We made it to summer! Even if the pandemic isn't over, signs of the "old normal" are returning and the dark days of winter seem to be fading. I think I attended my last city-related Zoom call this week and am looking forward to returning to in-person meetings in July. Anyway - let's see what's been going on in Crestwood. Here we go.

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Click on the topics below to view each article.

Police Dispatch – Right on schedule, Sunset Hills began answering Crestwood’s 911 and non-emergency Police calls at 8am on July 1. There were several major preparation efforts needed to make this happen which included a phased cutover approach and lots of pre-testing. See my prevous post on this for more details.

Police Facebook Updates – as part of the dispatch migration, several dispatcher positions were eliminated, but a new Community Liaison position was created. This person has many roles and duties that support the department, as well as new outreach to the community. Starting a few weeks ago, the Community Liaison initiated a weekly Facebook post that details criminal incidents and related police action. This is interesting and often surprising on the amount and types of crimes occurring in our city. Check it out HERE.

Whitecliff / Vauk Service Road – Public Works completed the paving of the service road connecting the Whitecliff upper parking lot to Vauk Lane. Lockable barriers have been installed that will halt non-approved traffic but allow pedestrian traffic. In a year or so when the main Whitecliff bridge is replaced, this service road may provide temporary access to the park, but that’s still TBD.

City Hall Updates – The ADA compliant ramp for the main entrance of City Hall is just about complete and that entrance to the building has been re-opened. Other updates to City Hall are also just about complete and in-person meetings are scheduled to resume starting in July.

Sappington House Move – Discussions have been lively and lengthy regarding the possibility of moving the Joseph Sappington log cabin from private property outside of Crestwood to the Sappington Park. City staff has worked extensively to provide firm costs, but due to the complexity of the project, contractors have been very reluctant to provide bids. The city advertised for bids multiple times, extended deadlines many times, and as of June 25 only received a single bid. Staff is still evaluating that bid, but the initial impression is that the costs will far exceed previous estimates. The city has been in contact with the owner throughout. This project is still being evaluated and no decisions have been finalized.

There are several Crestwood businesses that have renovation plans.

BriteWorx Carwash – As you have surely noticed, the old Sweet Tomatoes is gone and bulldozers have finally started pushing dirt around at this site. I don’t have an estimate when it should be done, but I would guess it will be this fall.

McDonalds – Back in 2019, McDonalds received approval to demolish the existing building and build a new one. That project never got started and their approved plan expired. This spring, they submitted plans again to the city and they are again going through the approval process. They appeared before the Zoning Adjustment Board and received variances for setback issues in June. Their plans will also be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Alderman for additional reviews in July. The current building was constructed in 1978. Site plans for the new building are posted HERE.

TD Nails and Bar – This is a new business that is moving to Crestwood into the old Lawyers Building at 9800 Watson. As the name infers, they will provide nail/pedicure services along with alcoholic beverages (e.g., Bachelorette parties, etc.). This site is currently being renovated.

Aldi – Aldi will be moving their Crestwood store into the old Shop n Save site. Aldi stores are typically smaller than most grocers and will thus only consume about half of the Shop n Save footprint. Site plans were approved by the city in June (view proposed elevation HERE). Construction has not yet begun.

TIF Commission – The TIF Commission met in June, but Dierbergs had requested additional time before the Public Hearing so the commission postponed all discussion until July 14. This will be an in-person meeting at City Hall.

Share Your Thoughts – This is important! While the public hearing was postponed, the city received very little resident feedback regarding this project. In fact, only 2 comments from residents and 2 comments from non-Crestwood political organizations were received. I have spoken with many residents that are looking forward to this project. It’s very important that we share those opinions to the TIF commission. I strongly encourage anyone that wishes to see this development proceed to speak up and share your opinion. You can send an email to comments@cityofcrestwood.org and/or attend the public hearing at 7pm, July 14 at City Hall to show your support for this project.

Site Plans – Thus far, we have only seen high level conceptual drawings for the entire site. No detailed construction plans or renderings have been made public. However, the city received site plans earlier in June and are working with the developer to ensure city codes are followed, including the Watson Road Overlay District architectural standards that were approved earlier this year. The public’s first glimpse at staff-approved plans will be when they are presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission (hopefully this summer).

Common Questions Below are common questions that I’ve heard from other residents. If you have additional questions, just let me know.

Why didn’t Urban Street remove all of the building foundations and buried concrete? Shouldn't they be held accountable?

I don’t know why specifically, but tax dollars didn’t pay for the demo work. The TIF that Urban Street planned to use wasn’t activated since there haven’t been any new tax dollars generated from that site. Part of that TIF was to reimburse them for the ENTIRE demolition, but since they never collected on it there’s nothing to enforce. So, if the new TIF is awarded to Dierbergs the remaining site-prep work (including removal of the buried foundations/pavement) will be TIF eligible. So, we taxpayers won’t be paying twice for this work.

Is this project actually going to happen?

I’m optimistic that the combination of Dierbergs and McBride is a winning combination. They are both family-owned local businesses and First Bank has provided preliminary funding commitment for the project (a step that was never completed for prior developments). There are still several hurdles to clear (e.g. TIF, CID, Site Plan approvals, etc.) but I am optimistic. Fingers crossed – we’ve been here before.

When do you think construction will start?

Probably not in 2021, but hopefully in early 2022. There are still many moving parts that have to complete, and some are outside the control of the developers (e.g., building material shortages, etc.).

How many homes will be built?

I haven’t seen the site plans submitted to the city, so I don’t really know. I think at one point it was stated that about 80 homes will be built. When the site plans are made public it should provide more details.

Does Lindbergh have issues with it

While Lindbergh School District had major issues with one of the former development plans, they didn’t have issues with the last one (Walpert) and I have not heard of any concerns with this one. Unlike previous proposals, the residential portion of this site will NOT be part of the TIF, so Lindbergh should receive full real estate taxes from those homeowners. Representatives from Lindbergh are voting members of the current TIF commission so their position should be clear when the commission votes.

Can’t they do this without tax incentives

I sure wish that was the case, but I just don’t see it. This site has seen multiple failed attempts to develop it by prominent companies that have proven track records elsewhere. Even with the previous promise of $25M in tax incentives it failed. Crestwood issued a nation-wide Request For Proposal (RFP) and received only 2 responses (the second of which addressed only a few acres of the site). This is a challenging site with lots of financial risk. The newly proposed incentives don’t even cover the costs of preparing the land to be ready for the above ground construction.

Will Schnucks and Aldi stores suffer

It’s possible they will, but history doesn’t support that. If you open Google Maps and look where all the Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Aldi stores are located – you’ll quickly see that they seem to cluster together all over town. This draws consumers to those areas, and it seems to be beneficial for all. The Schnucks in Des Peres had no competition for decades and after Dierbergs built across the street, both locations ended up being top performers for both companies. This density also helps the nearby businesses as well. I’m excited about Crestwood’s business future.

How long has this site been vacant?

The mall officially closed in 2013 and was sold to Urban Street in 2014. The buildings were torn down in 2017.

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