The District at Chesterfield: Get Ready to Play. Eat. Rock.
While the pandemic slowed its opening, progress continues on The District at Chesterfield. The new entertainment venue is transforming the former Taubman Outlet Mall into a one-of-a-kind place for all things fun.
More than 75 CREW-St. Louis members tuned in (OK, zoomed in) to hear how the development is shaping up during the March 16 virtual program. Michael Staenberg, president, and Tim Lowe, vice president of leasing and development, of The Staenberg Group, shared their vision for the unique venue. Mike Doster, member attorney with Doster Ullom & Boyle, participated in the discussion moderated by Brian Carp, chief operating officer of The Factory, a centerpiece music venue in The District.
No stranger to the region’s development, Staenberg provided some history, dating back to its ambitious plans for Chesterfield Commons. After the flood of 1993, Staenberg was asked what development could take place. Today, Chesterfield Commons is a thriving retail center, the largest contiguous strip center in the United States.
Zoom ahead to three or four years ago when the Taubmans approached Staenberg about buying its outlet center across Highway 64 from Chesterfield Commons. Intrigued, Staenberg put on his development hat and began to mull a reimagined use for the struggling center. After all, the St. Louis Premium Outlets mall built by Simon just a mile or so away meant only one of the outlet centers would probably survive.
Staenberg decided to take the Taubmans’ offer and visualized a unique entertainment destination on the 49-acre site. Taubman remains a minority stakeholder in The District.
The first phase covers more than 372,000 square feet, with some anchor entertainment or as Staenberg notes, the dumbbells on each end of the development. The 50,000 square-foot Main Event will offer a variety of family-friendly activities – bowling, laser tag, arcades and more – along with a bar and food.
The next component became The Factory. Carp was returning to St. Louis after successfully running music venues. He contacted Staenberg and plans began on the 52,000 square-foot concert venue with a capacity for 3,000 guests. The development team scoured the country to find the right design for the venue. Everything from the sound system to legroom to the type of seats are designed to exceed expectations of customers and the musicians, Staenberg says.
The Factory also is designed for other events. The main floor accommodates 650 people for a sit-down dinner event such as for a corporate gathering, motivational speaker or charity event.
“What we’re creating at The District is unique to St. Louis and beyond,” Staenberg says. “We’re building upon the synergy of Topgolf next door and developing 250,000 to 300,000 square feet of entertainment for companies and coworkers, families and friends. One million people can reach this destination within 24 minutes. Even before COVID, people were gravitating toward having an experience and a place to hang out. That is no longer the shopping mall. We’re excited to be building a social, interactive entertainment venue for all people of all ages to enjoy.”
Barring any unforeseen circumstance, Phase one should be ready for visitors come August.
Phase two is underway with completion anticipated in 18 months, says Lowe. The development will add a large outdoor gathering place for events and to support the planned restaurants that will be courted.
And Phase three will focus on more entertainment such as a comedy club or cigar shop. The final phase will depend on the right users, Lowe notes.
The overall development is a work in progress, Staenberg says. He expects it will take 10 years to bring the concept to full completion. The development does have an advantage since many of the existing buildings can be repurposed quickly and the infrastructure is already in place.
When finished, Staenberg says it will be unlike any entertainment destination in the United States. While other cities offer a multitude of venues, they are often spread out miles apart. The District will push all the entertainment into one location and just minutes from more than one million residents and a destination for visitors who play at soccer, baseball and hockey tournaments at nearby recreational complexes.
Throughout the program, attendees commented with an overriding pandemic-weary theme: “We can’t wait to enjoy the fun!” So let’s Play. Eat. Rock.