The company that owns Deer Creek Center is asking for $8.5 million in public funding to pay for the redevelopment of the mostly-vacant strip mall in Maplewood.
That would help pay for a proposed $27 million redevelopment that includes new landscaping, updated signs and improved parking lots and sidewalks, said Larry Marks, a representative of Summit Development Group, which owns the property.
He made the remarks during the inaugural meeting last Thursday of a commission created to advise Maplewood City Council on whether it should provide public funding to the private development company.
(Get real-time updates on business and other news on our Facebook page.)
In its proposal, Summit calls for $7.5 million in tax-increment financing (TIF). If approved, Summit would make payments toward its debt instead of paying any real estate taxes, City Manager Marty Corcoran said.
Summit is also asking that half of sales and utility taxes be used to pay toward its debts, Corcoran said.
After the TIF is paid off—which Summit expects to do in 15 to 17 years—then taxing operations would return to normal.
Summit also requested an additional $1 million from the city of Maplewood.
Representatives cited deteriorating conditions on the property as reasons for seeking public assistance.
Summit has owned the property for 10 years, but the company has been "hit with certain milestones that continued to hammer us," which delayed development and caused the need for assistance, said Scott Reese, who also spoke on behalf of Summit at last Thursday's meeting.
But even site improvements won't fix accessibility issues, said Glenn Powers, who is representing St. Louis County on the commission. Powers is the director of planning for St. Louis County.
The center's design leaves it perpendicular to Laclede Station Road and Big Bend Boulevard, Powers said, which makes for poor accessibility for shoppers.
"Even if we spend a whole bunch of money on this, it's orientation will still be wrong," Powers said.
Marks said that the Deer Creek Center is "the missing piece" in Maplewood. He pointed to the center's proximity to Sunnen Business Park and other Sunnen-owned properties slated for redevelopment.
"It's important that something gets done," Marks said.
If approved, construction would likely start in November 2012, a city memo notes.
JoAnn Fabrics, Party City, Ross Dress Barn, Sears Outlet and TJ Maxx are reportedly under consideration as potential tenants.
The commission scheduled another meeting for 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 at Maplewood City Hall. It's then expected to offer a recommendation to Maplewood City Council, which will have the final vote on whether to approve the use of public funding or not.
See related on Patch: