Northwest Plaza; St. Ann, Missouri

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Located in the solidly middle class north county suburbs of St. Louis, Northwest Plaza has had a very rich and interesting history.  Its ups and downs can be tied to popular trends in retailing, from open air center to enclosed mall; and now, with an uncertain future and new owners, Northwest Plaza is failing again.  But why is this?  We can point to competition and demographics for some clues as to what happened to Northwest Plaza, the largest mall in the St. Louis metropolitan area. 

Northwest Plaza opened in 1963 as an open-air shopping center very close to the airport, along the busy Lindbergh Blvd. (US 67) and also very close to the intersection of I-70 and I-270.  It immediately became the largest shopping center in the St. Louis area, and was also the first to feature four anchors: Stix Baer & Fuller, JCPenney, Famous Barr, and Sears.  Boyd’s, Walgreens, and Woolworth were junior anchors which also opened with the center, and there is also a 12-story office tower at the south end of the mall.  Northwest Plaza soldiered on for two decades as an open-air center, but eventually fell victim to competition.  By the mid-1980s, while Northwest Plaza was a twenty-year-old open air mall, other more popular enclosed malls sprung up in the area stealing its thunder.  In 1976, a large two-story mall opened in west-suburban Chesterfield.  In 1984, the massively popular and upscale St. Louis Galleria opened in centrally located Richmond Heights.  And in 1987, a large shiny new center opened along I-70 about 10 miles past Northwest Plaza in St. Peters

Northwest Plaza Office Tower in St. Ann, MOIn response to this area competition, Northwest Plaza was sold in 1984 to Paramount Group, who enclosed and expanded the mall in 1989.  This expansion added about 200,000 square feet of in-line retail space, as well as a new food court with a new cinema stacked on top of it and a family entertainment center beneath it.  The total square footage in Northwest Plaza after the enclosure and expansion was 1.8 million square feet, with 1.2 million square feet in anchor space and 600,000 feet in smaller stores.  Kids R Us was added soon after the enclosure, and the large two-level Woolworths closed and was replaced by Phar-Mor and smaller in-line store space.  Oshman’s SuperSports USA moved into the former Boyd’s location, but by the mid-1990s both Oshman’s and Phar-Mor had closed and the mall was experiencing more vacancies than ever before.  Apparently the 1989 enclosure and expansion had not stood up to the test of competition from other more dominant centers, which surround Northwest Plaza.

In 1997 Westfield America purchased Northwest Plaza, adding it to its growing portfolio of malls across the nation.  Westfield breathed life into the ailing mall, and under its tenure several national retailers opened in Northwest Plaza, such as Bath and Body Works, American Eagle, Disney Store, and even the Gap which had closed a couple years earlier citing poor sales.  Westfield apparently looked into the future and employed tactics widely used today with failing retail relics, breathing life into them by diversifying retail tenants and changing some retail to mixed uses.  Westfield touted that the mall’s “layers of convenience” pleased a wide range of shoppers, from the upper class female who shops for designer labels at the department stores to budget-oriented families looking for bargains at Family Dollar.  Office Max even opened in the mall, which was one of the first Office Max stores in an enclosed mall.  In addition, services such as a Post Office, dry cleaners, and medical offices were available at the mall and its adjoining 12-story office tower.  Northwest Plaza enjoyed a great deal of success, bringing occupancy up to a maximum of 96 percent during the late 90s and through the turn of the century.

Northwest Plaza Macy's court in St. Ann, MOHowever, Northwest Plaza’s fortunes changed dramatically for the worse beginning around 2002, when everything began to slowly unravel.  The slowdown of the economy, ever-increasing competition, and some failed renovation efforts have sent the mall into a downward spiral, and today it is a hulking shell of its former self with an alarming vacancy rate.  Despite Westfield’s efforts which sustained and even raised the mall’s clout in the late 1990s, stores began leaving en masse.  Several planned renovations failed, including one which was to feature St. Louis’ first Ikea store and certainly would have saved the mall.  JCPenney announced they were closing in 2002, vacating 200,000 square feet of space.  Also in 2002, West County Center was rebuilt as an upscale enclosed mall just 10 minutes to the south along I-270.  Then, in 2003, both Office Max and Burlington Coat Factory closed, the latter jumping ship for the massive St. Louis Mills mall which is about 10 minutes away in Bridgeton and opened the same year.  In 2004, the vacancy rate was just over 20 percent, and in 2005 the movie theatre above the food court closed.  The lone reprieve to the mall’s spiral of death has been the appearance of Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear, which has moved into vacant retail spaces in enclosed malls across the country.  It replaced the vacant JCPenney in 2004, and at the time was the largest store in the chain.

Today, Northwest Plaza is alarmingly vacant.  The Gap, American Eagle, Bath and Body Works, and many other in-line stores have jumped ship very recently.  Several corridors are completely without stores.  The food court, which in 2002 was nearly full, has only three outlets.  Westfield realized the mall was a sinking ship and unloaded it in 2006 to Somera Capital Management with General Growth acting as manager.  Famous Barr also became Macy’s in 2006.  Interestingly, because Westfield owns its own rather generic signage, once the mall was sold all the signage on the outside and inside had to be changed immediately.  A sign currently sits at the food court entrance apologizing for how terrible the mall is, and gives a rather vague promise to do something about that.  We’ll see.

Northwest Plaza directory in St. Ann, MOI first visited Northwest Plaza on a family vacation in 1993, which was not long after its enclosure and expansion.  The mall did seem new to me, and amazingly impressive.  Caldor and I visited the mall together in 1999, and I’ve been back several times since.  The decor and layout of Northwest Plaza is five-star amazing, with three separate, gigantic center court areas with VERY tall ceilings and mall corridors zig-zagging between them, and also long side-hallways with many more stores.  The office tower and south end of the mall also has several stores such as Family Dollar that appear to be mostly predicated on outside access, and the food court featured a sunken entertainment area featuring a Tilt! Family Entertainment Center, which has also since closed.  The food court also had large windows which faced out on this sunken area, and several sit-down restaurants also lined the sunken area with outside seating.  These have all closed, save for a St. Louis Bread Company which should look familiar to most of you since it is really just Panera Bread in disguise.  Finally, here’s what it looks like from space

It seems Northwest Plaza has fallen victim to other modern successful malls with staying power like Mid Rivers Mall, Chesterfield Mall and St. Louis Galleria, and also extensively renovated malls like West County Center.  In addition, the solidly blue collar demographics of the immediate area have not helped it position itself with upscale stores, as the upscale areas around the mall probably shop at West County, the Galleria, or even Plaza Frontenac which is not far away.  Those in St. Charles and St. Charles County, which is just a few minutes from Northwest Plaza, definitely shop at Mid Rivers and the massive strip of boxes around it, and ignore this older area around the airport.  Despite the 1989 enclosure and expansion, and being the largest mall in Missouri, Northwest Plaza will have to reposition itself even further in the future to remain viable at all.

Here are some pictures from January 2002 when the mall was at the end of its period of Westfield success:

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

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Northwest Plaza American Eagle in St. Ann, MO northwest-plaza-49.jpg Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza Sears in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza food court in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza food court in St. Ann, MO

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Pictures from June 2007 with many vacancies and new exterior signage:

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza cinema in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza food court in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza apology in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza Sears in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza food court in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO 

 Northwest Plaza Sears in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza Sears in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

Northwest Plaza Macys in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza Macys in St. Ann, MO Northwest Plaza in St. Ann, MO

 

200 Responses to “Northwest Plaza; St. Ann, Missouri”

  1. This Macy’s reminds me somewhat of the store at Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham, AL.

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  2. Having lived in St. Louis my entire life, I can well remember Northwest Plaza as the best place to shop in St. Louis. I seem to remember hearing that when it origianally opened, it was at the time the largest mall in the country.

    While the area where Northwest Plaza sits isn’t all that bad, they have had some major crime issues with stolen vehicles, carjackings, kidnappings, and some other nasty stuff over the last decade or so, unfortunately making a lot of people believe that Northwest is no longer safe.

    I walked through there a month or two ago to visit the Steve and Barry’s on a Sunday afternoon. Just 6 or 7 years ago, the place would have been packed, but now you can see the tumbleweeds.

    I wonder how the mall would have fared if the late 80s enclosure never happened? And now, there are talks that the mall could be once again de-enclosed, and made into a huge lifestyle center, which likely won’t have the beautiful fountains and charm of the original open air mall.

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    Larry Reply:

    @Mike,
    I can remember when the mall first opened, it was awesome. During the birth of the N.W. Plaza there were 2 other fair sized malls in north St. Louis county, Northland and River Roads, and the inner city shoppers expanded out beings everything they had was closed due to crime and thief and soon the other 2 malls in the early 70′s became un safe to shop and Northland and River Roads became a ghost towns as N.W. Plaza grew and thrived. St. Charles Rock Road, in which N.W. Plaza sits, is a direct road right into the inner city so it was soon becoming a crime center, mostly stolen cars being upscounded into the inner city chop shops and then the city buses were dropping off criminals right smack in the middle of the mall, where Walgreens use to be and there were a lot of grab and run crimes happening chasing shoppers away from the mall. The mall forced the buses out making them have their bus stops out of the mall area. That helped and then the mall decided to enclose thinking that would make things better, however it made things worst allowing the inner city gangs a place to be beings everything where they came from was burnt down or boarded up.
    I just moved back into the area to renovate a house I have to get ready to sell and I hate seeing the mall almost closed down. As a teenager I worked at John Henrys which was a restaurant that had a turn of the century railroad flair in the tower right above where the bank use to be. There use to be car shows there at the mall, the mall at the fountains also was the back set for the St. Louis part of the Jerry Lewis telethon, the fountain area was kind of a central gathering stop to meet, I use to also worked at J.C. Penney’s auto center there at the mall and would lots of times take a lunch break there at the fountain area. Shopping there at the mall in the winter was awesome, it kind of made me think what it must of been like to shop in the inner city back when everybody shopped there at Christmas time. So many people say there is to many malls and the old ones can’t survive….I don’t think so, I blame it mostly on the lack of proper policing and swift no mercy punishment to crime, after all if the mall was safe to be, in which I have been there about a month ago to see for my self it is not due to the thug droppy drawr bangers, if it was safe, I am sure everybody, productive law biding people would still be there along with the stores.
    The mall parking lot use to be hard to find a place to park, now there is plenty of parking right next to the front doors, what a shame

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Larry,

    I agree… I won’t even step foot in NW Plaza out of fear. Better security could really help this mall. The last time I actually shopped there, there were always big groups of ‘thug’ type people crowding the halls, blocking the way. They’d be shouting rude things at people they didn’t know, trying to intimidate them. Kick those people out of the mall so that people that are actually bringing money to your stores can shop in peace! Maybe if they removed the bus stops surrounding the mall it might cut down the number of these types of people. I think they’re going to have to pretty much rebuild the mall in order for any significant change to happen though… they will have to have a way to bring back more classy people that will actually spend money there.

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    Greg Reply:

    @Jennifer, You should see it now. My friend and I just went in there to check things out today (10/13) and it’s so sad. Only the 24hr fitness, shoe repair, and dollar general are there. Part of it is permanently closed due to roof/floor damage (dillard’s court area) as well as the food court/wherenberg section for similar damage.

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  3. Wow…felt like I stepped back into the80′s for a sec…..this mall is ok for it’s time period…but honestly this is as 80′s as it can get. Especailly with all the neon lights and such. But to be honest….it’s prettty tacky looking.

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  4. This is shockingly sad. I remember this mall as thriving, and until just recently thought it was still one of the first-tier malls in the St. Louis area. The contrast between these sets of pictures is like, whoa.

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  5. When westfield spends $$$ & this happends some thing is very wrong!

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    Greg Reply:

    @SEAN, Westfield neglected NW, they put their focus on the new West County mall.

