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Two New Outlet Malls In Chesterfield Valley: Prestige Vs. Premium

November 6, 2013 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail, STL Region, Walkability 10 Comments

This year two competing outlet malls opened in the Chesterfield valley, not far from each other. I had a chance recently to visit both by car, a rental. I’d hoped to visit one or both via MetroBus so I could have my wheelchair.  Before you question the idea, the #258 MetroBus stops in the valley every 20-60 minutes weekdays.

The two opened three weeks apart:

  1. Taubman Prestige Outlets on August 2, 2013
  2. St. Louis Premium Outlets on August 22, 2013

There was debate about St. Louis being able to support two outlet malls just 4+ miles apart, in addition to the existing St. Louis Outlet Mall in Hazelwood that opened in November 2003. For now I’ll focus on the two new outlets by Taubman and Simon Properties:

Both developers are publicly traded companies with impressive track records in the retail world. But Simon, the largest U.S. shopping mall owner, has been in the outlet business a lot longer.

Linda Humphers, who tracks the outlet mall industry for the International Council of Shopping Centers as editor of Value Retail News, noted that Simon has more than 60 outlet centers in the U.S. compared to basically two for Taubman. (Taubman and Simon both have many full-priced malls in their portfolios.) (stltoday.com)

Taubman, the underdog, opened first. Like many, I tend to lean in favor of the underdog. But I knew that many shoppers more impressed by Chesterfield’s second outlet mall. With all this background I visited both, in the order they opened, on Monday October 28th. Again, I drove a rental car we had for the weekend because both would require using the shoulder for the mile from the closest bus stop.

Similarities:

  • Highly visible from I-64
  • Site was underwater during the Flood of 1993
  • Primarily internally focused
  • Upscale/desirable retail outlets
  • Multiple entrance points from parking lot
  • One level, open air design
  • Indoor, centrally-located, food court
  • Green design elements like rain gardens to handle water runoff

For the differences many have focused on the number & importance of stores, but I’m not going to debate Ralph Lauren (Taubman) vs Coach (STL Premium). My focus is on the layout, approach, physical design, etc.

Taubman Prestige Outlets

Signage is prominent at the several auto entrances
Signage is prominent at the several auto entrances
Green storm water management is attractive, should be highly functional
Green storm water management is attractive, should be highly functional
The white/light color scheme of the exterior doesn't feel upscale to me
The white/light color scheme of the exterior doesn’t feel upscale to me
A typical entry into the interior walkway
A typical entry into the interior walkway
The entrance points are wide and use nice materials, but they feel generic
The entrance points are wide and use nice materials, but they feel generic
Standing at the center looking at the open west end
Standing at the center looking at the open west end

 

Looking east from the center
Looking east from the center

 

The food court building at the center
The food court building at the center
The directory shows the linear design, parking is focused between the mall and highway outer drive
The directory shows the linear design, parking is focused between the mall and highway outer drive

 

Crosswalks connect disabled parking to the mall entrances, but the angle was confusing for new construction
Crosswalks connect disabled parking to the mall entrances, but the angle was confusing for new construction

St. Louis Premium Outlets

This mall is in the center of a much larger site that'll eventually all be developed.  The entrance signs have room for other projects besides the outlet mall
This mall is in the center of a much larger site that’ll eventually all be developed. The entrance signs have room for other projects besides the outlet mall
Outlet Mall Drive approaching the mall
Outlet Blvd approaching the mall
As you turn off of Outlet Blvd into the mall the signage gets specific
As you turn off of Outlet Blvd into the mall the signage gets specific
An ADA pedestrian access route was planned from the start to connect to future adjacent development
Between the entry drive and parking is a pedestrian access route connecting to future adjacent development
Well marked crosswalks to the disabled parking
Well marked crosswalks to the disabled parking
The medium to dark color scheme looks richer to me
The medium to dark color scheme looks richer to me
Entrances are more interesting, false side windows relieve otherwise blank walls.
Entrances are more interesting, false side windows relieve otherwise blank walls.
A children's playground is next to the food court in the center
A children’s playground is next to the food court in the center
The directory shows this mall is more than a shingle corridor. The various colors represent different districts with local names like "Meramec River District"
The directory shows this mall is more than a shingle corridor. The various colors represent different districts with local names like “Meramec River District”
The corridors are not very interesting
The corridors are not very interesting
I got excited when I saw the bus plaza, but then I realized it's for tourist buses, not public transportation
I got excited when I saw the bus plaza, but then I realized it’s for tourist buses, not public transportation

