Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Ghosts of St. Louis Centre

During the final days of St. Louis Centre, back in 2005 or so, a handful of decent retailers managed to hang on and thrive as the mall continued its decline. Unfortunately, since St. Louis Centre closed, those tenants have been completely missing from downtown.

Shouldn’t the city have worked with those retailers – Walgreens, FootAction, T-Mobile, Sbarro, Chick-Fil-A, GNC and Payless Shoes – to find other locations downtown?

Just because there’s no mall, that doesn’t mean that these stores could not do well in any of the available street level retail spaces scattered throughout downtown. If anything, a street level location should provide a better opportunity for success than one in a dying, uninviting mall.

Heck, Walgreens and Payless did well with locations on the top floor of St. Louis Centre; despite roof leaks, broken escalators, dirt, grime, deferred maintenance and the myriad other problems that the mall suffered from, people still made the trek up to the fourth floor to shop there. Imagine how well those stores would do on Olive, Locust or Washington – revitalized areas that are much more conducive to shopping.

While these retailers may not be as exciting as say, IKEA, it would be nice to fill up some vacant retail spaces and add some additional tax revenue to the city’s coffers while giving downtown a little extra added vitality. While the rotting corpse of the mall itself remains an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, let’s at least get some of its old retailers back downtown.


Anonymous said...

ikea in st. louis? bravo! I do not understand why there is not an Ikea in St. Louis...There is a HUGE Ikea being built on the south stinky economic collapsing south side of Tampa a 3 hr drive from another ikea in orlando ......but not in St. Louis? go figure

Matt Kastner said...

A good point Brian. An idea how many businesses that were thrown out of St. Louis Centre reopened nearby? I wonder if any did? Sometimes our officials get so wrapped up in big projects that they miss these little opportunities.

A perfect example of why St. Louis government needs to be remade. I'm not necessarily talking about the specific players involved, just the way things work. We have a lot of things holding us back from taking the next step in the redevelopment process, but until we make some changes, we will never be able to regain our true potential. We are too inefficient.