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Crestwood Interior, Revisited

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We proceeded inside of the mall, and were met with abject abandonment. One rumor says the stores were all forced to close on March 1st, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. Thinking back, I was afraid of photographing the interior of the mall out of fear of the Leprechauns, but you could probably scream at the top of your lungs nowadays and no one would care.

I always found the Dillard’s wing to be the most interesting architecturally, in all of of its 1960’s modernism, but I was sad to see that the old wing has really started to deteriorate. Pretty much every skylight showed evidence of water damage, and I’ve heard rumors that the whole parking substructure underneath this section is unstable.

Remember when there was just that skinny little bridge over to the old strip mall portion of the complex? Sometime in the early 2000’s it was apparently widened, which seems silly considering it is now all abandoned.

The western end of the mall was never very interesting to me, and it was formless, uninviting and lacking in any real character.

And don’t get me started on that pit of a food court; over the decades the names changed every five to seven years, until it died a peaceful death finally as “Food Terrace.” Greasy Pit of Hell might have been more appropriate.

Update: Demolished in mid-2016.

11 Comments

  1. Do you mean that all the remaining shops were forced to close March 1st of this year? Or that's when the regular retail outlets were closed up years ago when Westfield moved on? Last time that I was there, the GAP (the one remaining big-name retail outlet) was shutting down and I've seen a few of the smaller stores put out advertisements from grand openings in other locations. Guess they're gone too.So how many dead malls does that make in the St. Louis area?

  2. Supposedly that was when everything except for Sears had to be closed. I don't know if that's true or not.Let's see, RiverRoads, Northland, Northwest, St. Louis Centre, Jamestown and now Crestwood; that's six isn't it?

  3. I know that they're closing the Sears now too, so if the March 1st thing is true, then the whole thing is shut down. I know that there wasn't much left, but it's really sad to see such a big part of my childhood abandoned and rotting away like that. Plenty of memories in those walls.

  4. It is sad, particularly because the causes are so murky. Northland and River Roads are fairly easy to understand, but Crestwood is still a strong, middle class area, as is most of South County. I guess it just got passed by.

  5. Chris, Crestwood isn't a strong, middle class area. I grew up in Afton and Crestwood was MY mall, from the time I was a young child and saw the Easter Bunny there to when I was married and looking at their spaces for my wife. I never took any pictures, when I was younger, but I do remember the mall in its heyday, before the remodeling of the middle crossway. I spent almost every Friday night in Exilerama, when I was a teen and it was THE mall to go to, before South County Mall's remodeling. Like some of the other areas, Crestwood area was home to young and middle aged people but they moved out, so all that is left in the area is lower middle class, lower class and lots of older people, 50+. The 50 and over crowd had no use for a Gyro Cafe or even a Baby Gap, so those places closed. Whoever the owners of the mall are, they are greedy bastards. (I mean that in the nicest possible way.) A few years ago, the mall was half empty, they still had many shops open and the Dillard's, Macy's and Sear's were all still open. It was still bringing in some money. But the owners wanted to make use of the empty space, so what they did was offer artists and independent shop owners to rent out these spaces for their shops. They originally wanted to have shops open during normal mall hours and demanded that the owners of renters be present during those hours. They also reduced the price of rent in some of those spaces. For instance, the spot near where Macy's was, had an old spot that was a Starbucks or STL bread company at one point. If they were renting it, I would have been interested in opening a food spot like a bakery. However, the mall didn't want any new people coming in, they wouldn't lower their space renting price and wouldn't be flexible for hours. The mall only wanted money but wanted people who could be there from 9-9 every day to work in their shops. Every attempt in order to advertise or bring more people in, never worked as the mall seemed to be against bringing in the business. Overall, it was as if the owners of the mall were told that in 5 years they could sell the land to some housing developments and they just stalled and wasted the time. It seemed that they never wanted to really make anything work. I know that the mall was closing when around the same time, the Mills Mall started to lose stores. That mall was huge and had tons of shops, but no one wanted to drive out there for a mall. Now, in Crestwood, that mall was perhaps one of the best in the 80's and early 90's. But when you had West County mall get remodeled and then South County Mall get done as well, they pulled people away from the Crestwood mall.

  6. It was my understanding that like many big projects throughout St. Louis that have fallen through, when Westfield sold most of their properties to CDL, they didn't want Crestwood along with some others but this just so happened right before the financial crisis in 2008. The brothers that bought Crestwood had plans of de-capping it and remodeling large portions of it and AMC was on board to completely rebuild the theater. But as I said, the financial crisis hit and the brothers couldn't secure the funding for the project and so while they waited for the economy to bounce back, they offered the short-term leases to non profit organizations mostly such as the art spots and theater groups. I guess they figured it would at least draw some people to re-brand it as an arts and cultural spot. The last I heard, they were evicting all the tenants (Not sure if Sears is closing because of it or if it was just one of the stores on the chopping block as Sears / Kmart restructure) because they had a plan in place and demolition was to begin soon. They need to do something soon because that whole area is going downhill. The mall used to bring in something around 3 million dollars a year in tax revenue in the area but lately that number is barely breaking 200K. This has caused the tax rates in Crestwood to become ridiculous, I'm talking almost 10% sales tax, and I heard that was about to go up again.

  7. You're right, the Art Space was just filler until the economy began to improve. The Sears was deserted whenever I went there, so that is probably why it's going out of business. All the stores are closed now, apparently.

  8. I learned from some Sears employees, years ago, that the stores in Crestwood were vital training grounds. So, the new Sears employees would get their training there, as well as employees of other stores still there, like the Pasta House Company or the Forever 21. My wife at the time wanted to set up a spot there for a photo studio, so she could take pictures of people, by appointment. The people in charge of the Art Space were against that, as they wanted stores or spots open during normal hours. So, they wanted to hold out and would rather have an empty spot than to have a spot filled part of the time. Well, everytime my wife and I walk through, we joke at how many of the art spaces had signs on them that said by appointment only. So, they were relax on their rules, but now it doesn't matter.

  9. One of the biggest complaints about ArtSpace was "they're never open." Something like a photography studio having appointments sounds reasonable, though.

  10. Wow you dont know what your talking about. Tax rates increase? Um no! Do you live in Crestwood? It still has one of the lowest property tax rates in STL and our sales tax is the same as Manchester's. Get your facts straight.

  11. Do you love in Crestwood? It is a very strong middle class area. What kind of lower class town has houses from 200k-450K? Are you jelous you can't afford to live here? Also sorry your from Affton, what is their school district rank again? Lindbergh's is #1 in Missouri, 2 years in a row. I am lucky to live here!

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