Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No one blinking yet in race for Chesterfield outlet mall


There’s still no sign of flinching in the game of chicken between two proposed outlet mall centers in Chesterfield.

Both projects have been going full steam ahead even though it’s apparent that only one will end up getting built.

They both have submitted site plans to the city – though Chesterfield Outlets is a bit further along in the vetting process than its rival. And now St. Louis Premium Outlets has got the ball rolling on applying for financing.

The developers of the proposed St. Louis Premium Outlets recently filed an application with the city to form a community improvement district.

It would raise as much as $30 million through bonds, which would be paid back through a sales tax of up to one percent that would be levied on this property.

I might add that back in October, Stephen Coslik, chief executive of Texas-based Woodmont Co., one of the backers of this $85 million outlet project, said he would not seek tax-increment financing. But he didn’t rule out then the possibility of seeking assistance through other government programs. Now we know why. (Simon Property Group, owner of St. Louis Mills, is the other major partner on this project.)

The city gave a preliminary OK to the special taxing district earlier this month, but it still has to go through another round of scrutiny before coming up for final approval.

In the meantime, the city has not yet received any financing applications from the other proposed project – Chesterfield Outlets, which is being spearheaded by Taubman Centers. But there have been informal discussions with city officials about creating a transportation development district, which would help provide some funds for the project.

The site plans for this development are a couple steps ahead of the other project and have already been approved by the city’s architectural review board and are now going before the planning commission next week.

On a conference call with investors earlier this month, Robert Taubman, the company’s chief executive, said that he expects Chesterfield Outlets to receive final site plan approval and to start construction in April, with an opening slated for fall of 2013.

“With 2.8 million people and no outlet center in the market, tenants have responded strongly,” he said, though he didn’t mention any specific retailers.

So, yes, neither is backing down. It will be interesting to see who blinks first.

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