Thursday, April 27, 2006

Westfield SubsidyTowns

Westfield SubsidyTowns

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But just like in South City, it seems like many political leaders have outdated ideas and expectations about what constitutes economic development.


Anonymous said...

Joe, news from P-D's Van der Werf is that Crestwood Plaza is up for sale too. Apparently, Westfield's fighting Novus was more to protect their property's sale value, instead of the mall's longevity. From Van der Werf's 4/27 column:

"The story of the failed shopping center in Sunset Hills doesn't want to end. Add this postscript:

Westfield Group, which largely bankrolled the opposition in the name of protecting nearby Crestwood Plaza, may have reached a deal to sell Crestwood."

Urban Review said...

I just hate their "Shopping Town" name for a fricken mall!!!! It is not a town!

Malls are tying. The higher end malls will actually hold on the longest as it will take a while before retailers what to relocate their flagship stores. True shopping districts like downtown or the fake ones such as the new lifestyle centers are the next wave. The suburban mall craze is gone.

Any government that invests in retaining a mall is wasting money. St. Ann would do well to encourage the development of the site and include a "main street" in the development for shopping. The single large parcel needs to get divided up in the process. Make it mixed use and dense.