CRESTWOOD PLAZA
Watson Road / US 66 and Sappington Road
City of Crestwood, Missouri

Among the earliest regional-class shopping centers in Greater St. Louis, CRESTWOOD PLAZA was built on 48 acres, located 12 miles southwest of the center city, in the bedroom community of Crestwood.

Open-air in configuration, CRESTWOOD PLAZA was developed by Milton and Lewis Zorensky under the auspices of Hycel Properties. The strip center was designed by Richard Hafner and the Millstone Construction Company.

The complex originally encompassed approximately 550,000 leasable square feet on a single retail level. There was also a service basement, with lower level Arcade of stores. CRESTWOOD PLAZA was anchored by a 2-level (156,000 square foot) Sears. This store was dedicated, along with National Shirt Shops, Baker's Shoes, The Children's Shop and a (23,000 square foot) Kroger supermarket, on March 21, 1957.

Walgreen Drug, Lerner Shops, Thom McAn Shoes and a 2-level (36,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth opened on May 19, 1957. A third group of tenants began business in August 1957. The center's second anchor, a 3-level (156,600 square foot), St. Louis-based Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney (a.k.a. Vandervoort's) welcomed its first shoppers on August 14, 1958.

There was no on-site cinema. However, the 66 Park-In Theater had opened in 1948. It was located directly across from the shopping center and was in business until 1994. A sit-down venue, the Crestwood Theatre, operated between 1964 and 1986. It was located one half mile west of CRESTWOOD PLAZA, on Watson Road.

Commercial competitors of CRESTWOOD PLAZA included WESTROADS CENTER (1955) {5.2 miles northeast, in St. Louis County}, SOUTH COUNTY CENTER (1963) {4.3 miles southeast, in St. Louis County} and WEST COUNTY CENTER (1969) {4.5 miles northwest, also in St. Louis County}.

A fully-enclosed wing was added to the east end CRESTWOOD PLAZA in the mid-1960s. It was built over a 2-level parking garage and included a 3-level (200,000 square foot), St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller. This store, the third branch in the chain, opened its doors January 23, 1967. Sears expanded its store with a third floor and enlarged Auto Center around this time. The building now encompassed 221,400 square feet.

Anchor rebrandings commenced on September 15, 1969, when St. Louis-based Famous-Barr rebranded the Vandervoort's store. The Stix nameplate remained in place until the spring of 1985, when stores were rebranded by Dillard's.

Meanwhile, a second expansion of CRESTWOOD PLAZA had got underway in October 1983. The original strip center was rebuilt as an enclosed mall, with store blocks added to its south side. The 10-bay Cornucopia Food Court & Market was installed in the basement. An official dedication was held October 3, 1984. The American Multi-Cinema Crestwood Plaza 5 megaplex (adjacent to Cornucopia) showed its first features on March 21, 1986.

During a renovation completed in May 1992, a second cinema was built onto the northeast corner of the mall's main level, in back of Dillard's. These two cinemas operated together for approximately 1 year. Then, the basement venue was shuttered and made into a video arcade. The cinema behind Dillard's was expanded into a 10-screen venue, which was known as the AMC Crestwood Plaza 10.

CRESTWOOD PLAZA now spanned 1,017,000 leasable square feet and housed over one hundred and forty stores and services under its roof. Australia-based Westfield acquired the mall in January 1998. In November of the same year, they renamed it WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN CRESTWOOD. This was shortened to WESTFIELD CRESTWOOD in June 2005.

By the early 21st century, the mall was in a downward spiral. ST. LOUIS GALLERIA (1986) {5.8 miles northeast, in St. Louis County} had proven to be too close for comfort. GRAVOIS BLUFFS (2000) {4.7 miles southwest, in Fenton} also contributed to the decline of the CRESTWOOD complex.

Famous-Barr considered closing their CRESTWOOD location in September 2005. However, the store remained open up to -and after- its "Macy-ation", which transpired in September 2006. Dillard's did pull the plug on their store in October 2007, leaving approximately sixty retailers in business.

The struggling shopping center was sold to a joint venture of Chicago-based Centrum Properties and New York City-based Angelo, Gordon & Company in March 2008. The official name of the retail hub was changed to CRESTWOOD COURT.

The new owners instituted the Art Space project, which was a novel method of filling vacancies. Sixty spaces were leased, for a mere 50 to 100 dollars per month, to art gallery, dance studio and theater tenants.

Meanwhile, an ambitious redevelopment was announced, with most of the existing structure to be razed and replaced ny an open-air, lifestyle venue. Progress was delayed by the shuttering of the mall's Macy's, which took place April 1, 2009. By late 2011, the long-delayed redevelopment was gaining momentum once again.

The mall was shuttered March 1, 2012, with Sears (the final operational anchor) going dark in April. The CRESTWOOD COURT renovation project fell through when the owner defaulted on their loan. Another stumbling block presented itself when Crestwood city fathers rejected a 34 million dollar tax abatement-based overhaul.

An "abandoned property" was to be sold in an online auction, which was to commence May 15, 2013. This event was delayed until April 2014. Chicago's Urban Street Group, Limited Liability Company purchased the mall and indicated that the site would be redeveloped in a residential and retail capacity.

Demolition commenced in May 2016, with the entirety of the shopping hub being razed. A mixed-use complex, tentatively known as CRESTWOOD COURT, was supposed to be built. The 99 million dollar project, which was to include an upscale bowling alley, megaplex cinema and several high-end restaurants, was scheduled for a fall 2018 grand opening.

Unfortunately, construction never got underway. In February 2018, a city official was quoted, saying that the long-awaited redevelopment was in a "holding pattern".

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
http://www.westfield.com
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
http://www.66postcards.com / Missouri Postcards & Photos
http://westfieldamerica.com (website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
http://crestwoodcourt.com (website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
http://www.joneslanglasalle.com
http://www.city-data.com
www.cinematreasures.org
www.bizjournals.com