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By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter

CRESTWOOD, Mo. (KSDK) - The owners of the Crestwood Mall are shutting it down and putting up barricades to all the entrances.

Plans to renovate the mostly abandoned facility are in jeopardy as developers accuse Crestwood city leaders of dragging their feet, while the mayor of Crestwood says developers are bluffing.

It is a stalemate that leaves 1.1 million square feet of deteriorating property in limbo and those who live and work in the area with an eyesore that doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.

Chicago-based Centrum Partners have been working to develop the property for five years. Its plans include a movie complex, restaurants, upscale bowling alley, comedy and music club, and small grocery store.

"I like the plan, but I think the plan could be better," said Mayor Jeff Schlink.

Schlink, who works for Edward Jones, wants businesses that will draw people into the city. He doesn't think Centrums current plan will do that.

Centrum has agreed to pay $50,000 for a feasibility study so the city can hire an independent firm to look at the plans. Twice Crestwood aldermen voted against the study.

"It's already been five years, I think our financial partners are ready to put it on the market," said Centrum spokesperson Rebecca Hawkinson.

Both sides know there aren't many buyers for this type of property.

"I don't think they would walk away indefinitely. They already sat on the property five years. They want the investment to happen," said Schlink.

According to the mayor, part of the issue has to do with tax increment financing. The project would cost $120 million, and $34 million of that would come from public financing.

In an e-mail sent to the mayor last week, a Centrum official said,
".....I believe that this deal is all but certain to be killed by my partners.....I have to be honest with you in that I am a bit disappointed in the way you have dealt with the press and the lack of your support on this matter... Centrum has spent 5 years attempting to formulate a responsible yet workable plan to re-develop this property... Centrum and Angelo, Gordon purchased this property years ago with the knowledge that it was in a rapidly deteriorating condition both from a leasing standpoint as well as from a physical standpoint... We purchased the property only after meeting with City officials and seeing that the city was 100% behind a TIF, understanding that it was next to impossible and simply not feasible to develop it otherwise...

"The position of the City may have changed with respect to supporting a TIF, however the dynamics of any number of development scenarios have not... Centrum has looked at and studied Lifestyle retail on this site, big box retail, office development, residential and any combination thereof and there has been absolutely no interest shown whatsoever in anyone pursuing this type of development... We have gone so far as to let a very prominent local developer tie up the property for over 6 months while he went on a road show to allure major retailers to no avail.... The concentration of big box retail at Lindberg between Watson and 44 creates an enormous obstacle in getting people to focus elsewhere... The proximity of the three major malls; South County, West County and the Galleria, make it entirely unfeasible for traditional retail or so called Lifestyle retail to locate here as well...

" If they are ready to walk, then what happens to the site? What happens to the Citizens of Crestwood? What happens to the elected officials who oversaw this result? "

In September, Centrum's last tenant will vacate and the barricades will go up. According to the mayor, the Crestwood mall used to generate nearly $1 million a year in revenue for the city. He believes an agreement will eventually be worked out and that the owners of the property won't walk away from a potential development.

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