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

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

 

Poll: Should schools be forced to take students from unaccredited districts?

The poll this week is an exact duplicate of a poll run by the St. Louis Business Journal in June:

Should schools be forced to take students from unaccredited districts?

  • Yes, education is that important
  • No, it isn’t fair to taxpayers and students

I couldn’t come up with any better phrasing, so it’ll have to do.

STLSPJ
Left to right: Sharon Reed (KMOV), Eric Knost, Mehlville superintendent, Ty McNichols, Normandy superintendent, and moderator from St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Unaccredited schools are now paying overcrowded schools to accept transfer students. The transfer process was chaotic. Is this really the best we can do as a region?

The poll is in the right sidebar for a week.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll Results on Vehicles Per Licensed Driver

There are many ways to measure and compare regions/states on how auto-centric they are. For the poll last week I selected number of vehicles per licensed driver. The results of the poll are near the end but first I want to share other data.

Ford Focus at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show
Ford Focus at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show

Examples of vehicle miles traveled per capita in 2005:

  • 1) New York City metro: 5,889.9
  • 11) Chicago metro: 7,540.5
  • 22) Seattle metro: 8,552.6
  • 37) Wichita: 9,237.2
  • 46) Minneapolis metro: 9,585.0
  • 55) Austin metro: 10,220.3
  • 64) Kansas City metro: 10,726.2
  • 77) St. Louis metro: 11,511.4 
  • 88) Nashville metro: 12,275.4
  • 92) Oklahoma City metro: 12,325.0

I see this as good evidence our region is too auto dependent, 76 metro areas had less vehicles miles per person than we did in 2005! But maybe we’ve peaked:

When adjusted for population growth, the number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and dropped steadily thereafter, according to an analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, an investment research company. As of April 2013, the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak and equal to where the country was in January 1995. Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. The next few years will be telling. (New York Times)

Even if we’ve declined since 2005 like everyone else, we’re still driving considerably more miles per capita than 76 other regions.

Here are the results from last week’s poll:

Q: How many vehicles per licensed driver in your household?

  1. One+, but less than two 33 [45.21%]
  2. Less than one, more than zero 21 [28.77%]
  3. Two+, but less than three 9 [12.33%]
  4. Zero 6 [8.22%]
  5. Three+ 4 [5.48%]

I’ll admit I broke an important rule when it comes to polls — keeping the answers uniform. It appears the readers who responded don’t have an excess of vehicles, with over 8% saying their household has zero cars per licensed driver.

— Steve Patterson

 

BRT: Readers Picked I-64 BRT Route Between Downtown and Chesterfield

In the poll last week, readers preferred the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route going out I-64 to Chesterfield. There was no clear preference among the other three options for a second choice to submit to federal authorities for a funding request. As I mentioned in my original post, here are the four routes being studied:

From MovingTransitForward.org:

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.
Alternatives analysis involves evaluating the performance of each alternative along parameters including ridership, expanded access to key destinations, travel time savings, and land use benefits. These technical outcomes will be combined with public input to identify the two potential projects most likely to meet project goals, benefit the region, and successfully compete for federal funding.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

Here are the results from last week’s poll:

Q: Which two of the four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes would you like to see planners seek federal funding (pick 2)

  1. I-64 Highway BRT 27 [31.03%]
  2. None 17 [19.54%]
  3. West Florissant-Natural Bridge BRT 16 [18.39%]
  4. Page Avenue BRT 16 [18.39%]
  5. Halls-Ferry Riverview BRT 8 [9.2%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 3 [3.45%]

I like the idea of a Bus Rapid Transit route to Chesterfield, but I wonder if terminating the route at Chesterfield Mall is best. At this moment there’s interest in the two new outlet malls in the Chesterfield valley, but it’s unclear to me if the valley or mall is a better terminus point. I’d like to know the logic behind this decision, likely because it would serve more people.

The Halls-Ferry Riverview route received half as many votes as the West Florissant-Natural Bridge & Page Ave routes. I like both of these routes, they both side through parts of St. Louis that could benefit from improved transit.

My guess is the I-64 & West Florissant-Natural Bridge & Page routes will be the two selected for submission for federal funding. Two routes would have a stop one block away, another 5 blocks away, and Halls-Ferry route 11 blocks east. I’m in a good place, but I want to make sure any investment in new infrastructure serves an accepting public. I know city residents will go to Chesterfield for work, but will Chesterfield residents take a bus, albeit a nice bus, into the city rather than drive? I certainly hope so!

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: City & County Should Reconcile

September 18, 2013 Politics/Policy, STL Region 99 Comments

More than ninety percent of readers that voted in the poll last week favor some form of reconciliation between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.  Voting was nearly double the usual.

Q: Should St. Louis City & St. Louis County Reconcile? If So, How?

  1. St. Louis City should rejoin St. Louis County as the 91st municipally 65 [36.31%]
  2. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities, schools districts, fire districts, etc) should become one government body 52 [29.05%]
  3. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities) should become one government body 45 [25.14%]
  4. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain separate, but partner more 12 [6.7%]
  5. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain completely separate (no change) 5 [2.79%]
  6. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

More than 54% favor some form of consolidated government, not just becoming the 91st municipality. If St. Louis became the 91st municipality it would be the largest in terms of population and 2nd largest in land area, Wildwood is slightly larger in area.

For years I’ve favored a super consolidation  — all municipalities, school districts, fire districts, etc being made into one. But I recognize this wouldn’t be a magic bullet to solve issues of poverty, unemployment, stagnant/declining population, in the city & county. Some regional problems would be solved, but others would be created in the process — unintended consequences tend to pop up.

What needs to take place isn’t a discussion of solutions, but a discussion of problems facing the region. From there we can work toward a collective solution(s). Our history has been a group or individual has pushed a change in governance out of selfish interests. There’s been some mild effort to give the appearance of a grassroots movement rather than what it is.

I want change, I think the region needs change.  But we must learn from the consequences of other city-county consolidations.We shouldn’t do this so one person can get his wish to end income taxes and fund government largely through sales taxes. As a low-income person I know the burden sales taxes place on the poor. I’m not willing to suffer so millionaires can reduce their obligation to society.

Here are some groups currently working on consolidation/merger:

Right now I’m still research each to see if they’re legit, or just a front. Part of that includes reading from a variety of sources, for example:

If the city’s current system of having “county” offices that operate independently of the city is an absurd waste of resources and duplication of services, then what is to be said of a county that has 43 fire districts and more than 60 police departments? Compared outright to St. Louis County, St. Louis city is a model of economy and streamlined public services. It may be ridiculous that the city has a comptroller, treasurer, collector of revenue and license collector, but for many of its square miles the county is nothing – governmentally speaking – more than a speed trap that feeds money into one strip mall city hall or another. (St. Louis American)

I believe we can have a better government structure that makes us competitive with other regions, bettering the lives of everyone, not just a few.  It’ll take open dialog to get there.

— Steve Patterson

 

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