ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – The ravages of time and nature are taking their toll on the long-closed Jamestown Mall in north St. Louis County.
Graffiti artists have found their way into the 1.2 million square-foot complex and left their mark, water’s leaking in and mold is taking over the floors, walls and ceilings, and something bizarre is happening to the vast, empty parking space around the mall according to John Brancaglione, a consultant with Peckham Guyton Alberts and Viets Inc. who recently toured the site.
“There’s something going on that I’ve not seen before,” Brancaglione explained to council members during the first public hearing on the possible redevelopment of the Jamestown Mall site Tuesday evening. “There’s this washboard effect that is happening over huge expanses of that parking lot. I’ve not seen it before, I don’t know what the problem is.”
But it’s something that will have to be addressed if the county is serious about transforming the 148-acre site, he added.
Brancaglione laid at least some of the blame for the decline and fall of Jamestown Mall to sinkholes that pockmark the area surrounding the mall site.
“North county is peppered with what’s called Karst topography, which creates sinkholes,” he said. “So there was a lot of development that was predicated for the market area of this mall that didn’t occur.”
In other words, mall developers were counting on new homes and businesses to rise up and support the mall, but that never happened as builders shied away from all those sinkholes.
Add to that the opening of nearby Alton Square and then the Recession, and the fate of Jamestown Mall was sealed.
By 2008, occupancy had dropped to well under 50 percent, then the big stores began closing their doors: Dillard’s in 2006, Sears in 2009, Penny’s in 2013 and Macy’s in 2014.
That had a domino effect on the north county region’s economy, Brancaglione said, as property tax revenue between 2004 and 2016 declined 90 percent.
Among those negatively impacted by the mall’s demise was Kenneth McClendon, who lives near Jamestown and shopped there all the time.
Speaking during the county council’s public hearing, McClendon said when Crestwood Mall shut down, officials kept up on the coding issues while maintaining the parking lots and the buildings, but failed to do the same thing for Jamestown Mall.
“And I think the reason that happened is because (county officials) don’t really care about north county,” McClendon said.
Not true, according to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.
“There’s demonstrative evidence of how we do care,” he countered. “We focused on this for two years, and we’ve actually taken the unprecedented step of taking these (mall) properties under our own ownership.”
Another public hearing on the matter will be held after the first of the year.
It’s not yet clear what the county might do with the property, or how long the redevelopment process might take.
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