Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Time of change in Crestview Hills

Through dust and mud, transformation of old mall continues

By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

CRESTVIEW HILLS - From summertime dust to mud this fall, shoppers and retail workers have coped with construction hassles while an upscale shopping center is built to replace the old Crestview Hills Mall.

"Our biggest concern is which way we come in and go out each day," said Geri Willis of Taylor Mill, a sales associate at Dillard's.

The department store remains open while work continues a few feet away on a replacement building scheduled to open in mid-March.

"There was a period of time when (the parking lot) was without much lighting," Willis said.

Developer Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate has reacted quickly to a "handful" of complaints about the project, including fixing the parking lot lights, said Crestview Hills city Administrator Dan Groth.

"They bend over backward to help," he said.

Plans for the $73 million Crestview Hills Towne Center, which will replace the moribund Crestview Hills Mall, call for the existing site to be graded flat. Dust from the work so far has coated cars parked near the project.

"We're digging through rock and, when you expose it, it's dry," said J.R. Anderson, director of development for the real estate company.

The Cincinnati-based developer has paid for trucks to sweep up and spray water on the dust in an effort to minimize the mess. But there's only so much they can do, Anderson said.

Long stretches of late summer dry weather put construction ahead of schedule while making dust worse, Anderson said.

Recent rains have turned the dust into mud and have slowed the project to on-time instead of ahead of schedule.

"We can't win, ever," Anderson said.

Meanwhile, customers who use an automatic teller machine owned by Cantle Federal Credit Union must find a new place to withdraw money.

The machine sits above a storm sewer line that will be replaced, Anderson said.

Several tenants have already signed leases, including Abuelo's Mexican Cantina, Banana Republic, Doc Green's Gourmet Salads, Mama Fu's Noodle House, Moe's Southwest Grill, Old Thyme Herbs and Talbots.

Developers are negotiating with several other prospective tenants, including Ann Taylor, Bed Bath & Beyond, Borders Books, J. Jill and Starbucks.

Workers will spend any remaining good weather building parking lots on the east, south and west sides of the new Dillard's, Anderson said.

Work probably will shut down for the winter on Dec. 1.

"For a long-term gain, there's only a short amount of pain left," Anderson said.

The new shopping center is expected to open in October, 2005.

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