Demolition of north county's Jamestown Mall, closed for 9 years, finally begins
The Jamestown Mall, a symbol of community in north St. Louis County long plagued by vacancy issues, finally start to be demolished on Tuesday.
“It is as difficult to sometimes demolish something as it is to build something,” said Kevin O’Malley, the chairman of the St. Louis Port Authority, which bought the 142-acre property in 2017.
Expected to be complete by next summer, the demolition of the former mall’s entryway and an adjacent tower by two backhoes was met with cheers from north county residents.
"I will miss the mall. I enjoyed it,” said Gwen Reed, a longtime teacher in the Hazelwood School District. “It brought tears to my eyes to see it come down."
Tuesday’s event happened more than nine years after the mall in unincorporated St. Louis County closed its doors for good — with years of struggles prior. Since, many local elected officials and community advocates have tried to demolish the more than 1 million-square-foot facility that sat without use and attracted crime.
“It's been a real eyesore for the folks that live close by and have to look at it every day,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
Last year, the county approved $6 million for the demolition from its share of American Rescue Plan funds. The State of Missouri also chipped in $6 million for the project from its ARPA share, according to local officials.
Between now and next summer, when the last rubble is cleared, the St. Louis Port Authority will start the process of determining how to redevelop the massive property by meeting with potential developers and community leaders.
Although there are few specifics, many of the local leaders and community members said they want something that will serve the community through such uses as recreation or services. Before the space is redeveloped, it will be made into a green space, according to the port authority.
The Jamestown Mall, despite its problems, is still seen as a staple of the region by many in the surrounding communities.
“It was just a safe place to be with your friends,” said Stacy Reed Lyles, the daughter of Gwen Reed, who also works in the Hazelwood school district.
“It is time for change,” said Ruth Lee, a member of the St. Louis Port Authority. “This change symbolizes the promise of economic development and growth and renewal for our community.”
Editor Lara Hamdan contributed to this report.