2019-Q1 Newsletter

Here We Go!

This is the first quarterly newsletter!   I hope to provide updates on new and ongoing topics throughout my term as Ward 3 Alderman.

That said – there are plenty of activities and news that I won’t be able to include in the newsletters, so visit shipleyward3.org (or subscribe to weekly/monthly updates) for more info.

Click on the topics below to view each article.

The April 2 Ballot is shorter than the one from last fall, but it still has several important items to consider.

Here is a Sample Ballot for Ward 3.

There are no competitive races for Alderperson or School Board Director.  That said, thanks to everyone that puts a check next to my name!

Lindbergh Schools Proposition R - This is a "no-tax-rate-increase" Bond Issue designed to raise funds to dramatically improve the high school and provide additional safety measures at other schools in the district.  This doesn't raise our tax rate, but instead extends the existing Lindbergh bond repayment schedule from 2035 until 2041.

Personally I am in favor of this measure and feel that it will help students, families, and Crestwood property values for years to come. 

Additional information, including a good video, can be found at the Lindbergh Schools Proposition R Website.

MSD Proposition S - The purpose of this proposition is to create a new service that MSD currently does not provide.

There are areas around St. Louis where flooding and storm water runoff causes conditions that a homeowner cannot address alone.

These are issues such as severe eroding of creek banks, or inadequate paths to storm sewers that cause flooding of yards or homes.   The cost for this new service depends on the size of your home and paved areas, but they expect most homeowners would pay an additional $27 per year.

MSD is hosting several informational meetings to provide details on this proposal.  You can also view additional information, videos, and the calendar for their informational meetings on their website.

MSD sent me a list of the projects in our area - over $12 million of improvements to our city and nearby streets. Here's a copy of that report.

If you would like to view a live-stream of MSD's recent town hall - click here for that Facebook video.

St. Louis County Proposition 1

Ballot Language: Shall the St. Louis County Charter be amended as proposed by Ordinance No. 27,300, enacted on the 19th day of January, 2019?  aid charter as so amended would provide for the Office of the County Counselor to have three divisions - respectively serving the legislative, executive and judicial branches of County Government. 

From the STLToday Voter's Guide: The proposal would amend the county charter to change the county counselor's office from one that provides legal counsel for St. Louis County as a whole, to one with three divisions - one each to represent the legal interests of the county's legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Proponents say that the change would ensure that the three branches of county government would remain separate and equal, with their respective interests represented fairly. Opponents call the proposed new structure unnecessary and impractical.

The Mall Redevelopment is one of the biggest projects that Crestwood will experience for many years to come.  While we are again in what seems like a holding pattern, it's probably worthwhile to take a look back to see how we got here...

2008 - The Mall was still open.  Chicago based Centrum Partners purchased the mall for $17M. They invested another $20M to ready it for a proposed redevelopment which would include demolishing part of the mall and creating new retail and an entertainment venue. However, the "great recession" hit and the mall continued to decline.

2012 - The mall was basically closed, except for LensCrafters.

2013 - The owners tried to revive and redevelop the struggling site.   Despite numerous public hearings and meetings, the Crestwood board of alderman deadlocked 4 to 4 and failed to approve the $124M redevelopment, which included a $34M TIF.    The mayor refused to break the tie (which was basically a “no” vote). Later that year, the mall completely closed. 

2014 - Urban Street paid $3.6M for the site (80% less than it sold for 6 years earlier).   

2015 - Crestwood released the plan from Urban Street for the site.  The plan proposed a $115M mixed-use retail and residential space which included a $25M TIF.   Lindbergh School District opposed the plan, as that it included residential space, with no property taxes going to the district. Here's a copy of that plan.

2017 - Mall demolition was completed but further progress by UrbanStreets basically stalled.

2018 - Piles of dirt appeared, earning the site's nickname of "Mount Crestwood".  The City cited UrbanStreets for permit violations and the fill was eventually spread, creating what we see today.

In October 2018 Walpert Properties (a new developer) unveiled their plan for a mixed-use site with a cost of over $300M and could utilize the already approved TIF. Here's a copy of that plan.

2019 - The City continues to work with Walpert and although no firm announcement has been made yet, the mayor has communicated optimistic progress via his Facebook account:
The proposed redevelopment continues to grow in size and scope, and with that increased size and scope comes added complexities. But based on our ongoing talks with the developer (including as recently as yesterday), tenant procurements continue to go well, as does engineering, finance, and design.

Bear in mind that Walpert Properties has only been working on this project since September of last year, and in that less-than 6-month timeframe, they have made impressive progress, and remain on track for an unveiling in the coming months, and groundbreaking by the end of the year.

There will probably be some preliminary matters on City Board of Aldermen agendas beginning in April.
- Mayor Grant Mabie (February 2019)
Additional Site Grading - As discussed in my previous post, Walpert will soon be spreading more fill dirt on the site.

My thoughts - Although there have been multiple failed attempts at redevelopment of this site, it may actually be for the best. Previous development plans were heavily mall and "big box" focused, a model which hasn't faired well in recent years. The latest plan by Walpert is a more diverse concept that includes office space, medical space, "smaller retail", and residential. I'm optimistic that this is the best plan that we've seen for this site.

No matter what - this will be a multi-year project with long lasting impacts. I'm ready to see progress soon, but recognize that diligence and endurance will be required.

Each quarter it is my intention to share some of the more significant decisions and issues that Crestwood Boards and Committees reviewed. That said - Q1 of 2019 was pretty mild. Most of the topics related to renewal of existing contracts and other "new fiscal year" topics. However, a couple of "controversial" topics have been brewing and should come before the Board of Alderman in the next month or so.

Electronic Signs - The city is currently working to revise some of their ordinances and codes. One of these regulates the types of signs that businesses can display. As you may have noticed, more and more businesses are installing the electronic message board type of signs with changing messages, pictures, and animation. The new code will surely reign in what's allowed on these, to avoid the "Las Vegas" feel as you drive down Watson.

The Planning and Zoning Commission requested that the Board of Alderman impose a 6-month moratorium on electronic sign approvals, since sign code changes are coming. The Alderman rejected this request (5 to 3), not wishing to stifle new business requests coming to the City. The Planning and Zoning Commission revised their request and will probably again ask the Board of Alderman to impose a moratorium until the code is updated (which is still several months away).

Comprehensive Plan vs. New Business - A new business has submitted plans and requested variances and approvals to build a new car wash on the site of the old Sweet Tomatoes restaurant. In their plans the existing building will be torn down and the new car wash will be built.

The Planning and Zoning Commission rejected their request on the grounds that it was non-compliant with the City's Comprehensive Plan. Specifically the request didn't prove a strong need for another car wash, and didn't promote (or discouraged) pedestrian and vehicle traffic between properties.

The business is appealing this decision at the March 26 Board of Alderman meeting. As I see it, the Alderman will be deciding if it's more important to welcome in new business to the City or uphold the guidelines of the Comprehensive plan. Should be interesting.

The Alderman term that I’ll be serving is technically that of former-alderman (now mayor) Grant Mabie.   He was elected Alderman in April 2018 for a 3-year term ending in 2021 - which is when my 2-year term will end. 

My term will start at the Alderman meeting on April 23.

The City of Crestwood has a 3-year election cycle. Each ward has 2 alderman, so one from each ward is elected for the first two years of the cycle, and the mayor is elected on the 3rd year. Next year will be the 3rd year, so the mayor should be the only city official on the April 2020 ballot.