My Conclusions

Both malls will do fine initially, but the smaller Taubman mall will fade out quicker. It feels smaller, less generous, since it’s shoehorned in between the highway and a levee. It won’t close  for many years, it’ll just be the less desirable outlet mall, though still ahead of Hazelwood’s decade-old St. Louis Outlet Mall.

The St. Louis Premium Outlets area will get built up over the next 5-10 years, hotels, restaurants and other retail will be added. They’ve planned ahead so as it gets built out it’ll be connected by a sidewalk network. Nothing you’d call super walkable, but minimally acceptable. The location is right as you enter from St. Charles County, so it’s convenient to many.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    I’ve been to both and I agree with many of your design observations. It’ll be interesting to see how well their “green” parking lots function, in the long run. Maintenance will be more complex than just sweeping the asphalt and cutting the grass. The low, wet areas will tend to collect a lot of trash and grow weeds. But the real bottom line will be the tenant mix and how well they attract customers – people shop primarily for products, the surrounding built environment is secondary, as long as it is acceptably clean and inoffensive (as both are). But the one statement I’m going to challenge is that either mall is “convenient to many” shoppers. They both may be more convenient to residents of St. Charles County than many other retail options in St. Louis County and City, but they’re really no more, and probably much less, “convenient” than the other options available to St. Louis residents. Most stores have outlets elsewhere in the area, and their prices, here, don’t seem to be much lower than the “sale” prices at their non-outlet locations. New will be the attraction, initially, but what’s actually available, consistently, will determine their long-term success.

     
  2. Mark says:

    Isn’t the term Premium Outlet an Oxymoron? To me Premium implies scarce or higher priced, not overstocked, or worse lower quality. I guess a certain portion of the public is stupid enough to buy into the idea that they are somehow getting a bargain, which may have once been the case when retailers had only a few of these stores, but now they have become their own key marketing component and they are everywhere. I predict that these malls will go the way of the St. Louis Mills and be a wasteland in 10 years.

     
  3. guest says:

    Why am I reading this? I hate shopping. I can’t stand outlet malls. The idea of head-to-head competition among trendy outlet malls is a horrid nightmare. And I loathe the commercial development of the Missouri River flood plain into the Chesterfield Valley. Steve, please get back to posting about urban topics!

     
    • JZ71 says:

      Two points. One, you need to keep up on what the “opposition” is up to. You may “hate shopping, but many people do love to shop (and they will!). Unfortunately, most shopping today is happening / being built in non-urban situations. If you want “urban” to remain relevant, you need to appeal to all demographics – you can’t be the Tea Party. And two, hate it or just tolerate it, much of the city does have a suburban scale and much of the new construction happening in the city and the inner ring suburbs is of this scale. While the location of these two malls is truly anti-urban, many of their design elements could have applicability in the city, things like “green” parking lots and the interface of pedestrians and parking. Not everything new is going to be a 3-6 story mixed-use structure with hidden parking!

       
  4. Julia says:

    People in the city, we need to boycott these malls! Do not let the county build any more! Somehow shopping must be brought to downtown again.

    Years ago, the Christmas decorations downtown at the different shopping centers were outstanding. Simply amazing. All of you on here that are old enough to remember know exactly what I’m talking about. It rivalled any major city in the US. The different Christmas scenes, the trains, and the manger scenes with baby Jesus were just like they have in Europe today. Somehow, someday, our downtown will come alive again like it was. Our downtown must be our priority in this city!

     
    • JZ71 says:

      While I agree with your sentiments, it’s a chicken-or-egg situation. When it comes to shoes and clothing (the major attraction at any mall), most shoppers are looking for certain brands and/or certain stores. Few, if any, of the stores at the new outlet malls (listed below) have a presence downtown, so saying that “we need to boycott these malls!” is hard to do when there aren’t any options downtown!

