CLAYTON • The new council member representing north St. Louis County has put final passage of legislation to blight the site of the former Jamestown Mall on hold pending the release of details on future development of the site.
Democrat Rochelle Walton Gray said, “I just need to see what (the county) is trying to do” with property that has deteriorated radically since the last store in the mall closed its doors in 2014.
The parcel falls inside Walton Gray’s North County district.
Walton Gray said she has yet to see an 82-page document outlining a redevelopment plan analogous to the conversion of the former Northwest Plaza into the mixed-use facility that now goes under the name of the Crossings at Northwest.
The document, delivered to other council members in November, outlines four preliminary proposals for “mixed-use village center(s) that can easily adapt to changing economic needs and pressures” on the site of the demolished mall.
“That plan has been shared with the public, it has been shared with the County Council for at least 45 days,” said County Executive Steve Stenger. “Everyone, including the council person, including the public, is able to view that with a simple request. … This is something we want to be interactive with the public.”
A measure to formally blight the property was on the Tuesday night council agenda until Walton Gray announced her intention to stall the legislation at an afternoon public hearing on the issue.
A former state legislator, Walton Gray told a reporter after the hearing that she is seeking guarantees that the site will continue to funnel property tax revenue to the Hazelwood schools and other publicly supported North County agencies.
“It has to be comparable with the rest of the county,” Walton Gray said.
Residents at Tuesday’s public hearing voiced support for mixed-use development on the 148-acre site that was once a regional shopping hub.
But first the county must blight a property that over the past three years has become infested with mold, marred by graffiti and fallen into general disrepair.
A 2016 engineering study also revealed sink holes in the parking lot.
The ownership structure of the former mall has complicated rehabilitation of the property. At its closing, the shopping center was technically owned by five companies.
The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership has bought out three owners and is negotiating to purchase property rights from a fourth owner. Sources say eminent domain has not been ruled out as a tactic to secure the fifth parcel.