UPDATED at 3:45 Friday
Gas service to Jamestown Mall has been restored after the mall's owner reached an agreement with Laclede Gas, according to a St. Louis County official.
David Wrone, the public information manager for the public works department, said the utility company has agreed to give the mall a month to pay off an outstanding bill. But in the meantime, gas service is expected to be restored today.
The restoration of heat to the common areas and movie theaters should stave off a potential shut down of the mall, which had been a possibility if the mall did not properly heat the building to an acceptable level.
Here is our earlier story:
After having its gas shut off, Jamestown Mall is at risk of being closed down temporarily by county officials if the shopping center can’t work out a deal to have the heat turned on by today.
The mall’s manager, Mike Kohan, said he is working with Laclede Gas and county officials to get the situation resolved so the mall can remain open. He said the issue stems from thousands of dollars in unpaid bills from the previous owner.
A new owner took over the mall in recent weeks, he said. The struggling mall was previously foreclosed upon and then put up for sale.
David Wrone, public information manager for St. Louis County’s Department of Public Works, said the county first received a complaint this month that the movie theater in the mall was too cold. When county officials looked into it, they found that the temperature inside had dropped below 68 degrees, which put it in violation of the commercial building code, he said.
“It was uncomfortably cold,” Wrone said.
The reason: The gas was not on. It was unclear how long the mall had been without gas.
Wrone noted that the common areas and movie theater are heated by gas while individual stores were heated by electricity, which was still running.
The county gave the mall until last Monday to correct the situation, Wrone said. On Monday, the mall owner told the county it was working with Laclede to restore the heat by today.
“We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation,” Wrone said Thursday. “We do not want to shut down a mall three weeks before Christmas. We’ll be back there tomorrow to make sure that the gas is on. We’re hopeful that it is.”
While the electricity was never shut down, there was a threat this week that it, too, would be turned off, he said.
Kohan, who previously ran the mall when it went into bankruptcy, said he paid a $13,000 bill to Ameren on Wednesday. As for the gas situation, he said the previous owners hadn’t paid a $20,000 gas bill.
“We’re working through this,” he said.
Asked how confident he was that the mall would remain open, Kohan said, “I’m sure it’s going to be open.”
Ankeneth Corbin, assistant fire chief for Black Jack Fire Protection District, said his department went out to the mall on Wednesday because county officials had concerns about how the low temperatures might affect the pipes and the sprinkler system.He said the department was waiting to hear from the county if further action needed to be taken.