County Reveals Plans For ‘Phase in’ Redevelopment of Jamestown Mall

By Carol Arnett

The Jamestown Mall site may become something completely different and it will be a long process. County Executive Charlie Dooley hosted a meeting May 23 to show the Jamestown Mall area plans to interested residents who packed the student center at Florissant Valley Community College. The plan was commissioned by the county and developed by Dover, Kohl and Partners, an urban design firm.

The plan includes a mixed use development, with small shops, restaurants, and housing. There is no developer involved with the plan at this time. Victor Dover, speaking for the design firm, explained that the plan was a tool that the county could use with future developers. The plan outlines what the county would like to see at the site.

“When developers come to the county, they can point to this document and say, ‘this is what we want to see,’” Dover said.

Dover gave some background on the development of the plan. His firm has been working since July 2010 on the plan. They have studied the current mall and the surrounding areas.

Dover also showed statistics about the population density and income levels of the area. He also showed aerial photographs with other familiar sites superimposed over the site to give an idea of the size of the property. “This is a big site,” he said. He showed how the Galleria and Cross Keys have much smaller footprints. The entire French Quarter in New Orleans could fit in the site, he said.

The first part of the plan is what Dover called the “first principles.” These are the basic guidelines that the design firm recommends to the county. They include “reseting” the property in everyone’s mind. Dover explained that this meant that people must stop thinking of the property as useful only for a mall. He explained the history of the property and how, when it was built, it was assumed that housing growth would continue north of the mall. Due to the unique geography of the area, it is impossible to build high density subdivisions north of the mall, so the anticipated population never arrived.

Another principle is to balance private and public interests. Any development must also balance neighborhood desires and developer priorities, Dover said. In addition, he added, it must be “phase-able,” or able to be done one phase at a time.

The ability to be done in phases is important, Dover said, especially since the site is actually owned by five different owners. The mall itself is not owned by the same company. The former Sears store and parking lot is owned by one company, Macy’s, Penney’s, and their parking lots are owned by another company, and most of the rest of the mall is owned by yet another company. Two others own other parcels.

The plan includes four variations. Most of them start with the Sears property. Dover said that the owners of this property have indicated a willingness to sell. That corner is also a logical place to start, Dover said, because of its higher visibility and proximity to Lindbergh.

Some of the variations show the property developed piece by piece in phases. One variation shows a plan that would tackle the whole area at once. Each plan included the mixed use; some have more dense housing, similar to New Town in St. Charles, and some have more traditional subdivision housing. All have a Main Street area on the Sears site.

Dooley said that the county was committed to North County and to this plan. However, he asked residents to keep three things in mind. “First, this is a long term process,” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.” Second, he said that the county would be thoughtful is what it did. “There are no quick fixes,” he said. Third, he said that the county needed to partner with other government entities, business owners, and residents to make the project happen and happen in a way that all were happy with.

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