The costs associated with cleaning up another one of Steve Stenger’s messes are going up again.
On Jan. 10, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page requested up to an additional $75,000 for expected legal costs associated with the ongoing litigation of the Crossings at Northwest and Northwest Plaza Office Tower. Per County Council procedures, Page’s request came by way of a formal memorandum.
“The request contract results from the volume of materials and complexity of the investigation and litigation,” Page wrote in the memo.
The Crossings at Northwest and Northwest Plaza Office Tower, located in St. Ann, are part of a controversial lease agreement the county entered into in 2016. The lease involved a 20-year commitment by the county for office space. The former shopping mall is decades past its heyday with property ownership changing hands several times in the past 20 years.
The lease was negotiated under then county executive Stenger and council members seemed to realize shortly after an investigation by the Post-Dispatch in 2018 that they had been “duped.” Cost savings that had been purported as a key strength of the lease agreement seemed to have been misconstrued.
After the federal government indicted Stenger, the council’s Board of Ethics sought answers from the business owners David and Robert Glarner, who sold the deal to the county. However, the Glarners refused to appear before the council last July and that led to the county seeking subpoenas for the two men.
The Glarners retained a lawyer and filed a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court to block the subpoenas. In August of last year, a judge halted the subpoenas so each side could have an opportunity to present their legal case. Then on Jan. 6, 2020, the court granted the county’s request for an additional 30 days to file its response to the lawsuit.
“We are hoping that important steps can be taken in coming weeks to protect the interests of taxpayers and get a better deal for St. Louis County,” Doug Moore, Page’s director of communications, said.
That extra amount could take the total legal bill to as much as $225,000 given the prior authorizations granted by the council.
“The additional $75,000 pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars that the current leases may cost county taxpayers if this matter is not resolved favorably,” Page wrote in his request.
Page was not in attendance for the Jan. 14 council meeting, but his memorandum was placed into the record. The council could vote on the additional funds as early as next week.