We made it! Wow, 2020 wasn't exactly a banner year, but there were still some good things that happened. This year I'm skipping the traditional "look back" and am just looking forward to what's coming. Let's go.

As a reminder, I will continue to add more posts to the website, as events occur and information is available. So be sure to visit shipleyward3.org, or better yet, subscribe to receive weekly/ monthly updates via e-mail.

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As you have surely heard, Dierbergs and McBride Homes now have the site under contract, following months of negotiations with the Chicago-based owner, UrbanStreet Group. Here's a full copy of the press release.

Dierbergs will construct a 70,000 square foot grocery store with additional restaurant and retail uses on the western portion of the site, and along Watson. McBride Homes will construct and sell 81 single-family homes on the remaining northeastern portion of the site.

Commercial Space

Although they have been negotiating with UrbanStreet for months, the contract was just finalized in mid-December. As such, there is still development planning work to be completed before everything becomes clear.

For example, the old “bank building” on the eastern edge of the mall site is owned by UrbanStreet and is thus part of the contract with Dierbergs. However, the old Calverts Auto Express and Music City buildings have different owners so it’s unknown exactly what their future holds. Dierbergs has hired engineers and architects to give the site a full study and develop plans, so stay tuned

Residential Space

McBride announced that they plan to build 81 single-family homes, including 37 Bayside Series, 14 Oakwood Series and 30 City-style Homes. Floorplans and pictures of these homes can be viewed on the McBride website (Bayside and Oakwood Series, and City-style Home). Per McBride’s website, these homes have a wide-ranging starting price of $196,000 - $328,900.

What about the existing TIF?

Back in 2016 multiple tax-based incentives were created for the mall site, totaling about $25 million. This included Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a Community Improvement District (CID) and a Transportation Development District (TDD).

That TIF has a fixed lifespan of 23 years and included the entire property. Now that much of the property will be residential and 5 years have already expired from the TIF payback period, Dierbergs has expressed the need to replace that TIF with one that better fits the new proposed use. It is my understanding that the amount sought will be less than the current incentive.

A TIF Redevelopment Plan will be created and a new TIF Commission will be convened. The TIF Commission will be comprised of representatives from the City of Crestwood, St. Louis County, and Lindbergh School District. The City Administrator stated that this commission will probably not complete their work until 2nd quarter of 2021. To cover the city’s costs associated with the TIF process, Dierbergs will deposit $88,000 to the city. Any funds leftover will be returned.

Dierbergs stated that they plan to work on site plan approvals on a "concurrent track" as the TIF approval, which is refreshing compared to the previous development efforts. It's clear that they are eager to move this project towards completion.

Common Questions

Can Crestwood support another grocery store? Schnucks is right across the street – The mayor pointed out that we had three grocers in town for many years, and there is capacity with the closing of Shop 'n Save. Schnucks and Dierbergs compete head to head in Oakville, Concord, Arnold, Fenton, Brentwood, Mehlville, Shrewsbury, Des Peres, Rock Hill/Warson Woods, Manchester, Wildwood, Ellisville, Creve Coeur, Chesterfield, and elsewhere. Centered on Crestwood, we have the largest radius in South and West St. Louis County without a Dierbergs store. That store will draw traffic from surrounding areas to the City.

Why doesn’t Dierbergs just move into the Shop-n-Save site? That space is only about 50,000 sf and Dierbergs needs at least 70,000. The city expects that a new tenant for the Shop-n-Save site to be announced in early 2021.

Where other plans evaluated (e.g. sports fields, etc)? Pretty much everything was looked at for the site. No developer with funding for that idea approached the City. The city talked with dozens of developers, and most wanted to put in 100% apartments on the entire site with no commercial portion. The City and its residents want a commercial portion of the site with dining and shopping options, and have a preference for new single family homes over multi-family.

What about Lindbergh School District? McBride's residential portion of the project will be developed without any tax abatement or tax-increment financing. City leadership has been in contact with Lindbergh so that they understand how the project is moving forward. They will receive their normal funding stream from the new residents. Crestwood Elementary will be the school supporting this area.

What about connectivity to Grants Trail? While final plans are being developed, preliminary plans call for a Grant's Trail connection, and pedestrian-friendly connections between the housing and the retailers/restaurants. Sidewalks are also required on any new residential development in the City of Crestwood including this one.

An excerpt from a previous post...

When elected back in April 2019, I filled the Alderman spot that Grant Mabie vacated when he was elected Mayor. As such, there were only two years left in that term, so it's time for me to file for election to my first full 3-year term as Alderman. On December 15 I submitted the necessary paperwork at City Hall and will be on the ballot for the April 2021 election.

I have enjoyed my time as Alderman thus far. I have met many people from our city and continue to learn the nuts and bolts of municipal government. I was honored to be elected Board President this year and was able to fill in for the mayor for a few events.

Crestwood has four wards, and each will have an Alderman up for election.

