The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

To turn a failing Hazelwood mall into a sports complex, St. Louis County wants $6 million from CVC !

April 18, 2018

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is requesting the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission contribute $6 million to help pay for the PowerPlex project, a regional youth sports complex that would re-imagine the failing St. Louis Outlet Mall in Hazelwood. 

According to a letter Stenger posted to his Facebook page on Monday, the county is asking the CVC to appropriate the funds from its Convention and Recreation Trust Fund. 

Stenger, officials with the CVC and some County Council members met Monday afternoon to discuss the possibility of the CVC chipping in on the $92 million project.  

“I’m supportive of the PowerPlex project and am working right now on finding the resources and funding from the CVC for that project,” Stenger told the Post-Dispatch. “The CVC indicated they are willing to discuss it and consider it.”

The massive proposal, including a 750-foot long dome for indoor play, would put baseball fields and basketball and volleyball courts alongside entertainment, restaurants and retail on the site of the nearly vacant St. Louis Outlet Mall, originally known as the St. Louis Mills when it opened only 15 years ago. Some current tenants could remain at the property.

Big Sports Properties, led by former newscaster and former St. Patrick Center CEO Dan Buck, is the developer behind the ambitious plan. A previous plan to put the complex in Chesterfield fell apart last summer after the city balked at a request to extend an agreement to buy land and lease it to developers. 

St. Louis County Council Chairman Sam Page, in a letter to CVC Chairman Andrew Leonard, said the money would come from the county’s 3.5 percent hotel tax. 

“When coordinated with other similar efforts in the St. Louis region, this type of attraction can bring needed tourism activity to our region and help brand us as a family travel destination,” Page said in the letter. 

 

Officials with the CVC were not immediately available for comment.

To move forward with the project, Buck’s group needs to overcome roughly $36 million debt held by a transportation development district established on the mall site. The special sales tax district has seen revenue plummet as stores in the mall closed, putting the property at risk of foreclosure, Buck said.

Hazelwood is offering to buy the outstanding TDD bonds to clear the way for Buck’s group to buy the mall property. 

Some $6 million of a county contribution would go to the Hazelwood site to free up money for debt service. The city of Bridgeton is also partnering on the project, and $2 million would go toward turning the fields at the Bridgeton Athletic Complex just across Highway 370 from dirt to turf for tournament play.

County Council members have hinted at the possibility of the CVC helping out financially. And the CVC pledged two years ago financial support for a youth soccer tournament complex in Creve Coeur Lake Park.

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