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Chesterfield's Elected Take Heat From 'The Mall' Over Allowing Outlet Stores

This town not big enough for all of them?

A spokesman for Chesterfield Mall ownership told the Monday that re-zoning for outlet stores in Chesterfield Valley would likely harm sales at the Mall.

Michael Lebovitz, for CBL and , called for a marketing study by the city before it moved ahead to allow outlet stores. He doubted local spending could support outlet stores without drawing off business from Chesterfield Mall.

Specifically, City Council is considering opening up a narrow swath of 48 acres to commercial zoning on the north side of Highway 40/64 at Boones Crossing exit, for outlets.

T-O Ventures wants to develop a one-story strip mall, with brand name outlet stores at the site. It's adjacent to .

Lebovitz, for Chesterfield Mall, said that brands sold at outlets overlapped with those at the Mall. He cited Timberland, Coach, Levi's, Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren, Yankee Candle and many more.

City Mayor Bruce Geiger responded that outlet stores were a niche to be filled in the city, and would bring more business overall to the area. A second outlet center is planned in the Valley on 59 acres near the bridge over the Missouri River into St. Charles County.

Lebovitz reminded city council that Chesterfield Mall had sales of some $200 million a year, and subsequent sales tax that goes into city coffers.

Geiger pledged, prehaps too glibly for Lebovitz, not to do anything that would bring harm to Chesterfield Mall. Lebovitz pointed out that outlet stores would be only two miles from Chesterfield Mall—too close for comfort.

A Clayton attorney, Michael King, said traffic would be a problem in Chesterfield Valley with outlet stores. He said two documents from state highway officials showed that the city would be "abandoning" its master plan for traffic if it proceeded with outlet stores.

Geiger said he wasn't aware of any "abandonment" in what the council was apt to do with outlet centers.

Councilman Barry Flachsbart took up another issue—saying he was wholly opposed to allowing unlimited operating hours for the re-zoning of the 48 acres for outlet stores. He said it didn't make sense to him.

Councilpersons Randy Logan and Connie Fults agreed with Flachsbart on restricting hours, but gave no reasons why. Fults said unlimited hours were "out there." She later clarified in an email to Patch that she wanted restricted hours and indicated the Commons had restricted hours.

Councilman Flachsbart said he did not like the city's commercial zoning standard that allowed for multiple uses, including retail, bowling, dry cleaners, barber, dentist, food, grocery, schools, kennels, theaters, parking, and more.

However, Councilman Bob Nation took no issue with commercial zoning and was open to a vast array of allowed uses of the property.

"Why eliminate any uses? Don't we want to be user-friendly?" Nation said.

Councilman Matt Segal explained that the proposed outlets zoning was in line with other areas in Chesterfield Valley—for example Chesterfield Commons, and keeping the uses flexible would make sense for future owners of the property.

But Flachsbart would have none of it.

"In my mind, it's not an outlet mall then," Flachsbart said. He called for the council to reconsider zoning uses at the next council meeting, however he would be absent.

Mayor Geiger said the council would consider hours and uses at the next council meeting. He directed city staff to study the matters and report back.

After the public meeting, attorney Mike Dostert for T-O Ventures (an outlet developer) said in conversation that at one time there was concern about delivery trucks disturbing residents living on the bluffs above Walmart, Target and others in the Valley, if businesses were 24-hour.

Earlier, Councilman Segal questioned why hours should be limited in commercial zoning, when "there's not one iota of residential property" in the area. "Are we worried about disturbing raccoons?" Segal quipped.

A zoning change takes two separate votes by the city council to be approved. The council voted Monday for the first time. Typically, the second vote would be at the next council meeting.

Suzanne November 08, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Really think we have enough shopping in the valley. Can't we leave just a little patch of "green".

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