Mid Rivers Mall turns 25 this weekend
By: Michael R. Smith
While Indiana Jones pursued a lost ark, St. Peters officials were pursuing certain revenue in the future Mid Rivers Mall. The mall, which opened with just a single Famous Barr store in 1981, celebrates its 25th anniversary on Oct, 14.
Before 1981 St. Charles County residents crossed the Blanchette Bridge to shop at the robust Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, or over the Boone Bridge to Chesterfield Mall.
“It was a no-brainer,” former St. Peters Mayor Gary Turner said, about the potential success of a mall at the northeast corner of I-70 and what was then Hwy. C. Later, Mid Rivers Mall Drive would be built south of the interstate to provide access to the future shopping center. Turner served the city as mayor from 1978-1984 and saw the first phase of the center built.
“When May built its Famous-Barr store it was with the expectation of ‘build it and they will come,’” Turner said. Famous Barr’s parent company, May Company, owned the property.
The original May sales brochure shown to prospective mall tenants and developers proposed a shopping center with four major department stores and 125 shops. Also included on the property were recreation and residential facilities, including an Olympic size ice skating rink and more than 400 units for families and the elderly.
The ice rink and residential units weren’t built, and the “mall” that opened in 1981 was just the Famous-Barr store. The rest of the center followed in 1987 when Dillards became the second anchor store and smaller retailers and a food court opened.
However, in 1979, when the second span of the Blanchette Bridge opened over the Missouri River at St. Charles it fueled rapid growth in the county. Turner said the population of St. Peters in 1978 was “around 7,000” when he became mayor: In 1984 it had about doubled.
The residential growth also fueled growth for the mall, which now includes four anchor stores—Dillards, JC Penney, Macys (rebranded from Famous-Barr), and Sears along with the smaller anchor of Dick’s Sporting Goods anchor and a 14-screen Wehrenberg multiplex cinema and entertainment center.
Amber Westerson, Group Marketing Director for CBL & Associates Properties — the mall’s current owner — said, “Mid Rivers Mall is delighted to be celebrating 25 years serving the shoppers of St. Charles County.” She also hints that there are other things in store as the mall continues to develop.
“There will be some exciting announcements down the road,” Westerson said. “We look forward to continuing to grow with our shoppers.”
Mall events for the 25th anniversary include a Family Fun Night on Friday, Oct. 11, with a disc jockey spinning music from the 1980s. More information about anniversary events this weekend may be found at www.ShopMidRiversMall.com.