      Adidas
      Ann Taylor

      Armani Outlet
      BCBG Max Azria
      Brooks Brothers

      Charlotte Russe
      Christopher & Banks
      Columbia Sportswear
      Converse
      DKNY
      Eddie Bauer Outlet
      Elie Tahari
      G.H. Bass & Co.
      Gap

      Haggar Clothing Co.
      HanesBrands
      Hollister Co.

      Hot Topic
      J.Crew
      Jockey
      Jones New York
      Jos. A. Bank
      Kate Spade New York
      Lane Bryant

      Levi’s

      Loft

      Maidenform
      MaxStudio.com
      Michael Kors
      Motherhood Maternity
      Nike

      Oakley Vault
      PacSun
      Reebok
      Rue21
      Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th
      Sarar
      St. John

      Tommy Hilfiger
      Under Armour
      Van Heusen
      Wet Seal
      Wilsons Leather
      Zumiez
      Carter’s
      The Children’s Place

      Disney Store Outlet
      Gymboree Outlet
      OshKosh B’gosh
      Stride Rite Keds Sperry

      Adidas
      Aldo
      Asics
      Clarks Bostonian
      Cole Haan
      Converse
      Easy Spirit
      Famous Footwear

      Finish Line
      G.H. Bass & Co.
      Naturalizer
      Nike Factory Store
      Nine West

      Rack Room Shoes
      Reebok
      Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th
      Skechers
      Sperry Top-Sider
      Stride Rite Keds Sperry
      Ugg Australia
      Coach
      Coach Men’s
      The Luggage Factory
      Samsonite
      Wilsons Leather

      Claire’s

      Coach
      Coach Men’s
      Cole Haan
      Fossil
      Gold Toe
      Icing Outlet
      Kate Spade New York
      Kay Jewelers

      Michael Kors
      Sunglass Hut
      Sunglass Warehouse
      Ultra Diamonds
      Vera Bradley

      Corningware Corelle & More
      Kitchen Collection
      Le Creuset
      Bath & Body Works
      Book Warehouse
      Crabtree & Evelyn
      Direct Tools Factory Outlet
      Fragrance Outlet
      Perfumes 4 U
      Toys”R”Us
      2B bebe

      Abercrombie & Fitch

      Always Spring

      American Eagle Outfitters

      Auntie Anne’s

      Banana Republic

      Bettie Page

      Broadway

      Brooks Brothers

      Brookstone

      Call It Spring

      Cellairis

      Chic

      Christmas in St. Louis

      Collective

      Discount Wireless
      Famous Footwear

      Furla

      Gap

      Go! Calendars

      Go! Games & Toys

      Hickory Farms

      J. Crew

      Jewelry Box

      Johnston & Murphy

      Juicy Couture

      Love Culture

      Lucky Brand

      Mark Anthony Collection

      MindWorks Gallery

      Nadoz Bakery Cafe

      On the Ball Sports

      Pacific Sunwear

      Perfume Plus

      Polo Ralph Lauren

      Restoration Hardware

      Scentsual Perfume

      Solstice Sunglass

      Spas and More!

      Steve Madden

      STL Menswear

      Taviani Pizzeria

      Teavana

      The Bedroom Store

      TokyoSAN

      Treats Unleashed

      Uno de 50

      Vera Asian

       
      • guest says:

        There are plenty of shopping options between St. Louis and 270 so as to not have to drive to the middle of a drained swamp to buy shoes and clothing.

         
        • JZ71 says:

          Agree, but Julia was saying shopping needed to brought back downtown, not just inside 270.

           
          • guest says:

            Julia is a bit naive, but her heart is in the right place!

             
          • Mike says:

            I agree with Julia wholeheartedly! Shopping options do need to be brought downtown and back to the city in general. Hopefully the IKEA store will work out in mid-town. And hopefully we can also bring back the Christmas decorations as they once were. I used to love the train at Macy’s…

            I hope these Chesterfield malls flop and that retailers consider downtown, and the city as a whole, worthy options again.

             

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