Developer's plans for Northwest Plaza go beyond retail

2010-04-01T00:00:00Z Developer's plans for Northwest Plaza go beyond retailBY MARGARET GILLERMAN • > 314-725-6758

st. ann • G.J. Grewe Inc. said Wednesday that it plans to revitalize the dying Northwest Plaza property with some new stores and restaurants, but said offices and warehouses may also be in the mix.

"We don't think it should be just retail," Dave Lehnert, director of development for the Crestwood-based shopping center developer, said at a news conference Wednesday at St. Ann City Hall. There's not enough demand for retail, he said.

"We're going to be developing multiple development plans and see which attracts the greatest attention," Lehnert said. He said the development team welcomed input from the community.

Matt Conley, city administrator for St. Ann, said that based on previous discussions, he expected a large part of the mall to be torn down. "The only thing that will remain is the office tower," he said.

"We believe that based on the company's historical performance and their model — a family-owned company that owns its properties — they have the capital to do this project," Conley said.

Other developers had expressed interest but then returned to the city to say the financing was not available, Conley said.

Grewe will assume St. Ann's option to buy the property for $13 million. The current owners took over in a September foreclosure sale for $29 million. The previous owners paid $45 million in 2006.

Lehnert said the cost will give his company flexibility.

St. Ann's option expires on June 1, but officials said they believed it could be extended. On Monday night, the St. Ann Board of Aldermen approved Grewe as the preferred redeveloper. At the news conference, Gary Grewe, vice president of the company, and Lehnert joined St. Ann Mayor Gary Guittar, County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, Chief Mike Marlo and director Dan O'Connor of the West Overland Fire Protection District and Pattonville School Superintendent Mike Fulton to show support for the revitalization.

Dooley said, "These are difficult times," but also, "a time for entrepreneurs, a time for opportunity" for those willing to take a risk.

Steve Erdelen, a St. Ann resident and businessman, organized a Save the Mall rally and started two websites to help Northwest Plaza. Erdelen said he appreciated Grewe's offer to hear ideas.

"This gives the public an opportunity to provide our input and tell them where we would shop, what we would do, what we'd like to see there," he said.

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