Like many malls around the country, the St. Louis Outlet Mall in Hazelwood has been declining for a while. Today, it’s roughly 92% vacant — but Big Sports Properties has a plan to turn it around. It’s called POWERplex.
By the end of next month, the developer plans to close on a $63 million deal to create a youth sports-focused venue. The plan is to convert the 1.5 million-square-foot mall structure into six sports venues that will host more than 180 sports tournaments, camps and events.
Dan Buck, Big Sports Properties managing partner, detailed the plans Tuesday during a media event on the property.
“We inherit everything that this mall had to offer. Do we have some sprucing up to do? Do we have some work ahead of us? Yes, but these are all things you could never ever afford to do if you were trying to do it from a ground-up-type situation,” Buck said.
The ownership group, which includes St. Louis native and NBA player Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, also aims to put the headquarters for Beal’s elite youth basketball club and training program at the facility.
“This is something that doesn’t just transform sports in our region. This place will change lives and impact kids for decades to come,” said Beal, who didn't attend the event, in a press release.
While most of the mall structure will remain intact, demolition of walls and low ceilings is expected to begin in September. POWERplex plans to reopen existing amenities, including go-kart tracks and mini-putt courses, while adding features such as nail salons, a rock-climbing wall and restaurants with backyard games like cornhole. The developer said it's locked in three of up to six hotels for the space and are planning for at least one convenience store.
The facilities will open on a rolling basis, beginning with the reopening of the movie theater by Thanksgiving.
A temporary volleyball space is scheduled to open for a high-performance club in the fall, and the permanent courts will open by Feb. 1. Outdoor ballfields will open mid-March. All major complexes are scheduled to be completed by next fall.
Ameren, which has naming rights to the largest stadium in the complex, announced Tuesday that it will construct solar panels to power the venue, as well as the homes of Ameren customers in the area.
Value for the region
The public-private partnership has been in the works for about two years. The development project was recently approved by the Hazelwood City Council, which is providing a Tax Increment Financing zone. Buck says the aim of the TIF is to capture 50% of city and county taxes to help pay for operations and a $36 million tax debt on the property.
Hazelwood City Manager Matt Zimmerman said he’s seen similar malls torn down because the land was more valuable than the facility. He said the quality of the mall structure was a big sell for Big Sports Properties — and the deal will be a major win for the region.
“This is our best opportunity to remake over not just St. Louis Outlet Mall, not just Hazelwood, but really all of north county. We really believe this is going to be a great draw,” he said, adding that the proximity to St. Louis Lambert International Airport and a MetroLink stop will help bring in business from out of town both to Hazelwood and St. Louis.
Once the complex is up and running at full capacity, County Councilman Mark Harder anticipates an annual economic impact of $300 million for the area.
“This project will serve hundreds of thousands of young families for decades to come in a wide-range area of sports,” he said.
POWERplex estimates it will serve 2.9 million visitors annually and provide 800 new full-time jobs.
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