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  6. I remember shopping here in the mid-80s when I lived in Columbia. It was a bit of an ananchronism–the only really functioning open air mall in the area, but it drew large and diverse crowds and was a pleasant place to shop, with a little bit of everything. It would have been very expensive and somewhat complicated to enclose. they did a nice job, although the interior now looks pretty generic. The NW suburbs had a lot of blight 20 years ago, although there continue to be areas of stability and even affluence, as in areas populated by UMSL faculty.

    Northwest Plaza probably has held on because of the decline of other North St. Louis County malls. The troubled malls in most metros seem to be places that have had demographic shifts or simply lack real affluence. St. Louis’ more successful malls are near the West County center of financial gravity.

    The cureall for weakened malls seems to be renovation & expansion, but it seems to fail in the course of a few years if there aren’t the shoppers for a mall. Even hugely successful malls like Tysons Corner, ourside of DC, have vacancies.

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  7. Another big drain on Northwest has been the construction of St. Louis Mills, it has also seemed to affect Jamestown Mall in Florrisant, as well. With the exception of Westfield’s expanded West County, and the Galleria in Richmond Heights, most of the malls around St. Louis are dated, sick, dying or dead.

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    Greg Reply:

    @Mike, Northwest could still be a great mall, it just needs the RIGHT investor with the motivation and time needed, along with the people pitching in and bringing back the neighborhood. IE getting rid of Northwest and Congress Inn??!!

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  8. I’m guessing the blank purple zone was the BCF/Office Max. What this mall needs is a bigbox/lifestyle renovation while keeping the enclosed part. So, Dillard’s can move next to Macy’s in the purple zone. Then, we demolish the old Dillard’s space (and then some) and build a Home Depot or Lowe’s there. Macy’s then would move next to the food court. Then the old Macy’s is turned into a Wal-Mart Supercenter. On the other side of the food court entrance, they could build a new movie theater.

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  9. My favorite aspect of the Westfield affiliation is when a mall like this is called “Westfield Shoppington Northwest Plaza”. That just rolls off the tongue. Now that they have dropped ‘Shoppingtown’ from the name I think it is time to rethink their marketing and drop Westfield as well. Remember when malls were just called “Simon”? Westfield seems as inept at marketing and development as Macy’s these days.

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  10. Viewing those pics, especially the interior roofline/ceiling pattern/skylights, this mall is amazingly similar to Garden State Plaza before its 1996 renovation/expansion.

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  11. Jonah, to answer your questions about the anchors:

    * The blank space below Macy’s was Boyd’s->Oshman’s->Burlington.

    * Woolworth/Phar-Mor/US Factory Outlets was the big 656 space on the lower level, and 651 on the gray space between S&B’s and Sears.

    * 24 Hour Fitness was Office Max.

    * #270 by the food court was Kids “R” Us.

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  12. By the way, I just noticed that the JCPenney was briefly Schweig Engel furniture before it became S&B’s.

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  13. Er, correction. Schweig Engel was in the old Phar-Mor.

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  14. Yeah, the JCPenney was vacant from late 2002 to 2004 when it became Steve & Barry’s. It is actually open as JCPenney in the first set of 2002 photos.

    As far as Westfield, I kind of hate how they established a vaguely boring generic brand for all their malls nationwide, going so far as to technically rename all of them to their former name preceded by Westfield, and curiously never the word “Mall” or “Center” or anything. For example, the former Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet, Illinois was acquired by Westfield some time ago and renamed to Westfield Louis Joliet. I’ve actually seen the local media refer to this mall, and other Westfield malls, as the “Westfield Mall” which is met with locals rather curiously, as they’re not familiar with anything by that name! They also have the same boring signage and decor in every mall. At least Simon, GGP, and the others allow each mall to retain at least some individuality regarding signage and decor.

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  15. Well, Simon doesn’t allow the malls to have their own domain name.

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  16. That doesn’t sound nearly as bad as how Colonial Properties butchers some mall names. For instance, Bel Air Mall in Mobile became the awkward Colonial Mall Bel Air under their ownership.

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  17. I love the layout, but I wouldn’t be shedding any tears for this place…to me it is a very ugly mall displaying the worst of the late 1980′s. IMO, the open-air mall likely had far more charm, and the de-malling with yet another lifestyle center will not do much to bring that back as they do not design lifestyle centers the way that open-air mall corridors were laid out.

    My guess is that in the demolition only one or two anchors will remain and the rest will pretty much be a carbon copy of retail’s latest trend…one that oddly resembles the experimental nature of the 70′s when everything was getting malled only for over half to be demolished due to complete failure in the 90′s. Expect most lifestyle centers to be on the chopping block in 20 years much like this headache-inducing ex-center of commerce.

    BTW, the reference to Stix, Baer and Fuller really interests me. I wish there was some photos of some of the mall stores with the logo, especially since we know it was the major anchor to that incredibly outlandish and spooky River Roads Mall.

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  18. Here’s a 1983 Northwest Plaza ad, courtesy of Malls of America:
    http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/5883/1181/1600/483670/Northwest%20Plaza%201%2C%20St.%20Ann%2C%20MO%201983.jpg

    Also, here are two pictures of what Northwest Plaza looked like as an outdoor mall:
    http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/5883/1181/1600/603290/Northwest%20Plaza%202%2C%20St.%20Ann%2C%20MO%201983.jpg

    http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/5883/1181/1600/665899/Northwest%20Plaza%203%2C%20St.%20Ann%2C%20MO%201983.jpg
    (By the way, what is that cool looking thing on the roof of Famous Barr? And, speaking about Famous Barr, a murder occurred there on December 24, 1994.)

    I must say that I love Sears’ interior entrance to the mall, as I’ve never seen a two-sided entrance like that before.

    According to Wikipedia, the size of each of the mall’s anchors is as follows:
    *Sears: 331,772 sq. ft.
    *Macy’s: 238,493 sq. ft.
    *Dillard’s: 217,906 sq. ft.
    *Steve & Barry’s: 162,000 sq. ft.

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  19. Prangeway, please forgive me for my rudeness. However, this site’s spam blocker just blocked a message that I posted.

    If it’s not too much trouble, could you please find my post and place it here? I apologize for the inconvenience that this causes you.

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  20. You weren’t kidding when you noted how much this mall became drained after Westfield left it hanging. Wow. While I won’t go as far as to say I share a love-hate with Westfield, I will give them kudos for being able to diversify their crowds and really bring momentum into aging centers. Of course, it comes at a price.

    Recently, I made a trip over to “Westfield” Meriden (Meriden Square) and I felt disgust by the overdose of shameless banner ads for crappy overbudgeted movies; all over the ceilings, floor decals and ghastly enough on the elevator doors. It ended up turning my stomach.

    What do you really think of the average indoor mall today? I think homogenous tenant selection is killing them since their interior designs aren’t doing it with all these bland remodels. Couple that with limited selection on general things you can find better priced over the internet. As I walked through the mall the other day, I saw a truth that kind of made me sad – these malls are hardly anything special anymore. Could be they’re already soulless, post-mortem.

    Cool looking Sears though in and out. I, too, have never seen a Sears with a corner presentation. Immediately, I thought it must’ve once been outdoor.

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  21. I’m also confused at why these days, for a mall to be appealing, you need to expose the piping system and the wires. Does anyone know what I’m talking about. I guess it’s nice depending on how you do it, but I find here in Canada, we do it a lil too much

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  22. Shane, I too absolutely hate how removing the ceiling to expose the HVAC wires is so common these days. It is extremely ugly and repulsive looking.

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  23. Amen to the comment about exposed pipes and wires! I don’t understand why there’s such a trend to expose HVAC air systems, and etc. in malls….

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  24. Wow, that American Eagle Outfitters Store must be the oldest I’ve ever seen! The oldest ones I’ve ever come accross were the ones with the natural wood facade from the late 90s. Pretty old school store.

    I can’t believe the complete turnaround in a matter of 5 years from a bustling mall with an interesting mix of national and local retailers to a desolate, empty shell of a mall.

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  25. I kind of thought American Eagle’s logo looks like Steve and Barry’s.

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  26. I work for American Eagle, and that is the original store design from when the company was started in the late 70′s. After that was the more brighter more natural-oak look, then came the current, white board/navy blue front door design.

    btw, since AE is older, wouldnt that mean that Steve and Barry’s logo looks like American Eagle’s?

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  27. Exposed piping! Eesh! Reminds me of the Bells Outlets in Florida except they had this nasty caked grey dust all over the ceilings. Who ever thought faux dust would be a good idea?!

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  28. Actually, exposed piping can be pretty cool. In malls, heavens no, but there was this one H-E-B (grocery store) in Beverly Hills, Texas (a very old suburb in the middle of town–real dumpy there) where there neat lushly painted red and blue piping running across the ceilings. In all directions, too. I thought it was awesome. Until they painted it all gray, anyway.

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  29. What’s whith kc & stl malls, they are 1 dead 2 sick or 3 on life support.
    Anyway if you want to see exposed HVAC visit pallisades center in WEST NYACK NY. It’s like a oversized costco. WOW!

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  30. I was looking up Northest Plaza on the General Growth Properties website, and they have ambitious plans to demall about half of the mall and create a “lifestyle” component in addition to the 500,000 sq ft enclosed portion. They also have architect’s renderings of what the proposed renovations will entail. Here’s the link to it. At leat General Growth is making a conscious effort to revive this mall to its former glory.

    http://www.ggp.com/properties/malltemplate.asp?smuid=838

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  31. That is Famous Barr’s roof…they had this same type roof at South County and West County Center.

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  32. Macy’s looks like a nuclear bunker!

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  33. This is a fabulous blog. I’d like to put in my four cents, if you don’t mind my joining in! Westfield spent a lot keeping the buildings and parking lot from deteriorating further, but they did worse than nothing in terms of marketing. I would say those photos may be from the beginning of their ownership, when they took over a thriving property, but I have a hard time buying that those are from 2002. I don’t believe Westfield ever had any intention of improving that property, but rather making it a magnet for the people they didn’t want at the other retail properties they own in the area, which they were redeveloping and marketing. What else can one conclude from the poor results of the stewardship of one of the largest and most successful retail concerns in the world? The murder in 1994 one of the bloggers mentioned was a gang shooting—again, the result of the “shoppers” that Westfield was attracting with their low-end retail offerings. Their line up had no appeal to any shoppers who lived in the area. The new owners see the potential value that Westfield never developed and are apparently interested in taking it in the right direction. The current low rate of leased space at the mall is because the new owners have not been renewing leases in anticipation of the renovation/construction. Not that the mall wasn’t emptying out slowly, but that’s been part of a planful acceleration to reduce the number of businesses that would be displaced during renovation. Thank you for letting me contribute to the conversation.

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  34. What kind of stores were those, then?

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  35. XISMZERO said: “Exposed piping! Eesh! Reminds me of the Bells Outlets in Florida except they had this nasty caked grey dust all over the ceilings. Who ever thought faux dust would be a good idea?! ”

    That would be spray-applied fire-proofing. Its essentially wet paper pulp that is threated with some fire-retardant chemical, and its sprayed onto the steel structure of the building. Its very common but very ugly.

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  36. Thanks for clarifying, heh. Ugly is the word. If anything, subsitute for safety.

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  37. Regarding the introductory info and history about Northwest Plaza, Stix Baer & Fuller was NOT one of the original anchors. Vandervoort’s was. Vandervoort’s, a/k/a Scruggs, Vandervoort’s and Barney’s, was a classic downtown department store that folded all its locations around 1967 or thereabouts. Famous Barr took over their space when they shut down. Stix didn’t move in until around 1975-1980, when they built a store on the northeast side of the plaza. Dillard’s eventually bought out Stix, and when I was visiting the area in May, I noticed they are clearing out too.

    It’s too bad–Northwest Plaza was a great outdoor space in the 1960′s and 70′s.

