NORTHWEST PLAZA
Lindbergh Boulevard / US 67 and St. Charles Rock Road
City of St. Ann, Missouri

One of the largest shopping malls ever built in Greater Saint Louis was developed by Louis Zorensky, Milton Zorensky and Saul Brodsky. NORTHWEST PLAZA was situated on a 122 acre parcel, lying 14 miles northwest of the center city.

When fully completed, the open-air complex encompassed approximately 1,290,900 leasable square feet. It consisted of a main mall level, with a retail and service basement opening to the parking lot on the west and south sides of the structure.

There were originally four anchors. A 3-level (331,700 square foot) Sears opened for business August 19, 1965. Anchors two and three, dedicated in January 1966, consisted of a 2-level (200,000 square foot), St. Louis-based Famous-Barr and 3-level (155,400 square foot), St. Louis-based Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney (a.k.a. Vandervoort's). J.C. Penney's 3-level (162,000 square foot) store opened on August 15, 1966.

Inline stores at the original NORTHWEST PLAZA included Boyd's For Men, Walgreen Drug, Richman Brothers, Holloway House Cafeteria, Chandler's Shoes, Tall Fashions, Joan Bari For Ladies, a 2-level (30,400 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and two freestanding supermarkets; A-Mart A & P and Schnuck's.

In addition, there was the 12 story First Northwest Building, at the southeast corner of the mall. The General Cinema Corporation Northwest Plaza Cinema opened June 25, 1969. It was built, as a freestanding structure, in the western parking lot. The venue was twinned in December 1974, quaded in April 1982, and shuttered in 1989.

Vandervoort's became the first anchor store to be shuttered, in early 1969. The upper levels of the building became a Famous-Barr Home Store. Its lower level was leased as offices for the St. Louis-based Venture discount mart chain.

Retail rival shopping hubs included NORTHLAND CENTER (1955) {6 miles east, in Jennings}, WEST COUNTY CENTER (1969) {9 miles southwest, in Saint Louis County} and RIVER ROADS MALL (1962) {8 miles east, also in Jennings}.

The first expansion of NORTHWEST PLAZA involved the construction of a 3-level (217,900 square foot), St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller, which was built at the north end of the complex. The store opened its doors March 20, 1978. A new northwest block of stores was also built. These added 20,200 square feet to the complex, which now housed approximately 1,529,000 leasable square feet.

The Stix store was rebranded as a Dillard's in the mid-1980s. A comprehensive, renovation of the mall was done between 1986 and 1989 by the New York City-based Paramount Group. Courts and concourses were fully-enclosed and over 200,000 square feet of retail space was added, most of this filling in previously open areas.

Famous-Barr's building was expanded to 238,500 square feet. Moreover, the Vandervoort's / Famous-Barr Home Store was rebuilt into a 3-level, entertainment complex. The first level became a Tilt video arcade. The second (main mall) level, a 12-bay Sensations Food Court, with the third housing the Wehrenburg Northwest Plaza 9, which showed its first features November 17, 1989.

Business at the new NORTHWEST PLAZA kicked off with a gala "Prince's Ball", held November 12, 1989. The complex now encompassed 1,768,500 leasable square feet, with one hundred and twenty store spaces. At the time, it was the largest shopping mall in the region.

A face lift renovation was done in 1994. 3 years later, the Paramount Group initiated a repositioning of the mall into a "value-oriented", discount shopping venue. During -and after- this remarketing endeavor, new Office Max and Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill stores opened. Burlington Coat Factory assumed a vacated Woolworth space.

Australia-based Westfield Holdings (now known as the Westfield Group) acquired the shopping venue in December 1997, renaming it WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN NORTHWEST PLAZA in November 1998. By this time, the center had been in varying degrees of decline for some years.

Westfield began to focus on its five other St. Louis retail properties. Maintenance and upkeep at their NORTHWEST property was deferred and vacancies piled up. J.C. Penney shuttered their store in 2002. The completion of SAINT LOUIS MILLS {3.6 miles northwest, in Hazelwood}, in November 2003, exacerbated the exodus of stores from WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN NORTHWEST PLAZA.

Steve & Barry's University Sportswear was recruited to fill the vacant Penney's space, in 2004. However, the following year saw the closing of the Northwest Plaza 9 multiplex and Tilt Arcade.

Westfield shortened the official mall moniker to WESTFIELD NORTHWEST PLAZA in June 2005 and then sold the past-its-prime property in June 2006; the buyer being Santa Barbara-based Somera Capital Management. They announced a 250 million dollar redevelopment plan, to be anchored by a newly-built Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Rumors also circulated that a Swedish-based Ikea would open a store.

A new shopopolis, known as LINDBERGH TOWN CENTER, was to be anchored by Wal-Mart and Ikea, as well as the existing Sears and Famous-Barr (which had been "Macy-ated" in September 2006). Existing mall space would either be demolished or reconfigured into an open-air format. However, Ikea backed out of the deal. The Great Recession, which began in 2008, caused the complete abandonment of the redevelopment plan.

Steve & Barry's shuttered their NORTHWEST PLAZA location in September 2008. Dillard's, having been demoted to a Clearance Center, went dark in February 2009. Macy's pulled their proverbial plug in March 2010. Sears, the final operational anchor, was shuttered July 14, 2010.

The virtually vacant mall had been foreclosed on in September 2009, with a holding company, known as the St. Ann Shopping Center, Limited Liability Company, taking possession. The City of St. Ann took an option to purchase the mall in January 2010 and devised a plan to redevelop it as LINDBERG LANDING, a mixed-use complex.

Unfortunately, this plan failed as well. What few remaining stores that were in operation along the interior mallway closed on January 1, 2011. In July 2011, the mall was placed on the auction block, with bids starting at 1.3 million dollars. It was hoped that bidding would get as high as 5 million dollars, but this didn't happen. The top bid was 2.9 million dollars...which was rejected.

In July 2012, St. Louis-based Raven Development acquired the mall for 5 million dollars. They announced a redevelopment plan soon after. A retail, restaurant and office venue, known as THE CROSSINGS AT NORTHWEST, would be created.

The bulk of the mall would be demolished, leaving the vacant Famous-Barr / Macy's, J.C. Penney and 12-story office tower standing. These would be joined by newly-built, open-air structures, including a 1-level (160,000 square foot) Menards home improvement center.

A photo-op demolition was held November 13, 2012, with the freestanding Sears Auto Center being razed. Asbestos abatement was performed over the following months, with demolition beginning, in earnest, in April 2013. The Menards at THE CROSSINGS AT NORTHWEST held its grand opening August 18, 2015.

Sources:

"Northwest Plaza" article on Wikipedia
www.labelscar.com / "Prange Way"
www.westfield.com (The Westfield Group)
www.cinematreasures.org
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster
The St. Louis Dispatch
http://www.stannmo.org
http://www.thecrossingsatnorthwest.com