A $27 million plan to redevelop Deer Creek Center faced an obstacle on Wednesday evening when three members of a commission charged with overseeing the proposal shared their concerns.
The commission was created to advise Maplewood City Council on whether it should provide public funding to Summit Development Group, a private company that also owns the property.
Representatives from the City of Maplewood, the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education and St. Louis County are among those on the commission.
While a redeveloped Deer Creek Center likely would generate more sales tax revenue for Maplewood, three county representatives fear those sales would come at a cost to nearby cities.
That's because the total amount of sales tax revenues generated across St. Louis County has been flat, said Glenn Powers, director of planning for the county.
By approving the vacant shopping center's redevelopment, Maplewood would simply pull sales tax revenues from nearby cities, Powers said.
That would be fine, Powers said, except Summit is asking for $8.5 million in public funding to pay for the project, which would result in a decline in sales tax revenues for several years. In the Summit proposal, sales tax dollars would be redirected from city, school district and county coffers toward the company's debt.
"We're putting more commercial on the ground than the public can support," Powers said.
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City Manager Marty Corcoran countered that Maplewood is being proactive in its search to secure businesses and ensure long-term stability for the city. He reflected on the city's condition 20 years ago.
"When Kmart left Maplewood, no one felt sorry for Maplewood. No one came to aid of Maplewood," Corcoran said.
He compared Maplewood to parts of North County, where St. Louis County is spending a lot more dollars per person in services, he said.
He also said that Maplewood isn't stealing businesses from nearby cities for this project. None of the potential retailers have a presence in the inner-ring suburbs, Corcoran said.
Multiple retailers have signed letters of intent for space at a redeveloped Deer Creek Center, but none have signed lease agreements yet, said Scott Reese, principal and president of Summit Development.
Negotiations are ongoing with five retailers, though Summit isn't prepared to announce the names, Reese said.
JoAnn Fabrics, Party City, Ross Dress Barn, Sears Outlet and TJ Maxx are reportedly under consideration as potential tenants, notes a city memo.
During Wednesday's meeting, Reese told the commission to ignore the names of retailers that appear in the news, but he wouldn't elaborate beyond that.
Learn more about the project
If you're new to this story, Patch has written several stories about the proposed redevelopment:
- Deer Creek Center Could See Redevelopment, With Some Help (July 13, 2011)
- Deer Creek Center Redevelopment Moves Ahead (Sept. 15, 2011)
- Maplewood Residents Appointed to Advise on Deer Creek Redevelopment (Oct. 18)
- MRH School Board Members to Advise on Deer Creek Redevelopment (Nov. 14, 2011)
- $27M Redevelopment Proposed at Deer Creek Center (Dec. 14, 2011)
A public hearing has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 25 at Maplewood City Hall. The public is invited to share their opinions on the potential development.