Had the Crestwood Board of Aldermen not taken steps Tuesday to keep conversations with Centrum Properties going to redevelop Crestwood Court, partner Sol Barket said the developers would have likely ceased their efforts--at least for a couple years.
Alderman Daniel Tennessen pushed the board last month to reconsider their former 'no' vote to Centrum as the site's developer. But he's also concerned with the state of other vacancies in Crestwood, particularly along Watson Road.
“I believe that Crestwood has three futures,” Tennessen said. “One is that we do nothing, and we become a bedroom community probably serviced by the county. Two is that we do a better job attracting light manufacturing and small business for our main street. Three is that we welcome and engage reconstruction of the mall. I believe we have not done well on number two, and we can do better.”
Aldermen have not approved a formal plan for the mall. Centrum's entertainment-focused District at Crestwood has raised some concern among aldermen and residents, mainly due to the amount of economic assistance requested and a lack of firm tenants.
The board met with Centrum representatives for a work session last week. The city’s planning firm for the project said the new development would require a careful mix of tenants to be successful, Alderman Daniel Tennessen said.
“The experts have also told us that if we come back with a level playing field… we should consider that a success,” Alderman Tim Trueblood said Tuesday.
Another prevailing concern during past discussions was that some proposed tenants, including a bowling alley and grocery store, are too similar to existing Crestwood businesses. A handful of local restaurant owners that Alderman Jerry Miguel spoke worry the competition would lead to sales losses for them, or “cannibalization," he said.
Barket said the restaurants at District of Crestwood would be a bit more upscale than current offerings. He is sure the city could see customers frequent other Watson Road businesses. They may drive over to take advantage of the new movie theater, but prefer their bite to eat at a Crestwood mainstay, he said.
Former city alderman Greg Roby encouraged the board to examine the issue with a longer lens.
"I think we’re looking at this thing with a certain tunnel vision and saying it’s all about redevelopment of the mall, and it’s not. It’s about the redevelopment and reinvigoration of our community," he said.
"When the development is up and running, you'll find businesses currently along Watson are doing more business than they're currently doing because of the traffic it will bring to our community."