The long-struggling and largely vacant Chesterfield Mall is set to be replaced by a new development that aims to mimic a walkable urban area.
The Staenberg Group, a St. Louis-based real estate firm that is also is redeveloping an outlet mall in the west St. Louis County suburb, has finalized its purchase of the mall and is moving forward with what it’s calling Downtown Chesterfield, the company said Monday.
The move follows the firm’s acquisition nearly two years ago of the Sears department store space attached to the mall. That purchase was made the same week the company bought Taubman Prestige Outlets. For now, that outlet property is being called Chesterfield Outlets and construction there has begun to create The District, which is slated to include a new concert space in addition to other entertainment offerings.
Chesterfield Mall’s sale was finalized Friday, but the price was not disclosed. The Staenberg Group plans to replace the 1.3 million-square-foot building with a mixed-use development to include multifamily residential and office space as well as restaurants, a theater, fitness center, supermarket and pocket parks, according to a news release.
It will be a new life for the mall at Highway 40 (Interstate 64) and Clarkson Road that has struggled to compete against two outlet malls that opened in 2013, and has seen a mass exodus of retailers.
Two of the mall’s anchor tenants, Sears and Dillard’s, closed in recent years, along with the region’s only American Girl store and dozens of other shops. The Dillard’s store, shuttered in September 2016 after a water main ruptured, never reopened; the Sears closed in 2018.
The mall was foreclosed on in mid-2017, and C-III Asset Management, then a subsidiary of C-III Capital Partners, took control of it before putting a majority of it for sale in March 2018.
The Hull Property Group closed on the $13 million acquisition of the mall later that year, but the mall has continued to languish.
Efforts to reach city officials were not successful Monday. Chesterfield leaders have for years hoped a developer would bring new life to the mall and that part of the city. City Administrator Mike Geisel has said the city was not looking for “a Band-Aid-fix” and wanted “some type of transformational change.”
Tim Lowe, vice president of leasing and development for The Staenberg Group, said such a change is coming, although the project will take years to complete. It is expected to cost upwards of $100 million.
“This is the start of a very long process,” he said. Rezoning will be needed, Lowe said, and “public financing always is an option” for a project of the magnitude of Downtown Chesterfield. Massive infrastructure changes such as building roads will be needed, and most of the mall will be torn down.
He said a master plan had not yet been completed, and no proposals have been made for how much public financing it could seek.
Staenberg said it plans to work with Macy’s and Dillard’s, two anchor tenants at Chesterfield Mall that own their respective properties, about their interest in the coming development.
“We’ve heavily invested in the city of Chesterfield,” Lowe said, citing the regional draw of the area and saying the Chesterfield Valley serves as the connector of St. Charles and St. Louis counties.
His company is hoping that appeal will bring people to The District, the entertainment venue it’s developing to take over the Chesterfield Outlets. Construction started a couple weeks ago, he said.
The first phase of the project includes opening the Main Event, a restaurant with activities such as bowling, a rope course and arcade games, on the side adjacent to Topgolf in the spring of 2021, Lowe said.
Also that spring, it’s aiming to open a 3,000-seat indoor concert venue called the Music Factory with a parking garage.
“It’s similar to The Pageant, but the West County version,” Lowe said, saying it will capture a need for a place to hear live music west of Interstate 270. The first phase also includes adding restaurants with outdoor seating.
Nora Amato, executive director of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, heralded both additions to the area.
“For our economic growth, it’s going to be phenomenal,” she said, adding that Downtown Chesterfield’s location in the heart of the city will attract people to move to the area, including young people or millennials who want to stay in the city. And she said The District will provide entertainment options, for instance, for visitors to tournaments at the ice-sports complex.
Still, the end of Chesterfield Mall and Chesterfield Outlets adds to the tally of St. Louis-area malls to close in the past decade — a list that includes Crestwood Plaza, Jamestown Mall and Northwest Plaza.
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