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  38. For several years before the mall was enclosed, and Famous expanded, there were two Famous-Barr stores – the old Vandervoorts housed the furniture and housewares department. I believe that building was torn down when the mall was enclosed.

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  39. As for what jamie said, wasn’t the roof design of the Famous Barr/Macy’s store a common design element that May Company used at their other store divisions? (a la L.S. Ayres, Jones Store, etc.) Since I believe I remember seeing this at other Famous-Barrs and at other May stores, pre-Macy’s conversion.

    I really enjoyed looking at the photo comparisons between the 90s and present, since I wonder if the new owners obviously don’t wanna go with neon and all those pastel-like colored lighting along the interior corridors of the mall(back when Westfield ran it), in favor of some other type of interior decor. I’m suspecting the owners are probably are going for the latter, once they begin their renovation of Northwest Plaza….

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  40. I think I see a Catherine’s in the first main picture.

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  41. Jonah, I believe you’re right on the money.

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  42. Why is it called Panera Bread everywhere outside St Louis?

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    Marcia R. Reply:

    @Dead Mallwalker,

    It is called Panera Bread every where else due to marketing to other cities…that is the official name. It is called St. Louis Bread Company in the St. Louis area since it started in St. Louis. I didn’t know this either until we moved away from St. Louis and I went back for a HS reunion and one of my fellow classmates had a spouse working for them. I hope this helps.

    They still have the best sandwiches and Strawberry salads…I just wish they would leave the menu alone and quite trying change it. Everytime we eat there it takes forever to realize it has changed…it is hard to have a favorite when my favorite keeps disappearing.

    Marcia

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  43. Ayers & The Jones Store became part of May in the late 80s; the St. Louis stores were built long before then. Local chains, even if they were part of a national operation had considerable local autonomy up until the early 80s. The May chains I know best–LA, Cleveland, Hartford (G Fox) & Pittsburgh (Kaufmann’s) all used different designs for their stores and often had few branches that looked the same.

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  44. Jones did not become part of May until the 90s

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  45. Dead Mallwalker: See the Wikipedia page, it explains it better than I can.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panera_Bread

    What I’d like to know, though, is the additional improvements planned by Westfield to the mall.

    Finally, on the official webpage of the mall, the logo in the upper-left hand corner has gone to a very generic “Northwest Plaza” as compared to the flowing “festive” logo before. What could this mean?

    [Reply]

  46. Hi joanna let me answer this for you in part. Most mo westfield malls were sold in whole or in part to CBL, thatis why the logo changed. 6 malls in total are part of this transaction.

    [Reply]

  47. Er…either you’ve got the wrong post or you’re VERY confused. I’m going to guess the latter. First of all, who the heck is Joanna? Secondly, the mall belongs to GGP, not CBL. GGP wants to partially demolish the mall and build a lifestyle center while calling the mall “Lindbergh Town Center”. I’m now guessing the logo change is in place while they design a new logo for LTC.

    [Reply]

  48. OK, DEEJ-AY (is it okay if I call you Deej?), one problem with your “Westfield caused the murder” story. Westfield bought the mall in 1997, well after the murder. Their “offerings” did not cause it. The mall has had a bad history. The unfortunate side of all this is the overmalling in general. It’s like Rolling Acres Mall, where their size could not keep up with the other malls, even if it was the largest. The other problem is “too little, too late”. Had the mall been enclosed 15 years earlier (1974) and had a few more solid anchors (Wards and something else), it could have survived to this day.

    The other problem was Westfield’s treatment of the mall. Westfield really DID have plans for the property, Deej, but none ever came to fruition due to general overmalling and the economy troubles. However, Westfield should have added more. Specifically, a more upper-tier anchor and a second floor.

    However, I am curious about the mall. By mixed-use, do you mean changing some old retail into the dry cleaners and the post office and the like?

    What intrigues me more is those random lower levels on the mall directory.

    And can someone PLEASE explain the basement with the Tilt! in it, because I just can’t seem to understand the “sunken area with windows” stuff.

    [Reply]

    Marcia R. Reply:

    @Jonah Norason,

    Tilt was an entertainment area for families…they had a mini golf course, arcade games and other things. I was supposed to be a place where families could go after eating at the food court on the main level and watching movies on the upper level. I always loved the mini golf which had a smaller version of the Arch and a animatronic Mark Twain that would stand when you hit a whole in one. I never like the arcade since it always seemed like they were trying to sell them to you (they had for sale signs on them). I think there was even a birthday party area there as well.

    This area used to be offices before it became Tilt.

    [Reply]

  49. St. Louis Bread and Panera Bread are the exact same company. It’s a complicated history but basicly Au Bau Pan bought St. Louis Bread Co, took the concept national and renamed the stores outisde of St. Louis, Panera Bread.

    The Paerna HQ is in St. Louis, located right across the street from a St. Louis Bead Co.

    [Reply]

  50. This is like Crestwood Plaza along Watson Road (old Route 66) in the southwest suburb of St. Louis. Both of them were open air plazas that enclosed during the 1980s and located next to large boulevards, not interstate highways. I wonder what the future is in store for them.

    [Reply]

  51. Does anyone know where I can find a floor plan/interior map of the mall?

    [Reply]

    Jim Reply:

    @Laura, are you looking for a mall map? If so, I have one from 1997 when I first went there, and another one from 2002 when I went there again. If that’s what you want, I’ll be happy to email you a copy of it.

    [Reply]

  52. http://ggp.com/Properties/MalDirectory.aspx?smuid=838 has site and lease plans.

    [Reply]

  53. Whoops, let me try that again, here’s the URL: http://www./ggp.com/Properties/MallDirectory.aspx?smuid=838

    [Reply]

  54. Does anyone know who currently owns the mall now?

    [Reply]

  55. It’s owned by Somera Management and managed by General Growth.

    [Reply]

  56. THOSE SUNKEN WINDOWS DOWN WHERE TILT IS, WELL THAT IS WHERE VENTURE STORES USED TO HAVE THERE MAIN OFFICES & ADVERTISING DEPT. MY MOTHER WORKED THERE SO I RECALL SPENDING TIME THERE AFTER SCHOOL.HER OFFICE HAD ONE OF THE WINDOWS . VENTURE MOVED THE OFFICES OUT TO O’FALLON AROUND 1987-88. SO THATS THE STORY WITH THAT. AS FAR AS THE MURDER. I WORKED AT FAMOUS FROM 1993-2003. I BELIEVE IT WAS IN THE MENS DEPT. IT HAPPENED AFTER 6 PM. MY SHIFT HAD ENDED FOR THE DAY. I REMEMBER WHEN I CAME BACK TO WORK THE NEXT DAY IT WAS ALL THE TALK. FELT REAL CREEPY AROUND THERE! IS THAT THE INCIDENT YOU ALL ARE THINKING OF?

    [Reply]

  57. Hey! I found the old site for Westfield Shoppingtown Northwest from Dec/02!

    http://web.archive.org/web/20021226175452/www.westfield.com/us/centres/missouri/northwest/directory/

    Cool, eh?

    [Reply]

  58. I used to work at Northwest Plaza (and again at Westfield Shoppingtown Northwest Plaza) and it was amazing the difference that it made over those few years…

    Unfortunately, I was security both times, so I saw a much darker side of the mall than many others. Toward the end of my time there, there were fights, stolen cars, and at least one person with a gun in the mall (who was in my area btw)…
    I still have a soft spot for this mall and the people who worked there, and it’s sad to see it in the state that it’s currently in. Hopefully the new developers can bring back some of the glory days of this monster mall, but the competition is very tough in that area, and I really don’t see it happening anytime soon.

    [Reply]

  59. Hi, has construction began on transforming the mall into Lindbergh Town Center yet?

    Also, can anyone get me a PDF or something of the new floor plan?

    [Reply]

  60. Here’s a timeline so far of the redevelopment:

    http://www.stannmo.org/index.asp?NID=279

    [Reply]

  61. Any St. Louisan will tell you your note about Panera/St. Louis Bread Co. is WRONG! St. Louis Bread Comany started in St. Louis, Missouri years ago. The company opened several other cafes in different cities, but the name of the cafe, St. Louis Bread Company, did not appeal to outsiders. So, the company changed its named to Panera Bread Co. for cafes outside of St. Louis. The company made a rule in its bylaws, however, that any of its original cafes in St. Louis needed to be called by their original name, St. Louis Bread Company. Panera is actually a “cleverly disguised” St. Louis Bread Company, NOT the other way around.

    [Reply]

  62. Despite a large STL student population at Mizzou, all the former BreadCo’s in Columbia are called Panera Bread

    If they renamed the St Louis locations Panera Bread, would there be a a Macy’s/Fields style backlash?

    [Reply]

  63. I wanted to take pics of Northwest Plaza today, however I wasn’t able to get there :-( I did get some pics of St Clair Square in Fairview Heights;

    http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/birdgod1cs/Mall%20Pics/IM000734.jpg

    http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/birdgod1cs/Mall%20Pics/IM000741.jpg

    http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/birdgod1cs/Mall%20Pics/IM000746.jpg

    http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/birdgod1cs/Mall%20Pics/IM000751.jpg

    And a couple of the now shuttered St Louis Centre;

    http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/birdgod1cs/Mall%20Pics/IM000753.jpg

    http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/birdgod1cs/Mall%20Pics/IM000756.jpg

    What the F@@@ is with that round coppula on the 60′s/early 70′s Famous Barr’s?? It does make pretty cool skylights in St Clair Square. I have of these photos too!!

    [Reply]

  64. Check it out! An old (1998) website of Northwest Plaza!

    http://web.archive.org/web/19980611125655/http://www.northwestplaza.com/

    It’s pretty amazing, as there were so many restaurants and stores back then.

    [Reply]

  65. I don’t think the Vandervoort’s building was repurposed to have the game room, food court, and theater, I think that was all done after the renovation.

    [Reply]

  66. The cupola on top of the Famous Barr was a trademarked design for that era of stores. I think the one at South County has one too? But I’m not entirely sure. St. Clair Square over in Metro East definitely has one though, you’re right.

    The wayback machine is a neat function indeed. Some of these stores I remember and didn’t even realize disappeared, like Coda and J. Riggings. I always thought they should have made the Food Court accessible from the Famous Barr end too – that would have made the design even cooler than it already is. http://web.archive.org/web/19980611125820/www.northwestplaza.com/direct.htm

    [Reply]

  67. The redevelopment website, http://lindberghtowncenter.com/ has been down for several days. What could this mean?

    [Reply]

  68. Bad news on the Northwest Plaza front. The website is down, GGP’s website refers to it as “Northwest Plaza”, the lease plans show virtually nothing but blank spaces…it has a true feeling of doom. Guess I was right about the mall…it’s being sold. And worse still, they signed Wal-Mart Supercenter up as an anchor tenant! Will the Wal-Mart peacefully coexist with the mall (Christown Spectrum Mall) or tear out half the mall for a standalone store? (The Mall at 163rd Street). Time will tell….

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2008/02/11/daily46.html?f=et82&ana=e_du

    [Reply]

  69. FYI!!!! Northwest Plaza will be gone and just become a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club!!!

    [Reply]

  70. FYI…. Northwest Plaza is going to become just a Wal-Mart superstore adn Sam’s Club…. No more mall EVER!!!!

    [Reply]

  71. Huh, the website’s here:

    http://www.ggp.com/Properties/MallDirectory.aspx?smuid=838

    http://visitnorthwestplaza.com/

    There are a lot of stores still left, though a lot of outparcels are vacant, which is rare.

    [Reply]

  72. http://northcountyjournal.stltoday.com/articles/2008/03/21/news/doc47e3eba5e0d6b649377457.txt

    It seems that Northwest Plaza is an unsafe place to go, as well as being challenged by competition. Crime kills malls, just like the Mall of Memphis or Dixie Square Mall…

    [Reply]

  73. What I really don’t like about that article is that it gives no actual crime statistics of the mall. Did anything happen there, or is it just a bunch of scared old white people who see some black people shopping there and freak out?

