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Northwest Plaza Demolition To Begin Soon

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ST. ANN, MO (KPLR)-- What was once the nation's largest shopping mall, will be facing the wrecking ball in three weeks.

More than $40 million in tax credits and TIF money is being used to revitalize the vacant eye sore.

TIF and tax credit projects are drawing criticism in many towns, but not here. This redevelopment project is considered key to the future of northwest St. Louis County.

The local developer, the Raven Company, is targeting high density office clients like call centers and a technical college along with retailers for the more than $106 million project.

What once was a regional landmark, that offered a unique shopping experience, bore the brunt of changing shopping habits and security issues.

"The old Dick Clark's restaurant was down there in the corner and The Gap was down further Dillards all the way down at the very end, but this was quite an establishment," said St. Ann Mayor Michael Corcoran.

Mayor Corcoran can barely wait for what he expects will be a transformation for the aging mall once the new crossings at northwest opens.

“It's such a great geographic location in the region next to the airport. You have all the highway locations, this community, this was our identity to everything,” he stated

The 122 acre site is a mile from the airport with good public transportation and highway access.  That's why the developer is keeping the old J.C. Penney's and Macy's stores. They could be high density offices.

The 12 story tower will remain as well.

So far most of the work here has been indoors salvaging recyclable materials and removing asbestos. But that's about to change.

"About 80 percent of the mall to this side of me will be demolished and removed within the next month or two so,” said Mayor Corcoran. “The developers are very much close to the point where they can start finalizing deals with the retailers and who the prospective retailers are going to be."

The fact the mall has been virtually vacant for years made it prime property for tax credit and TIF help.

"It's a perfect use of tax credits from the Brownfield to the new markets   An establishment like this would not take place. It would have sat here vacant for years and years," stated the mayor.

Later this spring the home improvement store Menard's is expected to sign a contract to build a store here, along with several other retailers.

St. Ann, Bridgeton and Maryland Heights are already talking about working to revitalize the adjoining Lindbergh Boulevard corridor which has shared hard times with Northwest Plaza.