By Steph Kukuljan  – Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal

Jul 11, 2018, 6:41am

The development group pushing to transform the St. Louis Outlet Mall into a 138-acre youth sports complex says it's in the "final stages" of planning.

Big Sports Properties said a "significant portion" of PowerPlex will open by spring 2019 if all financing and construction details are worked out by October. A formal announcement is to be made in the coming weeks, the group said.

“Nothing of worth ever happens quickly,” Big Sports Properties Managing Partner Dan Buck said in a statement. “This is going to be an enormous youth sports complex, attracting over 2.4 million visitors annually to the St. Louis area. It comes with a lot of complex construction and financing challenges. Everyone wants to make sure we are doing thorough due diligence and getting it right."

The project is estimated to cost $92 million, with about $6 million coming from the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

Big Sports Properties is working with the cities of Hazelwood and Bridgeton to push forward the project, which has been impeded by the roughly $36 million debt from the 370/Missouri Bottom Road/Taussig Road Transportation Development District (TDD) that was established in 2000. The TDD was to support transportation projects through a retail sales tax that was to be generated from the St. Louis Outlet Mall, then known as The Mills Mall at 5555 St. Louis Mills Blvd. But the TDD has failed to make the annual $2.8 million payments due to declining sales at the 1.2 million-square-foot mall, which is nearly half-vacant.

 In March, the TDD and the 370/Missouri Bottom Road/Taussig Road Community Improvement District sued the owner of the mall, an entity tied to New York-based Namdar Realty Group, for failing to pay $3,770,711.33 and $24,518.33 in assessment payments, respectively. Namdar Realty Group attorney Drey Alan Cooley of Capes, Sokol, Goodman & Sarachan PC filed a motion to dismiss the suit in June.

(Namdar won the mall in an auction for $4.4 million in 2016. The company did not respond to requests for comment.)

“With a project of this size, scope and importance to our community, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be addressed. It takes some time to work through all the necessary pieces,” Hazelwood City Administrator Matt Zimmerman said in a statement. “We are working with the TDD bondholders on a refinancing plan and we’re confident the PowerPlex can resurrect the venue and create a new tourism business boom for our entire region.

"It’s going to be a great addition to Hazelwood and a major economic boost for the entire region.”

Big Sports Properties, which also counts Pat Doherty and Dan Larson as investors, envisions 15 turfed multi-sport fields (three of which are to be under a climate-controlled sports dome), 23 hardcourts, nine beach volleyball courts, 10 pickleball courts and the region’s largest dance and cheerleading competition zone. The plan calls for "significant renovations to the adjacent Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Club fields. Both Hazelwood and Bridgeton city councils have to approve various portions of the plan, including those improvements to the Bridgeton fields.

Big Sports Properties also wants the campus to include 13 new restaurants and up to seven hotel sites. Cabela'sIce Zone and Regal Theaters, whose lease was set to expire at the end of this year, are expected to stay and anchor the development, Big Sports Properties said.

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