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    @Prange Way,
    Yes there was a lot of crime at this mall. Mills Mall is now the place they go to.

    [Reply]

  74. Well, by reading the comments here, someone was murdered in Famous-Barr in 1994, and the security caught several people with guns, and a bunch of other stuff. Remember, usually the perceived threat of crime is often worse than crime itself.

    [Reply]

  75. (Sarcastic) A crime in Famous-Barr! Unheard off! ;(

    The weird decor IS the murder, i hope they do something about this mall, and fast! It’s one of the prettiest malls i’ve seen! so big, and with a bunch of stores i like, like AEO, which by the way is cuter than the one in my mall :(

    [Reply]

  76. The website is grotesquely out of date. Somebody has to check this mall out. The stores are too static for a rapidly declining mall.

    Also, back in 1989, there was a big “ballroom” themed party! Unheard of!
    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SL&p_theme=sl&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB04C3AB8C9AEBA&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

    [Reply]

  77. Ballroom dancin’!!!?? In a a Mall!!!!??? In the 80′s!!!!!???? Ay Dios Mio! :O!
    You’ve got to be kidding me! I can not belive a mall would host a tea dance! Where they held it? Macy’s….or Dillard’s? Maybe at Bear Fuller and Stixs! :)

    [Reply]

  78. I was thinking more like the mall concourse. Remember, back in 1989, Stix, Baer and Fuller had become Dillard’s, and Macy’s was Famous-Barr. Locals: what are the current stores in the Mall?

    [Reply]

  79. If someone asked me to redevelop Northwest Plaza, what I would do is convert the food court and theater and arcade area into a two-story Wal-Mart Supercenter, with their offices on the top floor.

    Dillard’s becomes a Clearance Center. 24 Hour Fitness expands, sealing off Dillard’s from the mall concourse. The food court relocates outside of 24 Hour Fitness and finally, there’s museums featuring black history and an amusement center for the kids. I’d rename it too.

    [Reply]

  80. Thanks Jonah Norason! The dance must have been on the Concourse of the mall! Why didnt i thought about that during the dance thing! Sorry, i thought that they would take the stuff from stores and dance in there, what was i thinking? Probably on wanting to go shopping there anway, and you are right, Dillard’s WAS a Stix, Baer and Fuller and Macy’s was Famous-Barr way back in the day!

    And great idea about the museum of African American History, the Macy’s i shop at has the Museum of African American Art on the 3rd floor, pass Homewares and domestics, the mall is Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, which also features a 3, you heard right, 3 level Wal-Mart Store, the website below is the mall’s, click on Macy’s and it tells you the phone for the museum

    http://www.crenshawplaza.com/

    [Reply]

  81. Unfortunately Northwest Plaza and Jamestown Mall have become malls for the blacks in the North County area. Now before anyone goes off saying I’m a racist and what not, please let me explain. I take my Mom to Jamestown mall almost every weekend. I don’t desert my local businesses at all. I hang in there and try and support them as much as possible. For the past 7 years I started to gather raw data on Jamestown Mall. Every time I went there I would sit on a bench and enjoy reading a book or talking with some of the people and shop owners and workers while my Mom did some shopping. She’s in her 80′s folks. I would also take a count of those who were white & black. It’s not a scientific survey at all, just raw data here. The first year and this was around 2000, the ratio was like 85% white 15% black. Next year 80% white and 20% black. Next year 70% white and 30% black to where it’s now 90% black and 10% white. I don’t really care, I still like this mall and the people there. But it’s the typical black vs. white issue. One gentleman who runs a hair salon next to Sears sat down next to me and was trying to drum up business. He asked me if I had any problems with a black guy cutting my hair. I laughed as he did too. I enjoyed his straightforwardness. Unfortunately I told him I have my own barber up the block from my house who’s business I’ve given for over 15 years. He understood. I turned the same question around to him and he laughed and shook my hand. We talked for a bit of time. I asked him what he thought the problem was in the mall since he was an owner and I’m just a once a week observer. He said the clientele was too much one sided, too much in the “black” zone. I told him of my observations and he agreed. I told him I really wish white folk wouldn’t let this bother them, and yet I know they do. I still like the mall and would continue to come down to it as long as it was open. People are nice and they’re all trying very hard to keep it open and making a go of it. I know you might think a white guy like myself isn’t telling the real truth, but unfortunately this is the truth and I do hate it. Even comics today such as Chris Rock says there’s two different kinds of malls, one where whites use to shop and left behind for the blacks to go to and the new one where the whites now go to. It’s sad and I really wish people would just go out and enjoy the malls and seeing the people and shops. Support the ones in your own backyard and you’ll be better off for it. And when you go down to Jamestown mall and you need a haircut visit the hair salon right next to Sears, it’s a good place with good people who only want your business and provide you with a good service at a fair price. Let’s help each other out. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL MALL!!!

    [Reply]

  82. I read here:
    http://travel.yahoo.com/p-reviews-2829310-action-read-from-11-prod-travelguide-ratings_and_reviews-i;_ylt=AunmQ53Cu_Dp7Rf0vKaXPH0V9boF

    that the Dillard’s is now a Clearance Center (when did that happen?) and Wal-Mart would go there. A stop by the official website confirms this:
    http://www.dillards.com/sec/StoreHomePageServlet?storenumber=0602

    Wow. :(

    [Reply]

  83. A few questions:

    1) When did Dillard’s become a Clearance Center?

    2) When did Boyd’s open, close, and what was it?

    3) When did Tilt! Family Entertainment Center close?

    4) What crime happened at the mall? There was an article from Google News, but the link was broken.

    [Reply]

  84. The Lindbergh Town Center plan was interesting. Apparently Dillard’s would have become a large, one-level 100K square foot store, and the old food court would become another anchor. Since nothing was ever finalized, I would say that the old food court would’ve likely become a return of a normal JCPenney or Dillard’s. Possibly Carson Pirie Scott. The other…the only candidates would’ve been Wal-Mart or IKEA…neither of which fit a “community town center” feel.

    [Reply]

  85. Steve and Barry’s is closing at this mall…

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2008/09/01/daily44.html?ana=from_rss

    oh no…this mall is doomed :(

    [Reply]

  86. Does Westfield have/had floor plans on their website? I’d like to see them when this mall was at peak…

    [Reply]

  87. I live and have lived directly across the street from Northwest Plaza for 21 years and can tell you that its is worse than any of the sites have shown. There might be 20 stores left there (as of last week). The parking lot is trashed and has very limited lighting. I suspect a lot of the crime came from a very shady apartment complex that is actually located on the mall’s parking lot. The crime around the mall was astonishing in the mid to late 90s. In 1998 myself and a friend alerted the apartment manager to bad smell near the pool. It turned out to be a body that was dismembered in the trunk of a car. Cars were constantly getting broken into and stolen. Since about 2003 this apartment complex has become nearly 100% latino demographic and the crime has dropped dramatically.

    Current anchors are Macy’s, Sears, and I think Dillards is still open. Steve and Barry’s has been the only store with a consistent revenue for a while now though. Stores were leaving for reasons that aren’t noted here as well. The structure is in complete disrepair and has been for some time. In our community newsletter, it was stated that the roof was in such poor shape that many stores were claiming it cost them more than they could profit because of water damage to their items. The electrical system is from 1963 with additions to it in 1984 and is in the basement which nearly always has about 4ft of water in it because the sewers under the mall have partially collapsed trapping all the rain water and runoff in the basement. Don’t believe me? Read here http://www.stannmo.org/documents/Development/NWP%20Plan%20-%207-31-07.pdf

    [Reply]

  88. 1) The article does state the obsolete power system and leaky roof, but doesn’t mention the flooded basement.
    2) Recently I found out that Dillard’s was added MUCH later, not until after 1971! Old aerial of open-air center:
    http://www.historicaerials.com/?poi=1765

    [Reply]

  89. I remember back around 2003 or 2004 a girl was raped in the bathrooms inside of the food court. It was all over the news after it happened. Alot of crime did happen you just dont really ever hear about it at all. I would remember always skipping school to go to Northwest Plaza to see a movie and then play mini golf down inside of tilt. I miss the way Northwest Plaza used to be.

    [Reply]

  90. I did a walk through last week. I found:
    Dave and Barry’s closes Nov. 30. Not counted.
    Sears
    Macy’s
    Dillards Clearance Outlet (been that way about three years) – top floor closed off.
    2 food court (Subway, Pizza Hut/KFC Express)
    24 Hour Fitness in old Kids-r-Us/Office max space
    3 in aisle gazebos, 2 in main court, one in aisle leading towards food court.
    1 St. Louis (Panerra) Bread Company
    20 additional store fronts, one of which is Funcoland on the outside in the old Baskin Robins location from back before the roof. Of the store fronts, only 3 or 4 are chains, the rest are privately owned places trying to create the American Dream. Can’t fault their intentions, only pity their likely fate.

    Tilt closed in August 07. Last spring, a guard took me down to peek in. From the stairs, all that remained were the counters (glass broken) of the golf center, the golf course itself, everything vandalized beyond recognition, and broken connections from the decorative neons, the glass of which was scattered about the floor. When Tilt closed, they tried to find buyers for any of its golf course fixtures, no takers, all was abandoned. The mock of the St. Louis Zoo statue with the animatronic parrot on top was splintered, the parrot gone. The Cardinal tree was pulled completely apart, birds stomped and crushed. The riverboat wassplintered to saw dust, and what ws the fibre-optic wall at hole 18 was a tangled web of nylon threads. Half a million dollars worth of animatronics and hand crafted ornamental fixtures, now just sad landfill.

    And now, with GGP about to go belly up, I’d say it is safe to say that NW will not be redeveloped. Actually, it is very likely it will be shuttered before Christmas. Similar seems to face the St. Louis Galleria, but I would expect someone to step in and find a way to keep that one open.

    Someone asked in the comments how NW plaza might have fared had the roof never been put on. There are a lot of locals who believe it would be far better, because in 2008 it could be marketed as a destination, a shopping experience unlike any other in St. Louis. But instead, it has been revealed how much Paramount Properties cheated in construction when they put the roof on, and statute of limitations has run out to find out what they did and who they bribed to get such under code work approved.

    Can you say River Roads?
    http://www.deadmalls.com/malls/river_roads_mall.html

    Now, it’s more a question of how long until the wrecking ball.

    jt august

    [Reply]

    Jim Reply:

    @jt, so the entire course was destroyed beyond recognition? Was the stairwell walled yet? Not sure if you can tell from the 2007 photo, but they threw up a wall with a door on those stairs, then walled off the entire area recently. The stairs leading to Tilt from the outside are overgrown, and you can’t even tell there are stairs there today!!

    [Reply]

  91. The Tilt is probably some graffitized mess, and what do you mean Paramount cheated construction codes to build the roof? It just leaks and stuff because Westfield never maintained it. I’ll never know what the Tilt looked like inside…what happened to the wax Mark Twain figure?

    GGP really only manages the mall, it’s owned by someone else. But I heard that they’ll be disenclosing it while the stores inside continue to operate. What stores? Eventually, Sears and Macy’s will close…leaving an office tower in a forgotten wasteland.

