Chesterfield balks at Dillard’s ‘collusion’ allegations in mall re-development lawsuit

Chesterfield representatives say that a lawsuit brought by a popular fashion retailer is ‘farcical.’
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOV) - Chesterfield representatives say that a lawsuit brought by a popular fashion retailer is “farcical.”

Dillard’s sued the City of Chesterfield in St. Louis County Circuit Court, alleging “collusion” between the city and developers to take away the company’s closed store at the Chesterfield Mall.

“It has been Defendant, and not the developers, that introduced and continued pursuit of tax increment financing for the Redevelopment Area in collusion with the developers,” the lawsuit says. “Defendant and the developers acted together in bad faith... with the intent to strip property rights from landowners within the Redevelopment Area, including Dillard’s, without proper process of law.”

The mall itself is dying and is the subject of a billion-dollar redevelopment plan to reimagine it as the new Downtown Chesterfield through private investment. In December, the Chesterfield City Council approved a $353 million special taxing district. The city says The TIF will be used for infrastructure and road improvements around the new development.

However, Dillard’s wants a judge to stop the TIF from going into effect, and prevent the city from using eminent domain to take over the property. However, Chesterfield City Administrator Mike Geisel says they have no such plans, saying the lawsuit contains many ‘factual inaccuracies.’

“It’s farcical,” Geisel said. “We had four years of an absolutely open, transparent process... The development can occur around that building. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s cost efficient for them.”

The Staenberg Group has acquired most of the property at the mall, but Dillard’s still owns the land that used to house its store. The building is now empty, closed in 2016 due to flooding and never reopened. Group President Michael Staenberg says the group has been in talks with Dillard’s to buy the property and incorporate a new Dillard’s store within the redevelopment. No deal has been reached.

“We hope that we can make a deal to keep Dillard’s and make sure they are part of the process,” Staenberg said.

Dillard’s says it has always planned to reopen the store. Geisel says that process has never been started, saying the building would need significantly remodeled beforehand.

News 4 did not hear back after sending messages to Dillard’s.