What’s happening now is change,” Tim Lowe, vice president of leasing and development at The Staenberg Group, told attendees of the monthly Progress 64 West luncheon in January.
Lowe specifically was talking about change in Chesterfield Valley, where The Staenberg Group plans to build a “retailtainment” center to be known as The District.
“About two years ago, they [retail developer and outlet mall owner Taubman] approached Michael Staenberg and me and said, ‘Look, it’s not going to work. The long-term future of the Taubman Outlets is not an outlet mall. It’s got to be something else. … Help us figure out what the right answer is.’ And we thought about it for a little while,” Lowe said. “We thought it can’t be outlet mall. It can’t be a regional mall – Chesterfield Mall was ready to fail at the top of the hill. It can’t be a power center. You have Chesterfield Commons across the street.
“And what happened is we started to realize that TopGolf was going in next door and TopGolf is probably the most attractive, the most sought-after entertainment use in the United States … So as we thought about TopGolf and what we had, the answer was entertainment – retailtainment, the ability to add entertainment and experiences to the retail mix.
Lowe said Staenberg Group found that there are a lot of uses that they could bring in.
He said the question was, “How can we bring some of these people in to create something that is a really unique and fun environment?” The answer: “We came up with the idea to create The District.”
“The District is three specific uses,” he explained. “One is entertainment. Two is food. Three is live music.
“We looked around the St. Louis market. We talked to some of the music guys and everyone came back to us and said, ‘The Pageant does great where it is but The Pageant is not drawing west of [Interstate] 270.’ People who live west of 270 are not going to The Pageant, so how do you create that environment here?
“We decided to create a live music venue … [that] can hold 3,300 people and really recreate that experience here on this site for all those who live west of 270 and in St. Charles County.
“We thought that the combination of live music with food and entertainment really created that retailtainment center.” Lowe said The District is not just the former Taubman Outlet Center.
“We’d like it to include the hotel [Residence Inn planned for the lot between TopGolf and Taubman],” Lowe said. “We’d like it to include TopGolf. Carvanna didn’t make it but ultimately we think iFly [indoor skydiving] is going to go there – and [our plans] include iFly. Ultimately, all of those components become The District.
“The plan is three-fold. The section closest to TopGolf is the entertainment section. The middle section is mostly some of the existing buildings that we’re going to keep. We’re going to rework the food court into a food hall. We’re going to bring in some better restaurants and a great pavilion is being planned. And then the left-hand side where today is the expansion area, where the fence is around the grass that hopefully becomes the live music area, which we call The Venue, with a parking garage and office building support.
“Again, this is going to be a 3,300 capacity, indoor music venue – one level plus a mezzanine and we’ll have live performances that bring people in. They won’t serve food, it’ll be all cocktails and drinks, so that the people who come in can eat dinner beforehand, eat dinner afterward, have cocktails beforehand, have cocktails afterward. It’s all part of that environment that we’re creating to give you multiple reasons why you would want to come to this environment.
“We’re also going to have a parking garage behind it. One thing with music venues is that they are parking intense. So we’re going to build a parking garage in the back that’s just one level above grade and has about 400-450 parking spaces but it will be the parking garage for The Venue.
“In front, we’re going to build a small retail building with two floors of office above. It’ll kind of help us hide the garage; also gives us the ability to create some kind of unique stuff that works with the music venue; that can be music venue associated but also gives us the ability to bring in some mixed use and bring some office and introduce that into the environment.”
Lowe said planning for The District has been intentional and respectful of the needs of existing Taubman tenants.
“The first piece that probably takes off is The Venue because that’s easy. It’s in an expansion area. We see that starting probably later this year with an opening of fall of 2020,” Lowe said. “And I think you’ll see the entertainment guys on the other end probably right around then or just after. So I think that you’re going to see openings between fall of 2020 through 2021, 2022 at the latest. You’ll have that year, year and a half time frame when everybody opens up.
“I think in the end this is great for Chesterfield because now you end up with a really cool entertainment complex. Simon Outlet Mall will get stronger and they’ll have all the outlet tenants. Chesterfield Commons is always going to be the No. 1 power center here in St. Louis and ultimately, some day, Chesterfield Mall gets redeveloped.
“We really believe that [Chesterfield Mall] needs to be a high-end, mixed use, office, residential, theater, retail, restaurant, park, health club, urban, downtown area with streets going through it, walkable environment and it’s going to be that some day. We bought the Sears building to make sure that that’s how it gets developed. We have a vote now.”