    [Reply]

  92. I have grand memories of the old Northwest Plaza from the late 1960′s to the early 1980′s. I went into it ONE TIME after they put that Airport-style roof on it, and although I could still walk through and point out where things used to be in the outdoor plaza, I was completely disgusted by what they did to it. CHRISTMAS TIME when I was a kids was a grand affair at NORTHWEST PLAZA and I dearly wish someone out there had photos of the plaza back then. My mother would bring the whole family in from the hinterlands town of O’Fallon, Missouri and we would shop all day at the place. Mom would shop and we would play in the fountains outside. We would always visit the candy shop in the bottom level of Famous-Barr and spend the day. Various visions I have as a child at Northwest included that back lower entrance behind Sears on the lower level lot where you could enter through Woolworths and then go UPSTAIRS near JC Penney and to the fountain that stood between Penney’s and the inner entrance to Famous-Barr. Or we would go up the small escalator at Woolworth’s (As a Kid, a two-level store in a small shop like Woolworth’s always seemed very fascinating, so Mom would always park near there) and cross over to the right to the Walgreen’s store (there was a nearby cafe, whose name escapes me) where they had those swinging gates when you entered. As a kid, I loved those gates. If you cut through Walgreens, you ended up in the “front” upper parking lot, with shops all along it. Turn left and you were ultimately headed to Famous. Go straight ahead through the parking lot and to your right a bit was an old GENERAL CINEMA in the parking lot). Turn right on coming out of Walgreens and you would head down to Styx, Baer and Fuller, then the upscale store. Upstairs in Styx on the 3rd floor, they had a cafeteria with a nautical theme that I have forgotten the name of, but it was a big deal to go eat up there. I would always find the escalators more fascinating than the elevators, but I knew in each store where the elevators were. If today, you go to St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights, Illinois and go up and down the escalator at Macy’s, you get exactly the same feel you did at the old Famous at Northwest Plaza. Anyway, after Styx we would always go back through Sears to get to the lower parking lot. Remember Sears having that kind of granite everywhere with kind of a fading white/yellow paint all over that gave it an older feel than the other stores? I always wonder if that Sears store was there before the Plaza was. Anyway, I cannot remember all the fountains, but I loved them. And at CHRISTMAS TIME, it was an incredible place for a kid, with lights and lighted reindeer up everywhere. IF ANYONE HAS ANY PHOTOS, it would be great to see them. Thanks for this blog, very cool stuff, particularly anything on the old REAL Northwest Plaza.

    [Reply]

  93. The demographics in the surrounding communities have gone to hell. I am sure there is the exception and do not mean to offend, but what was middle class is now low class. Crime and theft is high, profits went down and stores left. A renovation will not bring back people as crime will simply increase with more traffic. Mall is done, put a fork in it…..
    My parents use to own a gas station near the mall until around 2002. Over the years I could not believe how things changed. After numerous drive offs, thefts in the store, and the 2-3 robberies a year they sold.

    [Reply]

  94. I remember going there as a kid. Keith is right – Christmastime was awesome. They used to have a huge Santa Claus on top of the office building that they displayed every year. You could see that thing from miles away.

    [Reply]

  95. Looks like Dillards has started closing down – I drove by NWP the other day, and saw the sign spinners advertising 50-80% Off. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the whole mall locked soon – they are probably losing money just on heating the place at this point. I am going to have to dig – I have some pics of Northwest Plaza somewhere from the Early 90s when Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees played a free concert there.

    [Reply]

  96. Wow, this is sad. My first visit was in 93, and the mall was amazing and impressive. Then again, I was a little kid and impressionble as hell. But still….Metro St. Louis is probably overmalled, so adding St. Louis Mills in Hazelwood 5 years ago meant one had to go. Since Mid Rivers is newer and farther out, in a position to serve a more affluent area, and West County got a major upscale rehab in 2002, I guess this is the one.

    [Reply]

  97. I think St. Louis Mills did it in.

    [Reply]

  98. Too bad to see this mall has been done in, but reading past comments about this mall, and of certain factors in the St. Louis area(i.e. competing malls renovating themselves to become more attractive), I can see why this mall lost its viability. It’s interesting to me how often it seems the moment the perception of crime at a certain mall seeps in to some, not to also mention demographic changes in nearby areas over time, that some whites will unnecessarily turn their backs on a mall so fast. I definitely both agree and sympathize with Larry Krug’s comment, as someone who’s white and does NOT care one bit if I happen to be shopping at a place that may not attract predominantly white crowds. Finally, the past comments seem to confirm that both factors have slowly scared away white shoppers from this mall over time.

    Ironic to think I just went from reading an entry about a mall that started as an open-air center(Golf Mill) to another one that opened the same way!

    [Reply]

  99. @Mike: you were quoted (and this blog was mentioned) in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/business/story/e3b8164bac93eeb98625751800081edc?OpenDocument

    [Reply]

  100. I have many wonderful memories of Northwest Plaza and am very sad it is in the state it’s in now. I grew up in St. Charles, MO (parents’ house is near Lindenwood College) and went to NWP many, many times. Here are my memories/thoughts:

    - As a kid, that cuppola on the Famous-Barr/Macy’s store was always neat to look at, especially from the inside.

    - My first introduction to See’s Candies was at NWP.

    - In high school, consumer ed class always took a field trip to NWP. We go to a lot of different stores, compare prices and features of items, and different groups would go to different restuarants. It was always fun and the mall, which was still open-air at this time, was active, vibrant, and a fun place to hang out.

    - The outlot movie theater, first opened by General Cinema and later run by Wehrenberg, was a favorite of mine. It was a massive building that I believe faced the Lindbergh Blvd side of the mall (feel free to correct that if I got it wrong). It started as a single-screen house, then became a twin, and later a four-screen theater before the mall was enclosed and a new nine-screen theatre opened inside the mall.

    - I never was a fan of the enclosing of the mall and agree with several other posters that it started the mall on its downward spiral. When they enclosed the mall, and took some of the fountains away, I felt the mall lost some of its charm and appeal.

    - The opening of other malls hurt NWP as well. I’m not so sure about Chesterfield as it was a good distance away (more that 20 miles). I’m no expert and this is just speculation on my part, but I think folks in West St. Louis County and western St. Charles County weren’t going to NWP much in the first place. When Mid-Rivers Mall opened in St. Peters, however, it really hurt NWP. The city of St. Charles is less than 10 miles away from NWP and many folks there regularly went to NWP since it was the only large shopping center anywhere near it. I think this holds true for the part of St. Charles on Highway 94 North going out to about Harvester and also on I-70 out to St. Peters and maybe O’Fallon. Those folks undoubtedly found Mid-Rivers much more convenient when it opened in the mid/late 80s (1986 or 1987 if I recall). Again, I’m no expert on this, but I believe Mid-Rivers Mall caused more of a dent in NWP’s business than Chesterfield Mall did.

    - Finally, here’s a rather telling story from one of the last times I went to Northwest Plaza: It was 1990 and a couple friends and I went to the movie theater in the mall to see “Ghost” with Patrick Swayze on a Sunday night. We caught the evening show, around 7:30 PM, and then went home. When I got home and turned on the 10 o’clock news, a story came on that there had been a shooting in the food court at Northwest Plaza, which was below the movie theater. Yes, what you’re thinking is true: someone got shot in the food court while myself and my friends were seeing “Ghost”. Sounds like that was a sign of things to come at Northwest Plaza…by the way, I moved to Southern California less than a year after that incident, and still live there to this day. I try to make it back to St. Louis once a year to visit my parents, but haven’t been to NWP in several years.

    Again, I’m very sad to see the current state of Northwest Plaza, but I will always have my good memories of the place. Godspeed, old friend…

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  101. A few corrections to my previous post…

    …In my paragraph where I talked about Mid-Rivers Mall taking business away from Northwest Plaza, I mentioned Highway 94 North went out to Harvester. I believe I should have said Highway 94 SOUTH. My mistake…

    Also, the Tilt arcade was part of the enclosing of the mall. After I was laid off from my job at McDonnell Douglas in 1991, I used to go there and play Shinobi in between interviews and/or dropping of resumes. Turned out to be the only video game I got good at…and another nice little memory of Northwest Plaza…

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  102. Here I go again…found this website with an old radio ad for Northwest Plaza. It sounds like Frank O. Pinion voicing it. The jingle at the end makes me believe this ad aired in the mid to late 1970s, particularly on KMOX. Check it out:

    http://wtpcfm.com/NorthWestPlaza.html

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    sharyn Reply:

    @Kyle Muldrow,

    Boy did that jingle bring back memories!!! It really sad to see this mall go down the tubes. I do think the enclosing of it was one of the first nails in the coffin, that alongs with other factors that really their is no fix for…

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    Debbie Reply:

    @sharyn,
    That jingle really did bring back memories! I can remember NWP was the place to “hang out” in the early 70′s! I also remember stopping by the mall to after work in the late 70′s! What a shame!

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    edgarw38 Reply:

    @Kyle Muldrow, I sent this clip to Frank some time back after I found it on the same site. He confirmed that he did that ad. He seemed to get a kick out of hearing it again.

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    Rob Hummel Reply:

    @Kyle Muldrow, Just saw your posty about NorthWest Plaza radio ad. It aired on KSLQ in the Spring of 1977.

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  103. St. Louis Bread Company, GNC, Vitamin World and Lady Foot Locker are all gone now.

    Kill this mall and make it quick.

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  104. Just ran across a news story that General Growth Properties, the company that manages Northwest Plaza (and St. Louis Galleria) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Another ominous sign:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=apSnp51kWD4E&refer=worldwide

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  105. The interior of this mall kind of reminds me of Pittsburgh International Airport, which has a mall in the terminal.

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  106. LOOK AT WIKIPEDIA- the mall seems to have undergone a massive fire, and is no more??? I’m going to have to drive out there today, and take a look for myself!

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  107. I just looked on Wikipedia…there’s nothing about a fire on there…

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  108. It was a work of a random vandal.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Northwest_Plaza&oldid=287425947

    What DID happen though is another robbery…
    http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20090502/NEWS01/905020349

    She hid $645 in her underwear? Eww…

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  109. I don’t think the Star Press article is about the mall in St. Louis.

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  110. Uh, yeah. I think this is all a hoax. I don’t see any news stories in Google news about the mall being completely destroyed by fire..

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  111. It would have been at least mentioned on STL Today or the local news. It sounds so vague that it must be made up. No date, time, pictures.

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  112. Can you post an update on this mall? After all, it’s more empty than ever now, as the ONLY chain stores left are Subway and Pizza Hut/KFC (in the food court) and then Underground Shopping, Foot Locker, Journeys, Claire’s, Kid’s Foot Locker, Catherine’s, Lids, Finish Line, and Family Dollar. That’s it. Throw in 24 Hour Fitness, Macy’s, Sears, the remaining dozen in-line stores, and a handful of outparcels. That is sad! The management of this mall ought to be fired.

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  113. It’s the police departments failure to make the mall safe

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  114. as of mid-june, subway is the only remaining eatery.

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  115. It’s a shame that NWP has gone downhill. I grew up shopping with my parents at NWP since it opened & I was a baby then. We used to go to the Zenith Hearing Aids (I’m hard of hearing) & we were there at NWP almost every weekend. I loved shopping at NWP. I remember when Stix Baer & Fuller had the ‘Winter Wonderland’ with the kids (Dolls) ice skating, Christmas decorations everywhere, absolutely beautiful, even the stores in the NWP was decorated in Christmas decorations & all through NWP was decorated in Christmas decorations. You didn’t miss any Christmas decorations anywhere in NWP. It was absolutely stunning at Christmas time…….. I love the old fashioned Christmas, I’m not much for the commercial Christmas stuff they have out nowadays…. Christmas don’t look like what Christmas used to in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s & from 2000 & to present, well Christmas 2008 stores started fading out Christmas, very few places uses very little Christmas decorations thanks to those who complained about stores displaying their Christmas decorations & using the word Christmas decorations/trees, now most places say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, not me, I say Merry Christmas! Yes, I remember the Santa Claus that stood on top of NWP every year & laughed when Santa fell over…… LOL!!!!

    My step father worked for Stix Baer & Fuller as an electrician in the maintinence dept (Spelling may be off) & he got laid off in 1984, so, Stix Baer & Fuller became Dillards after 1984 (reason he got laid off was because Dillards didn’t want to keep Stix Baer & Fuller’s employees, so, he & alot of others got laid off).

