County Port Authority moves forward with funding for Jamestown Mall demolition day after fire

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 7:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) - The day after a fire broke out inside the Jamestown Mall, the St. Louis County Port Authority passed a resolution to demolish the old property, which has been closed since 2014.

“Even though we’ve been waiting for 11 years, the time is now,” said Shalonda Webb, chair of the St. Louis County Council. “The only time I want to come back to Jamestown Mall is when they’re sending a wrecking ball through.”

Webb spoke with News 4 as crews from multiple agencies worked to put out the fire, which started after 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Some of the challenges that our first arriving crews found first off was access. This building was boarded up, so they had to gain access through different areas of the place,” said Roger Ellison, interim fire chief for Blackjack Fire District. “There are some structural integrity issues with this building.”

Ellison says this marks the third major fire inside the dilapidated structure since the building closed in 2014.

While the fire itself remains under investigation, the heat reignited calls for the St. Louis County Port Authority, the owners of the Jamestown Mall property, to tear down the site.

“We don’t want to fuel an idle mind,” said Webb. “This needs to be taken down.”

It’s been almost a year since Webb helped secure state and county funding to go towards the demolition of Jamestown Mall: $6 million in federal COVID relief money and a match of $6 million from the state.

The Port Authority tells News 4 it is a process that has taken nearly a year to move forward with because of bureaucratic hurdles between the county and state to approve the funds.

However, other measures have been taken in the last year. The Port Authority has completed environmental remediation of the site, which includes removing contaminated materials ahead of demolition. They have also created plans and specifications for the demolition process and conducted a market analysis and feasibility study, which includes community feedback on what could be built in place of the mall in the future.

Now, the port authority hopes they can move towards demolition by late summer.

For fire crews like the Blackjack Fire District, it is vacant structures like the Jamestown Mall and others in the region that will continue to pose safety threats.

One similar vacant location that has received its own share of concerns in terms of safety is the city’s Railway Exchange Building, which was condemned back in January.

In recent weeks, the city tore down the old pedestrian bridge between the building and the parking garage, which was helping people get access to the site. It remains unclear what’s next for the nearly century-old building. News 4 asked the city for comment on this building but have not heard back.

As for the Jamestown Mall, the process for demolition can now move forward. Bids will start going out in the coming days for demolition contractors.