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Owners hope to develop the Meadows into thriving ‘town center’

Rendering of proposed improvements for the Meadows in Lake Saint Louis.

Rendering of proposed improvements for the Meadows in Lake Saint Louis.

The owner of the Meadows at Lake Saint Louis wants to make the shopping center more of a “town center” that includes more dining and entertainment offerings and makes it friendlier to foot traffic.

Dan Sax, a spokesperson for owner Cohen Equities, told the city’s Board of Aldermen at their March 2 meeting that they intend to make the shopping center “a thriving part of Lake Saint Louis and St. Charles County.” But Sax offered little information about new tenants or an exact timetable for such improvements.

The 344,201-square-foot, open-air shopping center was purchased in May by Cohen Equities, a New York City-based real estate firm.

Sax said the center, developed in 2008, opened at “perhaps not the best timing” and was envisioned largely as “an all retail project.” He noted that the Meadows also is competing with other retail outlets including two malls in Chesterfield.

“We’ve kind of gone back to the drawing board a little and envisioned some uses that will make it more successful,” Sax said.  The conceptual plans seek to “bring more life to the project, more foot traffic, more activity, make it more entertainment than just shopping,” he said.

Since Cohen Equities bought the property, Sax said they have “ramped up” activities including an outdoor skating rink, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and holiday programming, and a summer concert series. Some activities will continue – the ice skating rink would be back next fall and winter, Sax said.

“The current concept is for a thriving town center with some new tenants and uses such as a movie theatre, perhaps a residential component, a hotel component, and maybe a little office (space),” Sax said.

He said ideas are still being tested out, but that a goal for the center is to turn it into a “community gathering place” that draws families as well as shoppers – a place where people could spend an entire day. Signage, he said, also may change along I-64.

But despite hints as to the Meadows’ future, Sax did not offer an exact timetable on any new tenants or long-range plans for the shopping center.

“It really depends on how pieces fall into place,” he said.

Seeking new clients is a complicated process and requires time, he added.

“We think part of the vision of this project is that it’s not like every other shopping center where you can find an Old Navy or any other tenant there,” Sax said.
The board asked few questions.

“I think you guys have done a good job in bringing the skating rink and really bringing people out here,” Alderwoman Karen Vennard (Ward 2) said.

She said she thought some shoppers are bypassing the Chesterfield malls. But, along with other city officials, she is concerned about the shopping center because it is a major source of sales tax revenue for the city.

City Administrator Paul Markworth said the Meadows contributes to a total of about $4.5 million in sales tax the city receives annually from all sources. Sales tax revenue is also up by $60,000 so far this year.

In a press release in November, Cohen officials noted that “nearly 93,000 residents live within 5 miles of the center and many more frequently travel along the I-64/US-40 traffic corridors, making it the perfect location for a retail and entertainment destination.”

The company has hired Kiku Obata & Company, a St. Louis-based research and design firm, to help in developing a master plan for improving the property.

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