More than 100 residents packed the gymnasium at Whitecliff park Tuesday night to discuss a new proposal for the redevelopment of the Crestwood Court mall.
Chicago-based developers Centrum Partners unveiled a plan for an entertainment-themed mall that could have a bowling alley, comedy and music venues, grocery stores, outdoor plaza and a movie theater, among other amenities.
“We think this mall will be so unique and special that it will draw people from miles away,” said Sol Barket, partner at Centrum, the company that purchased the mall in 2008.
Residents filled out cards with questions for the developers, which Mayor Jeff Schlink read. The meeting, he said, was scheduled to get a sense of where the community stood on the project.
“I’m still collecting information. I’m still trying to understand all the aspects of it,” Schlink said.
By the numbers
Phase One of the development would include converting 29 acres of the west-side portion of the mall into a new town-center-style plaza that would have entertainment, fitness and shopping options. The new mall would have a total of 317,000 square feet of building. The former Macy’s building would be the only property that would not be torn down for the project.
Phase Two, the eastern side of the mall, would be redeveloped later, but plans are not set. Barket said anything from more entertainment, to housing to a hotel could be a possibility there.
“We are keeping an open mind right now (about Phase Two),” Barket said.
The estimated cost of the Phase One is $102,113,870. A total of $75,510,323 would come from private funding while $26,603,556 would come from tax increment financing.
Jim Mello, who handled finance questions for the development, said the project could bring approximately $800,000 of revenue for the city by 2016 and would bring the property’s assessed valued to $14,304,000 also by 2016, which would mean more money for the school district as well, he said.
The project would bring 1,400 permanent jobs to the area, as well as 250 construction jobs, which the developers said would be committed to local contractors.
Most residents’ comments via the question cards expressed some concern over the funding of the project and competition with existing businesses, although a majority of the comments praised and thanked the developers for taking on the project.
In the subject of the mall hurting nearby businesses, such as restaurants and grocery stores, Barket said he believed the mall would make the entire area more profitable for businesses.
“What we feel, what the experts feel, is that competition is good for everyone,” Barket said.
Barket said entertainment, dining and shopping options would be unique to the area, so they would have something different to offer than existing Crestwood establishments. For grocery-shopping, Barket said they have contacted stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, although it is too early in the project to determine which stores would occupy the space.
On the issue of TIF money, Barket said it would be impossible for his firm to build the new mall without it. He explained, however, that there would be provisions on the TIF agreement so that public funding would come in once the mall is built and running and the money would come from the taxes generated by the mall itself. Centrum Partners would put the initial money upfront, he said.
After the meeting, Mayor Schlink reminded residents to attend the Crestwood Board of Aldermen meeting next Tuesday, in which the board would vote on whether or not to move forward with the proposal. The city will not be voting on a TIF agreement yet, Schlink told Patch. The vote at the next aldermanic meeting will just decide whether or not to continue to explore this proposal.
Schlink said he was pleased with the turnout of the town hall session.
“I’m glad residents got to put their concerns and thoughts out there,” Schlink said. “I’m proud and excited for this project, but we need to do what’s best for the residents and represent their wishes.”
Jackie Mantia, who has lived in Crestwood for more than 50 years, said she was glad something was being done about the project.
"It was about time," she said. "Crestwood is changing, the people are changing and that's good."