    I was hoping that the right sensible buyer would buy out NWP & completely renovate the plaza & keeping the same NWP name completed with full line of security cams, security/electronic sensors & & have security guards at every entrance of the NWP Mall including stores as well. That way the security/electronic sensors can detect any metal objects like guns, knives & etc as well as security guards can check for unwanted items like bombs (there should be a detector/sensor for bombs & etc), guns, knives & etc. If a child/person gets kidnapped then they couldn’t get past the security guards & there should be security guards at every doors like restrooms, food courts, movie theaters & etc, as far as the stores go, where there’s more than one entry there should be a security guard at every entrance of the stores.

    I wish I could buy out the NWP, these are all the things I would do to ensure everyone of their security/safety at NWP.

    I believe several things failed the NWP Mall:
    1. Not enough security 2. Leases/rentals on stores were going up (when Burlington was still there in 2002, a lady that worked there told me that they were moving to STM-St Louis Mills because of crime rates & shopliftings & that the lease/rental on the store was going up) 3. The apartments that’s behind Macy’s & where Burlington used to be was alot of the problems, I knew two people who lived in those apartments & believe me they were GLAD to get out of those apartments…….. I could not believe the stories I heard about those apartments, chilling & creepy & I sure wouldn’t want to live there, not even today, even if it’s improved alot, the stories I heard is enough for me. However, the crimes at those apartments had alot to do with NWP going downhill. We were at Sears back in 1997 & this lady who worked there at Sears knew us really well (we did alot of business with Sears), she told us that the people at those apartments were causing alot of problems for the stores at NWP & that the some of the stores were already closing then due to crimes & shopliftings, (but, it got steadily worst) & the lady at Sears said that the owners of NWP needed to buy out those apartments & demolish it, my Mother & I agreed.

    NWP Mall was a unique Mall & I loved it better when it was an open Mall. It wasn’t all that bad when it was enclosed, it did get a little stuffy in there at times, but, for those whose couldn’t handle alot of cold or hot weather especially if they had health problems like COPD, Enphysema, asthma & etc it was better for them.

    I know there was a fire at NWP, but, I don’t know that it was a 5 alarm. I was told that it was a small fire. Anyway, I hope the new owners will redo/renovate the entire NWP Mall. I really do miss going there……. Feb 2009 I asked the manager at WalMart in St Ann when they’re moving to NWP & he told me that they’re supposed to be moving to NWP in Fall of 2009 or possibly Spring of 2010 depending on the construction schedule. This WalMart is supposed to be the Super Center WalMart with a grocery store like the one in Wentzville & Lake St Louis WalMart Super Centers with a grocery stores in them. We’ll see…….

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  116. Apparently, Hines developed One Northwest Plaza…you know, they later developed The Galleria.

    http://www.globest.com/news/1440_1440/detroit/179479-1.html

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  117. More bad news…today’s Post-Dispatch reports Northwest Plaza will go into foreclosure on Sept 1:

    http://tinyurl.com/n6ywjz

    I haven’t read all the comments under the story, but initially the blame for NWP’s demise is put on St. Louis Mills, then on crime…which also has affected St. Louis Mills!! Very hard times for North St. Louis County right now…

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  118. I’m guessing Mall Slumlord Haywood Whichard is probably looking at this place. Walked through a couple of weeks ago – very sad.

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  119. I really hope that doesn’t happen, Mike…after all, didn’t he buy River Roads and maybe St. Louis Center when they declined…and just let them sit there, decay even more, and not even try to redevelop them? Even though it will never be what it once was, there might still be hope for NWP, but it will take a person with the right heart, vision, and plan to do it…and Haywood Whichard has none of those.

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  120. Is Haywood Whichard the equivalent of Tom Morris, a Texas mall slumlord? Tom Morris shamelessly let Sunrise Mall, Six Flags Mall, and Southwest Center Mall decline. It’s too late for SFM, but the others have hope…I think.

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    Chip Reply:

    @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D),

    Haywood Whichard is worse. Randall Park, Rolling Meadows and Eastland Mall in Tusla are examples of his work.

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    Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D) Reply:

    @Chip, do you mean Rolling Acres?

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    Chip Reply:

    @Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D),

    Yes, Rolling Acres and Tulsa OK. Don’t know what I was thinking

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  121. I just got done reading Toby Weiss’ account of watching the decompositon of Northland Shopping center. How sad. And it looks as though Northwest Plaza is doomed for the same fate.
    I wish I had the forsight to have taken photos of it when it was still an outside mall. It had great beauty and flow. The fountains and artwork we spectacular. I remember as a kid during xmas walking through the place while it was all lit with white lights and these great sculptural reindeers. We didn’t care if it was snowing or raining, we shopped anyway.
    We ate at Wag’s restaraunt and I especially loved the fountain area where the steps were in Woolworth’s. I remember there were like these streams that came down from the ceiling into the pool at the bottom and had beautiful aqua tiles all around it.
    Is that real or am I imagining that?
    Anyhow, it was a very special place that has lasting memories for me, too numerous to go on about here. It all went down hill after the enclosure! What a foolish error that was!!

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  122. I’ve only been here in St. Louis since 2005, and I’m only here for college/university (I otherwise live in Dallas), but I’ve explored the entire St. Louis metro area in the past couple of years and have been inside Northwest Plaza once (not counting the time later that I went to the Dillard’s Clearance Store).

    My visit was in 2006 or 2007, and the place looked pretty dire then as it does now in the most recent pictures. There were a couple of chain stores left (or perhaps were recently shuttered) when I went–I don’t remember which stores they were–but those apparently have gone. The department stores, including Steve and Barry’s, were all still intact, and it was enjoyable walking through them, since they either had two mall entrances, were completely retro inside, or had the weird skylight thingy in the Macy’s (Famous-Barr). The mall interior was also quite unique. Pretty much the entire mall, despite being the largest in the St. Louis area (which isn’t saying much, compared to other places, but still), is single-storey, and there’s a lot of light inside coming from the ceiling areas. However, the materials used and overall structure looked cheap, from the floor tiles to the overhead lights (like something you’d see in Wal-Mart or Lowe’s).

    As for the shops, most of the them that were still open were mom-and-pop hip-hop-themed stores. The clientele was mostly African-American, which, unfortunately seems to scare away white shoppers at almost every mall around the country that has faced demographic shifts. It probably didn’t help the mall’s image that some of the shoppers I observed were teenagers is groups who had a hard time keeping their pants from falling down as they walked.

    Maybe my comments don’t have as much authority since I haven’t lived in St. Louis for very long, but I’m not entirely sure that St. Louis Mills had that big of an impact on Northwest Plaza. For one, the Mills mall isn’t in very good itself, and even when I visited in 2006 or 2007, it already looked pretty dead, especially compared to Grapevine Mills near Dallas where I live. Particularly on the ends and in the back of the St. Louis Mills mall, most of the storefronts were empty. The only healthy part of the place seemed to be over by the Gap and Banana Republic Outlets and the area surrounding the food court. The Saks Fifth Avenue outlet there was part of the “healthy” portion near Gap and Banana Republic, but it pulled out and was replaced by Cabela’s. I’m not sure about the crime around the mall, but most of the land is still undeveloped and is mostly cornfields and floodplain. That said, Jamestown Mall is also in a semi-rural setting that sees less traffic than the Mills and is more out-of-place, but that mall is dying as well. The clientele there is mostly African-American, though, unlike the Mills, and again, that probably has aroused some paranoia in white shoppers and tenants. The Mills’ shoppers are pretty mixed, so I’m not sure it’s so much African-Americans from North County and north City becoming the dominant ethnic group in the malls as has been the case at Northwest Plaza and Jamestown–it seems that part of the Mills’ problem is that it’s located out in the middle of nowhere and in an area where not many commuters pass through.

    But back to Northwest Plaza: what I would like to see happen to it is to have Menards come in and open a store in that space, with outlying parcels being rented out to other stores and restaurants. If you all don’t know what Menards is, it’s a Midwestern hardware store chain, 3rd in U.S. sales after The Home Depot and Lowe’s. What makes Menards different is that they sometimes have eating places and groceries/pet supplies inside, as well as a second storey. There’s one in Columbia, Missouri, actually, that just opened recently.

    @TDL: Wal-Mart Supercenter is relatively new to the St. Louis area because of the grocery unions, or so I’ve heard. In Dallas and Kansas City, though, almost all the Wal-Marts are Supercenters; there are very few Wal-Mart stores left in those areas without grocery stores. St. Louis has also been slow to get a lot of stores like SuperTarget (Target with produce/meat/bakery/etc.), which has already had a strong presence for a long time in Dallas and Kansas City among other metro areas, and even in inner-city Chicago (not to mention its suburbs).

    Another peculiarity about the St. Louis area is how poorly the mall market has done here. I can’t think of any malls besides West County and Mid-Rivers that have done very well. (Chesterfield and St. Clair Square seem to be just doing okay; there are some empty spots in both.) And from what I hear, the Galleria is slowly declining (there were already some dead spots and empty spaces back in 2006 and 2007), and all of the other malls (besides Plaza Frontenac, which is kind of a niche mall but also too lightly trafficked to be healthy) are pretty much dying, dead, and/or outdated. Crestwood is gone, but South County, Jamestown, St. Louis Mills, and Alton Square are all in various stages of grim (though South County is probably doing the best out of all of those). I’m not sure if people in the St. Louis metro just don’t spend very much money or what, but rather than being oversaturated with retail, the area seems to not have a lot of it but at the same time doesn’t appear as if it can really handle much of it in the first place. For one, all of the malls in the region are small, and I don’t know how one could spend much time at any of them. For being the top malls in the area, West County, (even though it’s fared well) and the Galleria are unacceptably tiny. Kansas City is a smaller metro area than St. Louis by about a million people, if not more, but they’ve been able to handle Country Club Plaza just fine, as well as the reasonably-sized Oak Park Mall. Both Oak Park and West County have Nordstrom stores, but if you asked me which mall I’d rather be in, I’d choose Oak Park, hands down. It’s just bigger than West County and gives me a reason to go shop there.

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  123. I work at this mall. The Dillard’s just closed down. The Macy’s is not doing very good. Sears is going to pull out in august 2010 when the lease is over (maybe sooner) . Sad to say this grand old mall is on it’s way to the history books.

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    Kyle Muldrow Reply:

    @Lincoln, do you by chance have a link to a website that says Sears at NWP is closing down? Not doubting your word, since you say you work there, but it’s always nice to have confirmation…

    I believe the Sears at Jamestown Mall closed earlier this year…so NWP is following suit…sad indeed…

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    lincoln Reply:

    @Kyle Muldrow,
    No sorry I don’t. Guess we will see in Aug or maybe Jan.

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    Linc Reply:

    @lincoln,

    Kyle Did you see in the news that Macy’s is pulling out of the mall? Sears is next! At this point I dont see them being there after February.

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  124. One reason why this mall failed: blacks moved in, whites moved out.

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    Nick Reply:

    @Kevin, HOW RUDE

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  125. Bing Maps has wonderful 3D pictures of the mall, including a 1950s script Sears on the outside of the Sears! Two instances!

    Wow!

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  126. Wow, this is certainly an experience, looking back at this place. I was a police officer in St. Ann for several years during NWP’s peak as an enclosed mall in the mid to late ’90s. The first set of photos is what I remember, while the second set is just a ghost town I can hardly recognize.

    Some observations, clarifications and responses to some of the comments and posts:

    * “Larry” blames the PD for not making the mall safe, but in the years that I was there a minimum of two officers were assigned to the mall any time it was open. The mall was even its own sector on the city’s beat map. On weekend nights there would often be more police presence in the mall (6-8 officers) than were covering the entire rest of the city of St. Ann. With both marked B&W and unmarked police cars on patrol outside and foot patrols inside, there really wasn’t a lot more that the PD could do. It’s worth noting that besides the officers assigned to the police substation at the mall, there were usually another 2-3 officers working off-duty security in various stores as well.

