlville want property tax money. Either the city taxes will increase for the residents or if a TIF is used the school district taxes will increase. At the end of the day the residents will pay one way or the other.

  • Jack

    I wonder who their target demographic will be for renters with 61 2br’s and the rest 1br’s. This plan could go either way depending on the retail tenants and restaurants that come on board. I would have loved to see a connecting trail to Grant’s Trail. I’m also not very familiar with the legal jargon but would the TIF include the housing? Or would the school distric be able to at least collect property taxes from day 1 from them? If a CID is used wouldn’t that put the local sales tax at over 10%?

  • Mathew Chandler

    Just bring the Arcade back to occupy the entire space.

  • raccoozie

    Not what we had hoped. Here’s hoping Crestwood continues to thrive anyway.

    • 890

      We? You mean people with crazy ideas with no money, no clue how to get things done but feel free to dictate how development should go?

      • matimal

        Wow, were does your special sense of entitlement come from?

      • Tim E

        We? good question. The rest. Its a blog for stating opinions. What do you expect from me or anyone else. Heck, even you got to say what you want.

      • Ted Yemm

        Forgive me if I am wrong, but isn’t the developer asking for the city and school district to become an investor through the TIF? Shouldn’t the developer then at least consider the opinions of the investors that they seek? I would like to see more density than this, but the success of the project for Crestwood is really determined by the tenants of this development.