SOUTH COUNTY CENTER
Lindbergh Boulevard / US 50, 61 & 67 and Lemay Ferry Road / US 61 & 67
Saint Louis County (Mehlville), Missouri

Greater St. Louis' second regional shopping mall was built by May Centers, the city's hometown retail development company. The 10 million dollar SOUTH COUNTY CENTER was designed by Raymond Loewy & Associates and Victor Gruen Associates.

Fully-enclosed and air-conditioned, the complex was constructed on a 69 acre site. This was located 11 miles southwest of the St. Louis Central Business District, in an unincorporated section of St. Louis County known as Mehlville.

SOUTH COUNTY CENTER was originally anchored by a 3-level (208,000 square foot), St. Louis-based Famous-Barr, which held its grand opening August 2, 1963. An official mall-wide dedication began on October 17, 1963.

Charter tenants included Zale's Jewelers, Ludwig Music House, Pam's Children's Shoes, Shirley's Maternity Fashions, Bond Clothes, Benson's Village Shop, Thom McAn Shoes, Werner Hilton Clothing, Rainbow Drapery Shop, Edith's Tots to Teens Shop, Tronic Hi-Fi, Pope's Cafeteria and Flagg Brothers Shoes. A National Food Stores supermarket occupied a portion of the mall's basement.

Promoted for its climate-controlled "perpetual springtime", the Upper Level mallway at SOUTH COUNTY CENTER included three Rain Curtain Fountains. These were similar to other water-less "Wonderfall" installations used in many 1960s-vintage enclosed shopping centers. The concourse was lighted by a series of antique copper and brass gas streetlamps, which had been used to illuminate London's Piccadilly Circus.

A 2-level (178,000 square foot) J.C. Penney was added to the existing mall and opened for business September 14, 1966. The next expansion of SOUTH COUNTY CENTER was completed in 1979. St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller built a 2-level (133,100 square foot) branch store; this part of a wing of Upper and Lower Level stores.

This new South Wing was built in a tri-level configuration, with the mall's original Upper Level becoming a Middle Level. With this addition, the shopping center encompassed 762,000 leasable square feet and housed ninety-nine stores and services. The Stix store became the first SOUTH COUNTY anchor to receive a new nameplate. It was rebannered by Dillard's in 1985.

A mall expansion, proposed in July 1990, would have added a new Dillard's and enlarged the mall to over 1 million leasable square feet. However, May Centers balked at a new 225,000 square foot Dillard's that would have been 17,000 square feet larger than their Famous-Barr store. As a result, this expansion was never carried out. 

Australia's Westfield acquired SOUTH COUNTY CENTER in 1994. They renamed the venue WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN SOUTH COUNTY in late 1998, shortening this to WESTFIELD SOUTH COUNTY in mid-2005.

Meanwhile, a 200 million dollar makeover of the "functionally obsolete" mall had been proposed in October 1996. This project, which was to take advantage of 40 million dollars in tax increment financing, was halted by public opposition.

A less ambitious (and expensive) redevelopment plan was devised, with its construction beginning in July 2000. The 54 million dollar project added a 2-level (117,500 square foot) Southwest Wing; this anchored by a 3-level (158,800 square foot) Sears. A 12-bay Food Court was also installed in existing space adjacent to J.C. Penney.

Inline stores in the Southwest Wing included Petite Sophistocate, August Max Woman, Pacific Sunwear and Rave Girl. Grand openings started in October 2001. WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN SOUTH COUNTY now spanned 1,038,300 leasable square feet and housed one hundred and twenty stores and services.

The renovation-expansion continued into 2004 and 2005, as the north-facing front of the complex was expanded and reworked into an exterior-entranced Streetscape. A (17,200 square foot) Borders Books opened in April 2004, followed by Lacefield Music, Noodles & Company and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

The mall changed hands in August 2007. It became a property of a joint venture between Westfield and Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties, with CBL controlling the "investment vehicle". With this transaction, the official name of the shopping center reverted back to its original moniker, SOUTH COUNTY CENTER.

Sources:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
www.westfield.com
www.cblproperties.com (CBL & Associates Properties)
www.shopsouthcounty.com
www.urbanstl.com