    * I spent a ridiculous amount of time at NWP assigned to the “Plaza Sector.” On slow days you’d patrol around the inner and outer loop roads around the parking lots clockwise until you got bored, and then you’d turn around and go around counterclockwise. Once that got old you’d go inside and foot patrol every nook and cranny of the mall until your legs would be about rubber, then back to the car to drive around in circles again.

    More often, however, it was a busy day with shoplifting arrests piling up at the substation for a reserve unit to transport to the city jail. Maybe a foot pursuit or robbery would liven things up, but mostly just an astounding amount of paperwork on everything from credit card fraud to forged checks to counterfeit money to auto thefts.

    * Mall security went through several different iterations, some contracted and some direct employees of the mall. All of them sucked. There were a (very) few halfway decent security officers, but most were wannabe cops whose criminal histories (including some felons) kept them out of real police work. Some burglaries of mall tenants were even found to be the work of security guards.

    * There was an entire class of “shoppers” who would steal a car in the city, drive it out to NWP and abandon it, go do their shoplifting for the day, and then steal another car to get home. There was a ridiculous correlation between stolen vehicles recovered at NWP and stolen vehicles reported at NWP.

    * The murder some referenced was a shooting in Famous-Barr on Christmas Eve of 1994. A teenager in red clothing antagonized a group of teenagers in blue clothing, both flashing gang signs and yelling at each other, before the group chased the victim into Famous-Barr and shot him. I still remember the police chief on the news making a point of saying that “it wasn’t gang related.” Yeah, right. Bull pucky.

    * While some posters have commented on the racial demographics, I think it’s worth pointing out that the type of folks that the mall attracted was a factor much more than the race (though race was related, of course). Quite a few shoppers were middle class blacks who didn’t cause any problems and were just as vital to NWP’s success as any other contributing members of society. The problem came from NWP’s location, particularly in relation to bus routes from north side St. Louis city, and the ease with which city based gangsters, wannabe gangsters and thugs could come out to NWP for a nice day of hanging out intimidating actual shoppers, shoplifting, and generally souring the atmosphere for folks who would otherwise be spending money and supporting the economy. To the extent that any mall becomes a teen hangout, NWP was the one for self-styled gangbangers of both races to strut and preen and get into trouble trying to look cool in front of their peers. It wasn’t a question of “blacks moved in and whites moved out”, as Kevin posted, so much as young, moneyless, aimless criminals moved in and older, moneyed, professional customers moved out. The city and mall management worked very hard to counter this, but the highly visible police presence did just as much to turn off some prospective shoppers as did the perceived threat of crime. Chesterfield and the St. Louis Galleria had very similar crime stats, but when you could go to one of those and not see large congregations of thugged out teens being monitored by large congregations of police officers the perception was that NWP was the more dangerous place to be. Which is, of course, why a lot of the wannabe thugs liked to go there.

    * Despite appearances, NWP really wasn’t as dangerous or crime laden as it was often made out to be in the media. As I mentioned before, other area malls had much the same levels of crime, but an incident at the Galleria or Crestwood wouldn’t even make a blip in the media while something at NWP would lead the news with all sorts of sensationalistic reporting and fear mongering.

    Anyway, with the decline of the mall, the closure of the theater and Tilt, the emptying of the food court and such, I imagine that NWP has fallen off the radar of the undesirable “clientele” as much as it has the shoppers that it desperately needs. This could be an opportunity to reposition the location as another type of destination that won’t become the same sort of “bad news magnet” that NWP was when I left St. Ann in the late ’90s.

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  127. To the person asking what Boyd’s was–it was a junior-sized anchor and sold dressy men’s fashions: suits, button-down shirts, ties, etc. I remember going to one with my dad as a little girl. They went out of business in the early 90s, I believe.

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  128. I worked there for 5 years, and a guard told me of the basement. 4 levels under is a room with Aspestose. One night 3 bums went down there to spend the night, and died there. The ceiling is black, and the roof sags under the doors. It is known as the Crypt. The people in the smoke shop told me they seen strange mists in the cigar room. And to top it off its buried under a Indian graveyard. I still go there because I love the erie feeling of it, and its ghost town like atmosphere. The place is cursed.

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  129. I think it’s going to take a major overhaul to bring this mall back to life. There have been many rumors about revamping the mall. One I heard a while ago was that they planned to put an Ikea store there. I think something like that would be perfect. Ikea would be a great center to the mall, and there isn’t one yet in the area. They need to bring something that the other malls in the area don’t have… but at the same time attract a classier customer base. I really wish someone would step in and get it done.

    My parents used to be able to drop me and my sisters off at the mall for a few hours and there was plenty to do with the movie theater, arcade, shopping and many restaurants to eat at. Now, though, I wouldn’t step foot in this mall.

    I really hope they can somehow bring it back to life, but my expectations are not very high at this point.

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  130. Macy’s is closing here for the January 2010 closings.

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  131. What a shame Macy’s is closing, they will be missed.

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  132. Here’s a link to the story of Macy’s closing at NWP:

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/story/050B88FACDAC363D862576A3000F6A49?OpenDocument#tp_newCommentAnchor

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  133. That article, which does NOT need to be reprinted here is important a few ways:

    The mall has no “real” owner. Any and all redevelopment plans are impossible.

    The city of St. Ann is looking to take the property via eminent domain and start completely over. The structures that may be left are Sears and the office tower, both 1960s structures.

    The downtown Macy’s is closing four floors. Sad. This shows the history that will be lost. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83UYCFfd1g8

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    Chip Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, The top floors of the Downtown Macy’s have never been updated. There are still 1930′s era tile floor numbers by the escalators

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    Linc Reply:

    @Chip,

    The top floor of the Sears is 90% empty only the part that is still open has power to it. When the 4th quarter for SHC comes out It will determine if the Sears will stay open till August or if it will close before. But it will close. Sad I like working there and I love the old Mall.

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  134. I heard that as of Saturday,(01-16-10) Andrews International is leaving the mall to be replaced by Whelan Security. Also, since Macys is leaving it will leave only Sears and the tower on the property. This building at 1.8 million square feet is still the largest mall in the state of Missouri. The public perception is what killed it.
    This could have probably been prevented had NWP put a little money into promoting itsself.
    I worked security at NWP for 22 months. (12-07 to 09-09) It was like working for a dying grandparent. Sure there were times it got scarry, even at times dangerous. But No where near the danger some of the people would lead you to believe. One of the first questions I would get from people was “Isnt there a lot of crime?” I would reply, “Not really…there werent a lot of people there with money!” I saw store after store close. One of the first was Things Remembered to the last one to close when I worked there was “Journeys” The biggest danger at NWP was getting lost in the tunnels that were constantly open and unsecure.
    One of the things I remembered about patrols was going through the old “Tilt” and thinking “Why doesnt someone do something with this. The full sized mini golf course was still there and could be operable with a minimum of effort. But alas, it was viewed as “A black mall” so no one was interested in the space. The food court was horrible, with only a KFC and Subway there. Bread Company was sorely missed after closing. They were trying but it was tough with the sparce crowds there. At the end of my time there, only the anchor stores were keeping regular hours. We would write up stores for opening late and closing early and it seemed like a useless effort. Doors were constantly broken. The garage door in the “Basement” used for deliveries was broken and in the open position for the last three months. Access to the old Venture headquarters was open pretty much till the end of my employment.
    People may ask “Why wasnt more done to secure the premises?” The answer plain and simple…MONEY. The management wouldnt spend a nickle on the mall. When a door would break, it usually sat for weeks or months till fixed, usually with the door chained shut, or locked if it could be. Security vehicles were impossible to fix, most of the time they got fixed by a security officer or management. Tires were repaired a lot of times by officers. Most major repairs were put off until the money was brought up by management, only to pray for reimbursement that would be a long way, if not ever, coming.
    I feel sorry for other officers who stayed after I left. Some really dedicated officers at the mall from what Ive heard are being offered embarassing wages, and virtually no benefits for jobs they have spent (In some cases) many years of dedicated service.
    What killed the mall? The desire to milk every cent of profit out of it, and not put anything into it. And its a shame it had to die this way. It could have been prevented. But no one thought forward on it.

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  135. Blogger and Mid-Century Modern architecture enthusiast Toby Weiss has posted a person recollection of NWP, as well as some information about groups formed on Facebook who are rallying around the mall. Check it out:

    http://www.beltstl.com/2010/01/can-northwest-plaza-be-saved/#comments

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  136. i live by northwest all my life ,as a teen we would walk up there and hang out with are friends ,i love the way it was ,then it went down hill after that they just had to put it in side and i hated it after that …..

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  137. one last cruise night, lets pack that sucker like we did in the 80′s. lay some rubber rev up your motor crank up the stereos yell at girls and make the security chase us around the lot all night.

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  138. sad only 5 stores left i was mad macys was supposed to close today they closed yesterday i wanted some good deals!!!!!!!!!!

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  139. In the mid to late 70′s, I was in HS, and the mall was wide open. Children played every where, family’s, and friends often used the mall to meet, eat, and shop together. We often had to wait in line outside to eat at Walgreens, yes Walgeens. When you walked in, there was an old soda fountain stand with stools and a counter on the right and portioned off on the left were booths just lke any restuarant. Waiting in line was mainly on a sat. or a sun. for lunch. Great food too. The store on the left of this was the actual Walgreens store. Famous Barr would always have a line as well mostly for there french onion soup that no-one could get enough of. If it rained no problem, all around the fronts of the stores was an awning that was substantial for two way foot traffic. Snow in the winter???Just let you know christmas is coming,shop,shop,shop. and after that spring is on the way.

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  140. Sounds like Walmart found a better deal down the road at the Old Granpa Pigeons. They gave up on Northwest Plaza….It would’ve been nice to see an outside mall again. Looks like its doomed…very sad.

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  141. Looks like someone is willing to redevelop Northwest Plaza. Here’s the Post-Dispatch story. As always, check out the comments at the end (and there are a lot):

    http://tinyurl.com/yhmbl3s

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  142. *Our Chance*
    By kiara17ollison
    Northwest plaza is a sitting duck theres no stores no type of entertainment we heard stories and stories of what was to be of Northwest plaza but nothing has happen nothing change but I’m a resident and I’ve been talking to other residents who feel that they suffer enough to have to take or catch a ride cross town to enjoy themselves when Northwest plaza brought family entertainment to their front doors other resident who doesn’t live near the area remember and miss northwest plaza our elders love the JC penny outlet that was there i know if others feel and help me with this petition in a state of mind we can get Northwest plaza back bring stores we dont have near the area restaurants, a theater,clothes, shoes, jobs that was lost, and so much more we have a opportunity to make a change a difference and now heres our chance if we didn’t like the stores that was there at first we can bring others change Northwest plaza all the way around better to and for the ones who needs it, and thats just it not something that we want to change but for something we need to change for the better I just people to help me out with this petition please and thanks

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  143. Just walked around this place tonight. I hadn’t been there since 2004, but the differences were stark. With the emptiness (may 50 people total in the mall on a Friday night and & 5 total places open), It was like walking into a real-life Fallout 3. I may go back soon and get some pictures that I’d love to give to the site. For us who remember the mall as kids, it was insane.

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  144. Yesterday, I drove around the mall and noticed that Sears has “store-closing sale” signs up in the windows. I’m a bit surprised that this was not covered in any local media. Well, with the Sears closing, the mall will be, for all intents and purposes, abandoned and vacant.

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  145. My heart is broken today.

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  146. Here’s an article from the St. Louis Business Journal about Sears closign at NWP:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2010/04/19/daily26.html?ana=from_rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bizj_stlouis+%28St.+Louis+Business+Journal%29

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  147. It was a great mall and I thought maybe I was wrong about sears. I hope the mall will be redone and opened again.

