Walls are going up at St. Louis Premium Outlets
By: Carol Enright
If anyone was waiting for tangible evidence that two outlet malls are being built in Chesterfield, it has arrived. Walls began going up at St. Louis Premium Outlets on Nov. 26, just about seven-and-a-half weeks after walls seemed to spring up overnight at Taubman Prestige Outlets Chesterfield, the competing outlet mall just across the highway.
For months, there has been widespread speculation – and cynicism – about the likelihood that two outlet malls could be built and actually survive so close together in Chesterfield. But, now, with both sides moving forward at what appears to be breakneck speed, two outlet malls in Chesterfield Valley seem inevitable.
On Nov. 19, Simon Property Group announced an Aug. 22, 2013, opening date. This is the second time the developer has moved up the opening of its 350,000-square-foot outlet center that will house 85 stores on the south side of Hwy. 40, east of the Daniel Boone Bridge. Simon said its outlet mall is 80 percent leased and announced new merchants Nike, Cole Haan, Converse, Gymboree, Adidas, Wilsons Leather and Claire’s Accessories. They join a previously announced list that includes J. Crew, Sperry Top-Sider, Sunglass Hut, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour, Vera Bradley, Skechers, Nine West, Izod, Famous Footwear, Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, the center’s anchor.
“We’re right on schedule,” said Dean Wolfe, principal of Chesterfield Blue Valley LLC, the 137-acre mixed-use development on which the 50-acre outlet mall is being built.
In September, Taubman announced an earlier opening and said that it would achieve this accelerated schedule by opening the mall in phases. The first phase, 310,000 square feet and 80 stores, will open on Aug. 2, 2013. An additional 140,000 square feet will open in the spring of 2014. Wolfe said the 350,000-square-foot outlet mall that Simon has been describing all along will open on Aug. 22, 2013.
“We have a second phase, but it’s not under construction,” Wolfe explained. “We’ve always just been dealing with phase one. Whereas their project (Taubman Prestige Outlets Chesterfield), they announced 550 (square feet) and then it went down to four-and-a-quarter and then it went down to 310.”
Wolfe said people should view St. Louis Premium Outlets in the context of the larger Chesterfield Blue Valley development, which is zoned for retail, office, hotel, restaurant and entertainment venues. Wolfe also talked about the road improvements Simon is making to the area.
“There’s widening on Chesterfield Airport Road so that all the traffic that is now bottlenecked up there will flow easily – even with the three-and-a-half million visitors that we’re going to have to the outlet mall in 2014,” Wolfe said.
“So this is not just a story about an outlet mall. It’s a major development anchored by an outlet mall,” he added.
And Wolfe said the larger development is getting a lot of interest.
“We have a ton of stuff in the works, probably conversations going on with 100 users,” he said.
“We’re probably going to sell an additional 25 locations – plus or minus five – can’t predict because there’s users that are 70,000-plus (square) feet that are interested, and they will require up to 10 acres. And there’s people that simply want a bank location or a fast food that’s an acre-and-a-half.”
Wolfe said the market for office space is slow, “but there’s a real symbiotic relationship between outlet malls and hotels and eating places.”
Wolfe indicated that the development also will feature “entertainment concepts” which could include places such as a bowling alley or a children’s venue similar to a Chuck E. Cheese’s.
“I can’t give you names, but it will be places where you can go and have fun besides shopping,” he said.