Changes for Watson Plaza

Watson Plaza is the shopping center with the former Shop 'n Save.  As everyone knows, this site has been slowly loosing stores and today has the following vacancies:

  • Shop 'n Save
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Yeti Gaming
  • Pretty Paws
  • Catherines (going out of business)
  • Jack in the Box (closed, TBD)
  • GNC (Filed for bankruptcy but still open)
  • A few other smaller empty stores
This plaza holds a prominent Crestwood location and is important to the entire Watson Road corridor.  As such, city leaders have been working with the owner of this plaza (GJ Grewe) to create a plan to revitalize this site.  The owners have agreed to invest up to $3 million into the site with the goal of signing a new anchor tenant (grocery store or similar) occupying at least 15,000 square feet.  

The Board of Alderman unanimously approved the creation of a Community Improvement District (CID) which includes all of the buildings within this plaza, Walgreens, US Bank, and Jack in the Box.  Starting in early 2021, this CID will create a new 1-cent sales tax that will be collected on all sales within the plaza. Proceeds from that additional tax will be used to repay the developer for the improvements that will be made. 

The establishment of a CID is a common economic development tool used throughout Missouri (and elsewhere).  In fact there are several that already exist within Crestwood today.  The requirements of this CID specify that it will expire after the owner has been repaid for the renovation costs, or after 20 years (whichever comes first).  The owner also must sign an anchor tenant (acceptable to the Board of Alderman) occupying at least 15,000 square feet by July 2023 or it will immediately terminate.  City leaders will hold the majority of director seats on the CID board and along with annual reporting and audits will ensure everything is run properly.

It's a hard pill to swallow to implement a new sales tax (even a small one) that will be used to replay the owner of a business, simply for investing in their own property.  The sad fact is that lease rates for retail space have continued to drop, but expenses continue to rise.  This is a reflection of the abundance of empty retail throughout the country, so to make this site a success will take a shared effort from all of us.  After doing the math, it became clear to me that saving this site will benefit Crestwood much more than it will cost us.

Based upon the projected timeline provided by the owner, it seems that they are hopeful to sign such an anchor tenant by 2021, well before the drop-dead date of July 2023.  Of course COVID-19 seems to have its own timeline for things, so we'll just have to wait and see.