The news that Westfield America is selling Northwest Plaza may be a good thing.
It may signal that they're not interested in that market area anymore. Or it may at least mean somebody else is coming in with more interest in making it successful.
Westfield already got a massive TIF to redo the West County Center in "blighted" Des Peres a couple years back. Fergie even came to the grand reopening. I'm not sure what subsidies were involved in the added-on Sears wing and remuddling of South County Center, but I'm sure there were some.
Then there's Crestwood Plaza. Under Westfield's management, it seems to be doing less and less business all the time. Although they successfully (from their point-of-view, not necessarily the homeowners') stopped the Sunset Manor TIF down the road midstream, does that necessarily mean they'll invest in Crestwood without a massive subsidy?
Don't count on it.
As for Northwest, didn't St. Louis County Economic Council already partially subsidize the enclosure of what was the area's largest and last open-air mall, in the late 1980s? I know it's a very different time nowadays with competition from "big-boxes", but what strategy (if any) does the City of St. Ann have for that place?
That section of the county is changing. There's a burgeoning Hispanic population, a sizable African-American percentage, and not nearly as many Catholics as there once were. It's not necessarily decline; it's just change.
But just like in South City, it seems like many political leaders have outdated ideas and expectations about what constitutes economic development.