River Roads Mall

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River Roads Mall
River Roads Mall logo
River Roads Mall, corner of Halls Ferry Road and Jennings Station Road, Jennings, Missouri.jpg
River Roads Mall, corner of Halls Ferry Road and Jennings Station Road, Jennings, Missouri, October 1962
LocationJennings, Missouri, United States
Coordinates38°43′42″N 90°14′44″W / 38.72844°N 90.24557°W / 38.72844; -90.24557Coordinates: 38°43′42″N 90°14′44″W / 38.72844°N 90.24557°W / 38.72844; -90.24557
Opening date1962
Closing date1995
(demolished August 2006–September 2007)
DeveloperStix, Baer & Fuller
No. of anchor tenants3
Total retail floor area835,000 square feet (77,574.0 m2)
No. of floors2

River Roads Mall, also known as River Roads Shopping Center, was an enclosed shopping mall located in the city of Jennings, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Opened in 1962 as one of the nation's first shopping malls,[1] it featured J. C. Penney, F. W. Woolworth Company, Kroger, and Stix, Baer & Fuller as its anchor stores. The mall was expanded in 1972 with a new location of J. C. Penney, but began losing major stores in the early 1980s. J. C. Penney closed in 1983, but was soon reopened as an outlet store, while Stix, Baer & Fuller was sold to Dillard's in 1984 and closed only two years later. Tenancy continued to decline throughout the 1990s, culminating in the closure of the J. C. Penney outlet and mall proper in 1995, although the abandoned structure was not demolished until 2006.

History[edit]

Stix, Baer, and Fuller at the River Roads Mall, August 1961

Opened in 1962, the mall originally featured J. C. Penney and St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller as its main anchor stores, as well as a Kroger supermarket and a Woolworth dime store. Other major tenants included Walgreens, Lane Bryant, Thom McAn, Bakers Shoes, Bond Clothing Stores, and a branch of local jewelry store Hess and Culbertson.[2]

In 1972, J. C. Penney replaced its location at the mall with a newer store built behind the existing one, which was converted to a new row of mall shops.[3] This new store was their largest location in Missouri at the time of its construction.[4] Once this expansion was completed, the mall was increased from 620,000 square feet (58,000 m2) to 835,000 square feet (77,600 m2) of mall space and a total of 60 stores. Among the new stores were several local boutiques, a fabric store, Foxmoor Casuals, and Waldenbooks. The mall's parking lot was also expanded and re-landscaped, while many mall tenants such as Stix, Baer & Fuller, Woolworth, Kroger, and Lane Bryant underwent storewide renovations as well.[4]

The mall underwent a series of store closings in the 1980s, including most of the anchor tenants. J. C. Penney closed in mid-1983 due to declining sales. This was one of two large retail closings in Jennings that year, the other being a Kmart across the street from the mall. At the time of the closing announcement, the mall's then-owners had proposed reducing the size of the store in order to sustain profitability, but the company had decided to follow through with closing the location due to the presence of other J. C. Penney stores in nearby areas.[5] Despite this decision, J. C. Penney reopened a part of the store in 1984 as an outlet store, featuring overstocked merchandise from other locations.[6]

Dillard's bought the Stix, Baer & Fuller chain in 1984, converting all Stix, Baer & Fuller stores to the Dillard's name. Originally, the mall's Stix, Baer & Fuller store was not considered for conversion to Dillard's due to declining sales, but then-company chairman William Dillard decided to allow the store to operate under the Dillard's name until its original lease expired, to determine if the name change would increase profitability. While the store's profits did increase as Dillard's, the increases were not considered sufficient by the chain, so the store was closed in late 1986. Also by 1986, the former Kroger in the mall, vacated in 1983, had been replaced by another supermarket called Food for Less.[7] By 1992, Woolworth had closed as well, leaving the J. C. Penney outlet as the sole anchor store. Then-owners Benderson Corp. had proposed converting River Roads to an outlet mall, but these plans were canceled due to concerns over the nation's economy and a surplus of retail space in the St. Louis market at the time. Despite this, Benderson announced in 1992 that other retailers had taken interest in the locations vacated by Woolworth and Dillard's.[8] J. C. Penney closed the outlet store in 1994.[9] Following this closure, the interior mall was abandoned in 1995, except for Food for Less and some tenants that had exterior entrances. The mall building fell into a state of disrepair, including overgrown greenery and built-up trash, so a local group of churches known as Churches United for Community Action worked with the city of Jennings to clean up the property.[10]

Benderson had sold the mall property in 1997.[11] River Roads served as a MetroBus transfer point until 2006. Demolition of the vacant structure began in 2006.[1] When the demolition of the mall was completed in September 2007 the only buildings that remained were the Food For Less grocery store which had once been a mall anchor and, at the time, was still in business, and the Firestone Auto and Tire (originally Penny's Auto Service) which is an outparcel near the intersection of Halls Ferry Road and Jennings Station Road. Food For Less was also demolished in 2011 leaving Firestone Auto and Tire as the last remnant of River Roads Mall.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "$4.1 Million in Tax Credits to Rehabilitate River Roads". STL News. 2005-12-25. Archived from the original on 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  2. ^ "Additional stores open tomorrow in River Roads Shopping Center". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. 9N. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  3. ^ "Bigger Penney's store". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 8, 1970. pp. 1E. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "River Roads Shopping Center expanding to 60 stores". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. April 12, 1972. pp. 11N. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  5. ^ Barbara B. Buchholz (March 21, 1983). "Retailing in Jennings dealt a double blow". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. B1, B2. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  6. ^ "Penney opens outlet store at River Roads". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 8, 1984. pp. 14A. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Barbara B. Buchholz (May 11, 1986). "River Roads regroups after loss". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. E1, E3. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  8. ^ Marcia L. Koenig (August 20, 1992). "New anchor may buoy River Roads Center". North Metro Post. pp. 1, 2. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  9. ^ Babette Morgan (March 4, 1994). "Penney will close River Roads store". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. 9D. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  10. ^ "River Roads center is sttruggling to keep from going under". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. March 11, 1999. pp. N3. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  11. ^ Tucci, Linda (1997-12-01). "River Roads Mall owner shops for buyer". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-15.

Gallery[edit]