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Crestwood responds to lawsuit filed by NAACP over use of TIF for Crestwood Mall site development

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 1:12 PM CDT
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CRESTWOOD, Mo. (KMOV) – The City of Crestwood has responded to a lawsuit regarding the use of tax increment financing (TIF) to redevelop the former site of the Crestwood Mall.

The lawsuit was filed by John Bowman and the St. Louis County NAACP.

“We are concerned that the NAACP is engaging in a politically-motivated stunt to try and halt the much-needed redevelopment of the former Crestwood Mall site,” said Crestwood Mayor Grant Mabie. “The lawsuit is completely frivolous. We are not deterred from proceeding, and we are confident we will ultimately prevail on the merits.”

The city previously approved the use of TIF to spur the former mall site. The original Crestwood Plaza opened in 1957 and was converted into a mall in 1984. It closed in 2013 and was demolished in 2016.

Dierbergs and McBride Homes announced the purchase of the property in January. Earlier this month, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the development at the site. The 47-acre Crestwood Crossing development will house a new grocery store and retail space on the western portion of the site, and an 81-home neighborhood of single families houses on the eastern portion. The city said a decision was made to use the already-existing TIF as it was determined that was the best path forward.

According to the city, the petition filed by the NAACP mentions the existence of food deserts in St. Louis County, and how those tax incentives should be used to help address the issue. While the city said they agree with the NAACP on the point, they cannot use TIF to address the issue in areas outside its boundaries, and the redevelopment of the mall site has nothing to do with addressing food deserts elsewhere.

In a statement released Wednesday, the city called the lawsuit “frivolous and costly.” They also encouraged the NAACP to “continue to focus on their important work of pursuing equality for minority group citizens and eliminating racial prejudice everywhere. The City fails to see how challenging a lawfully established TIF district to redevelop a site that has been blighted for a decade is in keeping with that mission.”