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Northwest Plaza up for sale again

A vacant Northwest Plaza is on the auction block, for a starting bid of $1.25 million.
(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)
A vacant Northwest Plaza is on the auction block, for a starting bid of $1.25 million.

It was once the region's largest shopping mall. Some even billed it as the largest mall in the world.

Now, the vacant Northwest Plaza in St. Ann is up for sale by a group of lenders who need to get the 122-acre, 1.8 million square foot site off their books by 2012.

"They can't do anything except maintain the property in its current state," said St. Ann city administrator Matt Conley of the lenders, who are led by Wells Fargo-Wachovia. "They can't sell off a piece of the property. If Wal-Mart tomorrow decided that they did not want to go down in Bridgetonand called up the lenders and said, 'we just want to buy a little piece of the property to build our store', it's our understanding that the current lenders would have to say no to that."

The opening bid for the property at the online auction site is $1.25 million - less than five percent of what the owners paid to purchase the building from foreclosure in 2009.

But Conley says they have to consider that any redeveloper probably won't reuse any of the buildings at the site.

"It will probably be $12 million to tear down what's there, to scrape the site clean, and to put in storm water detention,"  Conley said. "Given the glut of commercial real estate that's out there right now, and the next wave that's coming, it'll be interesting to see what it ends up selling for."

The auction closes Wednesday.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.