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St. Louis-area businesses purchase Crestwood Mall site, plan to redevelop this year

 The former Crestwood Mall site, shown here in 2019, has been the focus of multiple redevelopment efforts in recent years. “What has always created the biggest challenge for developers is making the economics work," Crestwood city administrator Kris Simpson said.
Wayne Pratt
/
St. Louis Public Radio
The former Crestwood Mall site, shown in 2019, has been the focus of multiple redevelopment efforts in recent years. “What has always created the biggest challenge for developers is making the economics work," Crestwood City Administrator Kris Simpson said.

Dierbergs Markets and McBride Homes are moving forward with a plan to redevelop the site of the former Crestwood Mall.

The St. Louis-based businesses announced Thursday they had closed on the acquisition of the 47-acre property, a long-awaited step after years of stalled development plans for the site. Developers hope to break ground on the project within months, constructing a 70,000-square-foot grocery store and dozens of single-family homes on the property at Watson and Sappington roads.

One of the first large shopping malls in the St. Louis area, the Crestwood Plaza Mall opened in 1957. The mall eventually closed in 2013 and was demolished three years later.

The site has been the focus of multiple redevelopment efforts in recent years, but plans have fallen through repeatedly. For residents who grew up visiting the mall, the property has a lot of “symbolic meaning,” said Crestwood City Administrator Kris Simpson.

“People have an emotional attachment to this site,” Simpson said. “I can't go anywhere without someone telling me a story about how they met their boyfriend in the food court or their parents worked at a shop at the mall.”

But finding developers to revitalize the property has been a struggle, he said, partly because it’s an expensive piece of land to redevelop. Old infrastructure, including the underground garages originally attached to the mall, has to be removed, and stormwater systems must take into account the sloped topography of the site.

“What has always created the biggest challenge for developers is making the economics work,” Simpson said. “Any private developer needs to make a profit, and there’s tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars that they’re going to put into that site.”

The City of Crestwood rezoned the site in November to allow mixed-use development.

City officials have begun processing the grading permits for the project, but Crestwood and St. Louis County will have to approve the final development plan before the businesses can apply for building permits.

Dierbergs Markets and McBride Homes plan to begin grading the site in March and hope to break ground by the middle of this year. The development will include 81 single-family homes, along with a grocery store, retail shops and a public plaza. The residential neighborhood will be connected to Grant’s Trail.

Dierbergs had originally requested $13.5 million in tax incentives for the project but withdrew the request last July. The company will instead use a $15 million tax increment financing plan Crestwood approved in 2016.

The project will give the vacant property a “new purpose,” Dierbergs Markets President and CEO Greg Dierberg said in a statement.

“My grandmother used to take me to Crestwood Mall when I was young,” Dierberg said. “To have the opportunity to revitalize this iconic location means a lot to my family.”

Follow Shahla on Twitter: @shahlafarzan

Shahla Farzan was a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. Before becoming a journalist, Shahla spent six years studying native bees, eventually earning her PhD in ecology from the University of California-Davis. Her work for St. Louis Public Radio on drug overdoses in Missouri prisons won a 2020 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award. 

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