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Chesterfield residents cautious about owners of new mall

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – The Chesterfield Mall has a new owner as work begins to change the dying mall, like a phoenix rising from the retail ashes.

The once thriving shopping center, which opened more than four decades ago, now features more empty storefronts inside than open businesses.

Georgia-based Hull Property Group bought the place with a goal of turning it back into a moneymaker.

Area citizens have some ideas of what they think the property should turn into.

“Do something with nature so people can enjoy,” said Raju Mehta of Chesterfield.

David Simmons offered a similar sentiment.

“It’d been nice to see something recreational go in there; that might be kind of nice,” he said.

City officials see the land as Chesterfield’s downtown. The center of the city. They envision something similar to the Streets of St Charles, a project that includes retail, hotels, offices, and residential space.

In its press release, Hull Property Group said it needs help from the community to make the change a reality. It said if they can’t get public support, the “marketplace may dictate an unfortunate and unforgiving future…the mall and the surrounding area is too important to fail and become a permanent blight.”

However, some people aren’t ready to give tax money to a company redeveloping the private property.

“People that own things build their own business (should) pay for their own business,” said Chesterfield resident Laurie Kelley.

Another hurdle: Sears, Macy’s, and Dillard’s all own their stores so they would have to cooperate to make a new project happen.

Chesterfield City Administrator Mike Geisel said the city would be reluctant to hand over public money for a private project, but officials would listen to any proposal.

“I think they need to look at what they have budgeted and see what they can do before they come looking to the people to pay for their project,” said Amanda Govia of Chesterfield.

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