Major Mall Goes|Belly-Up Near St. Louis

     CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) — One of the St. Louis area’s biggest shopping malls has defaulted on a $140 million mortgage, U.S. Bank says in a request for appointment of a receiver.
     U.S. Bank sued Chesterfield Mall in St. Louis County Court on Thursday. It claims the mall defaulted on the loan on June 17.
     Chesterfield Mall, in Chesterfield, an affluent suburb in west St. Louis County, has 150 tenants and three anchor tenants: Dillard’s, Macy’s and Sears. In 2006, former owner Westfield spent $71 million in refurbishments and added a 14-screen AMC Theater and a Cheesecake Factory.
     The mall’s location at Highway 40 and Clarkson Road has made it an attractive locale for businesses since the mall opened in 1976, but newer retail developments nearby have severely cut into Chesterfield Mall’s bottom line.
     Chesterfield Mall has had to compete with Chesterfield Commons, whose more than 200 million square feet could make it world’s largest strip mall, according to its website.
     THF Realty, owned by Stan Kroenke, built Chesterfield Commons. Kroenke this year became a local villain when he moved the St. Louis Rams football team to Los Angeles, despite St. Louis’ offer of $450 million in public money to build a new riverfront football stadium — and blasted St. Louis’ economic outlook on the way out the door.
     A month later, Kroenke’s business associate Alan Bornstein asked for millions in tax increment financing for a large-scale retail development in Maryland Heights, another affluent suburb in west St. Louis County.
     That proposal is still being considered by Maryland Heights officials, despite public outrage about a Kroenke associate asking for public money after Kroenke and the NFL moved the Rams.
     While Chesterfield Mall weathered that storm, the development of two outlet malls along Highway 40 in 2013 sent its revenues plummeting.
     Questions about the mall’s future were raised earlier this year after CBL & Associates Properties, Chesterfield Mall’s owner, downgraded the property into “non-core” status.
     “The mall had experienced declining cash flows as competition from several new outlet shopping centers in the area impacted its sales,” CBL said in a Feb. 29 10-K filing with the SEC.
     CBL owns dozens of malls across the country, including four in the St. Louis area. In April 2014, CBL announced it would sell 21 of its lowest-performing shopping centers within 36 months and reinvest the money into upgrades in higher-performing malls.
     CBL recorded a loss on impairment in 2015 totaling $100 million related to Chesterfield Mall, the company disclosed in February.

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