    RIP NWP

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  148. I made a Wiki for Northwest Plaza. Please feel free to edit this and preserve the memory of NWP!

    http://northwestplaza.wikia.com/

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  149. I have a lot of pictures from 2010. That’s too funny that we both took the same picture of the concrete steps outside!

    You can see some more pictures here:

    http://www.undergroundozarks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6782

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  150. Nice pics, Mandi. So was Underground Station the only inline store left?

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  151. Wow, so the food court is totally emptied out now!

    Questions:

    1) Is the HVAC still on?
    2) Is the office tower still open?

    Looks like the 24 Hour Fitness Active may still be open.

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  152. Just coming back from the Last dying day of Sears at the mall here at the northwest plaza and drivin at the mall seeing itself bout die here. Its just sad seeing all this and how this is happening. man i remember the old days when i was a kid going to the tilt playing downstairs in the arcade i remember going downstairs from that funny entrance thing i think i only went up to movie theatre once i barely remember. but man i remember all the games and the big mini golf they had it was huge man and i had a blast i miss the old days same with crestwood and the exelhrama place they had. Its just really sad seeing this looking back at the old days i hope they do something about it. I was just looking around the other day and its just sad. lol was a little weirded out walking down an empty ahile this one guy was starin at me thinkin he wanted to do something lol. It was the place to be as a kid. Growing up though made me realizing something was gonna happen (i remember around 1999-2002 goin to mall weird things happening when it was awsome mall to me) when i was in tilt basement and there wasnt as many arcade games as they was like when i play street fighter waited in line to put quarter in game. There was guy walked up to me wanted to sell his tickets he wanted to meet in bathroom i gave him few dollars he gave me tickets it was weird i was a kid so i didnt know lol. and also going to toys r us right there and manager guy said we could not be in store have to be with an 18 yr old or older adult with us. it was getting weirder and weider over there and i guess i wasnt realizing over the years how it would end up like this till it hits u and u actually see it like this when u go every few years and see the demise of the mall. and i see 1 security guard sittin at thing and 1 janitor in whole mall cuz of only 5 stores left in the whole place. plus size, family dollar, 24 hr fitness, station and kids foot locker. also kinda weird by office buildings there is a hair place too. man just remember as a kid also i drove by the other movie theatre which was across the street its now a church. I saw the AMC still on the doors I was like wow. and i went up to it and looked thru teh doors and it still has the booths and everything and it was bringing me back man when i was a kid when i went to see movie i remember seeing Master P movie lol! and playing in the little arcade area too. They really need to bring back arcades and tilt man arcades are DYING really bad and same with movies too and they are being too expensive. I just pray they do something with this mall cuz It was my FAvorite mall out of all the malls when i was like 10 yrs old i loved it better than all of them ( and i went to ALL as a kid soco, jamestown, crestwood, mid rivers, west county ) and i remember when west county was nothing! crestwood was a close second cuz exhalamra was awesome and huge. I just hope they do something with this mall because its something in my memory that wont go away and probably will be crushed within the yr. And no co isnt as bad as people say it is compared to the city which is worse ( got my car stolen there at friends house ). I live in florissant and im in a decent neighboord with 2 story homes and similar to st charles and west county. I mean yes the area has declined a bit and there is alot of places going down but gang bangs is not true! maybe if you go down halls ferry a bit more but there are parts of north county that are nice. florissant is being rejuvenated with jamestown mall theyre meeting to rebuild it and it opened a restaurant and a few new stores as well as a new restaurant on lindbergh as well as building brand new construction homes in the area as well. So the florissant area is looking up and i hope they fix the northwest plaza and make it good like jamestown anything is possible out there.

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  153. Walking through here is surreal – went a couple of weeks ago on the final days of Sears…Growing up here, and remembering its better days, it almost seemed post apocalyptic walking through here. Still in reasonable shape, but unremodeled and very dated to its 80s remodel with all the shades of purple everywhere. See it while you can – I imagine it won’t be long until the doors are locked. Will be surprised to see it make it to Xmas 2010.

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  154. Hi there all you fountain heads, I remember when there was a field there, I grew up up very close, and still live in the area. I meet my first husband there, took my kids to Santa Claus come in on the helicopter. Bought their baby shoes at Buster Browns. My husband worked at the maint. shop there in the basement, so I brought him lunch everyday. I loved the fountains, and the waterfall at Woolworths, and having lunch looking out ontop of the Sears building, and of course the Onion soup a Famous Barr. I have a lot of memories, and it is so sad to see it die like this. There is a web site on Facebook you can join, that was started by Steve Erdelen, There will be a free concert at Tiemeyer park, with all the fountains heads there. AUG. 28, 2010.
    “2010 FountainHeads Rendezvous (Free Concert)”
    Well the last I heard St. Ann is taking in over and making it into a FLEE MARKET. What kind of people is that going to attract in the area??? I think I need to move, errr

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    Kyle Muldrow Reply:

    @Cheryl,

    That’s usually the last nail in the coffin…I can’t believe what was once the neatest place to shop in St. Louis is being reduced to a flea market…sounds like a desperation attempt by the city to get ANY kind of activity at the mall…this place is done…

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  155. I use to go out there a lot in the mid to late 70′s when I was in high school. Walking from store to store in the cold, the lights, and all of the people really made it feel like Christmas.
    I guess the last time I was there was sometime in October 2001 when we bought my daughter a new coat from the Coat Factory.
    Its a shame that NWP couldn’t stay open. There is a lot of history in that place.

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  156. I’ve heard that the Underground Station store in Northwest Plaza has closed.

    The mall is now completely dead. Kaput. Closed. Demolition should start next year.

    The only question left is the office tower. Is it abandoned? Can it be saved?

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  157. Drove by Northwest Plaza a couple days ago – officially totally kaput; completely locked and dark except the office tower, and a handful of outward facing stores like Catherine’s, 24 Hour Fitness, and Family Dollar,

    There are still tenants in the Office Tower, and it is reasonably occupied, and from what I have seen, plans are to tear down everything excepting the tower.

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    Kyle Muldrow Reply:

    @Mike,

    If that’s the case, this might end up looking like the The Block in Orange, which is near where I live in Orange County, CA. That center used to be called The City Shopping Center (there’s still a street near it called The City Drive) and it also had an office tower. In the early 2000s, The City Shopping Center was totally demolished (except for the office tower, which is still there) and The Block was built. It’s totally open air and seems to be doing well, although it’s not my favorite place to shop. They also put a 30-screen AMC movie theater there.

    Wonder if something like this will happen to NWP…although there surely won’t be a 30-screen theater there…if there’s ever a theater again…

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  158. For those who need more proof the mall is permanently closed, signs have been posted at EVERY entrance asking visitors to enter the external shops from the outside, as the mall has been closed. Still, people keep saying on wikipedia that it’s open- uh, unless you’re part of security or management, you can NOT enter Northwest Plaza, it’s PERMANENTLY LOCKED!!!

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  159. I went there last June and almost all the stores were gone and Sears was CLOSING CLOSING and the parking lot was in bad shape

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  160. Reports are that the closed mall was severely damaged by the tornado, but I can’t confirm that. Can anyone confirm?

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    Kyle Muldrow Reply:

    @Pseudo3D,

    I saw something on Wikipedia that said the mall had been damaged, but we all know Wikipedia is not the most reliable source. I haven’t found anything on the Post-Dispatch’s website that talks about Northwest Plaza in relation to the tornado.

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @Kyle Muldrow, well, unlike that B.S. about the fire that burned the mall to the ground, it’s entirely plausible that the mall was damaged somehow, since the article is about the nearby airport and mentions how the buildings nearby were damaged. Doubt it’s anything more severe than missing patches of roof.

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  161. [...] excellent discussion of Northwest Plaza is offered by Label Scar, a retail history blog. This post has generated (to [...]

  162. Northwest was being auctioned off online July 25-27…starting bid was $1.25M, last known bid was $2.25M. And this was for BOTH the mall AND the office tower.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2011/07/19/starting-bid-for-northwest-plaza-set.html?ana=yfcpc

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  163. The pics from 2002: this is how I would’ve described the mall; a futuristic, space shuttle-like nightclub in Vegas. I liked those pics, especially the American Eagle signage. The pics from 2007: the apocalypse just happened :( so sad to see this go to waste.

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  164. Love this site! I find this stuff fascinating. My wife and I visited NWP the day after we saw a news report that the Macy’s was going to close soon. We got there the next day and it was already closed! Took some pics of this dead behemoth of a mall hoping that like minded folks would enjoy them.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49418561@N03/

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  165. http://www.flickr.com/photos/49418561@N03/

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  166. Is the mall still standing???? Is there anything in it??? I worked at the Sears there for trainning back in 09 I have a few pics I will dig up and put on flickr.

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  167. It appears Northwest Plaza is now officially going to be redeveloped. The Post-Dispatch reports today that a buyer has closed on the property (for $5 million dollars, half the asking price…OUCH!) and will begin tearing down the mall and redeveloping the office tower. The story also says that one tenant, Menard, has signed on to buy some of the acreage and two other unidentified tenants (Ikea perhaps?) are in negotiations. Here’s the link:

    http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/redevelopment-work-at-northwest-plaza-to-move-into-higher-gear/article_027ae3a8-dc0f-11e1-aaad-0019bb30f31a.html

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  168. We can only hope poor Saint Anne’s Northwest Plaza can be redeveloped, by the looks of the photos it was a tragic and slow dead, we can hope she can rise from the ashes!

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  169. Just saw a post for this on Facebook. Beginning tomorrow (Tue, Nov 13, 2012), Northwest Plaza will start being transformed into The Crossings At Northwest. Here’s two links, first to a blog that first announced the redevelopment:
    http://rockroadreporter.blogspot.com/p/one.html

    And here’s one to the site that details the redevelopment:
    http://www.thecrossingsatnorthwest.com/

    We’ll see how this shapes up. What do you guys think?

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  170. I went to this mall back in 2007 with my parents and we were really surprised at how empty it was.While I was there I bought a fossil watch from Hibett sports. I’m very sad to see this mall go. :(

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  171. I have lived in St. Louis area for 58 years. I saw Northwest Plaza when it was still an empty field in the early ’60s. I remember the Famous-Barr “saucer” when it was a bare metal frame. I remember Christmas shopping walking through the snow in the open mall spaces. My wife and I were at the Grand Reopening of the enclosed mall. She almost gave birth to my daughter right there in the crowd (more excitement than I like) It is amazingly sad to see it die. Today ( June 21 ’13) I drove by it. The only changes are growing piles of debris. I do hope the new plans work out.

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  172. Northwest Plaza is now mostly gone; the Sears, former Dillards/Styx, several outbuildings, and the vast majority of the mall are gone now, leaving the old JC Penney and Macy’s, the Office Tower, and the handful of outside shops still at the bottom of the office tower. Looks as though they are right on track and moving along towards the Menards being open sometime in Mid to Late 2014, and the Penneys/Macy’s space converted to office space. Really, really sad to drive by there; they took out the traffic light on St Charles Rock Rd, for it, and have most of the property fenced off.

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  173. Here are two links which are part of the same article that mostly talks about Crestwood Plaza, but Northwest Plaza is also mentioned. A long-time planner for the city of Crestwood places the blame for the demise of Crestwood Plaza on Westfield. After reading both parts of the article, I’m sure you’ll see that Northwest Plaza suffered the same fate for the same reasons:

    http://www.callnewspapers.com/Articles-Impact-News-i-2014-07-09-273644.112112-Panel-given-history-lesson-on-Watson-Road-Corridor.html

    http://www.callnewspapers.com/Articles-Impact-News-i-2014-07-16-273743.112112-Owners-neglect-led-to-decline-of-Crestwood-Plaza.html

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