  • Ward 1 - Alderman Mimi Duncan has decided not to run again after many years of service. Ward 1 resident Jesse Morrison has filed to fill this vacancy. Mr. Morrison currently serves on the City's Public Works board.
  • Ward 2 - Alderman Justin Charboneau has filed for re-election and if elected will be one of the most experienced alderman on the board.
  • Ward 3 - that's me, running to hopefully serve for another 3 years.
  • Ward 4 - John Sebben has filed to fill the slot vacated by Alderman Ismaine Ayouaz, who has decided not to run again after his first term and many years of service on other city boards. Mr. Sebben is well known to the city through his extensive participation and involvement with various city boards, helped to organize Christmas in Crestwood events, and is a board member of the Sappington House foundation.

    I truly appreciate the kinds words and support that I have received from many residents in our ward. It has been a privilege to serve our community. Again - thank you!

    Clearly the pandemic impacted the city’s budget in 2020 and many projects were scaled back or postponed. Some of those projects are now planned for 2021. Here’s a look ahead at what’s in the budget.

    Whitecliff Quarry – Phase 1 and 2
    Work should finally begin in Q1 2021 on the “phase 1” portion of the quarry improvements. This will include updated paths, a boardwalk along the water, a fishing pier, and disabled parking spots. This is partially funded by a $125K grant.

    The city was also awarded a second grant for $276K to help pay for “phase 2” of the project, which will include a new pavilion and a system to improve the water quality of the quarry (allowing it to be stocked for fishing). Bids for this work will be issued in 2021 and work may start later in the year.

    Sappington Cemetery Retaining Wall
    If you have driven on Watson Industrial Park recently, you probably noticed the old retaining wall that needs replacement. The railroad ties are rotting and its condition is approaching that of disrespect for the cemetery it supports.

    This historic cemetery is where many of the Sappington Family are buried. Graves date back to 1811 and include veterans of the American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War and World War I. John Sappington is noted for his service at Valley Forge as George Washington's bodyguard. The city is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of this site.

    Bids will be issued for a new modern masonry retaining wall, with work hopefully finishing in 2021.

    Government Center Updates
    The flooding of 2019 spurred a major update to a large portion of city hall. Most of the renovations were funded by the city’s insurance, but additional funds were also spent to address areas needing updates. This work will continue into 2021 with completion of the lobby and alderman chambers updates. Also planned is an ADA compliant ramp into the building (partially funded by multiple grants) and installation of more efficient windows throughout the building (replacing many original single-pane windows).

    Concrete Slab Replacements
    Last year the city focused on repairs to asphalt streets – 2021 will focus on concrete streets. The following streets are scheduled for “selective slab replacement” work - Brookview, Fort Donelson, Fort Henry, Lodgepole, Missy Ct, Morningstar Trail, Rosebay, Sappington Greens Lane, and Oakmont Woods Ct.

    Engineering and Planning
    Crestwood was awarded a $1.2m grant to fund 80% of the costs to replace the main bridge at Whitecliff. This will be a multi-year project, with construction design and engineering work happening in 2021. Actual construction won’t begin until 2022.

    A similar exercise will occur with the one-lane bridge on Watson Industrial Park. For more details, check out my previous post about this .

    In January, the Board of Alderman is expected to finalize and approve the city’s updated Zoning Code, completing a project that started back in 2018. The Planning and Zoning Commission spent hundreds of hours reviewing and revising this code from July 2019 through November 2020. The Board of Alderman and city staff continued the reviews and revisions since that time and finally approved the first reading at their December 22 special meeting.

    While a good portion of the existing code was carried forward in this revision, there are several changes worth noting:

    Watson Road Overlay Area (WROA) – This new designation applies to all sites with frontage on Watson Road. New architectural requirements will be applied to sites on Watson that are doing significant renovations, supporting the city's comprehensive plan. New requirements specify how buildings will look and will create a more bike/pedestrian-friendly walkway. This is a very long-term goal that may take 75-100 years before completion, but is a necessary first step.

    Approval Process Changes – There were a few changes made to how site plan applications are approved. For example, the current code calls for the Board of Alderman to be the final decision authority for Site Plan applications. Under the new code, this authority will be moved to the Planning and Zoning Commission, but the Board of Alderman retained their “right of review” so that any decision could be reviewed and approved/denied by the Board of Alderman. This process is more efficient, inline with many other municipalities, and still allows the Board to retain ultimate authority over decisions.

    Public Hearing Reductions – This was a topic of much debate by the board, but it was ultimately decided to follow the recommendation of city staff and the Planning Commission. Our current code does not always require public hearings for certain types of site plan applications, but the city has been holding them anyway. Under the new code, the city will still follow similar notification processes and allow public comment, without always needing to publish a notice in the “St. Louis County Legal Ledger”, a publication that a typical resident or business would never see. Mailings to nearby residents and posting of agenda items will still occur, along with the ability for residents to be heard during public comment. These changes will result in cost savings and avoid delays in the processing of applications

    Residential Fence Requirements – Any new chain-link fence will need to be powder coated or vinyl coated in a neutral or brown color to reduce the number of rusty fences in the city. For those residents on corner lots, the code was clarified regarding fence setback distance from the street on their "side" yard facing the street. This will reduce the number of costly zoning variances needed by residents.

    If you missed any of the previous newsletters, you can find a link to all of them here.