St. Louis Marketplace has been challenged since it opened in the early 1990s.
Visibility and access to the site from a major thoroughfare - very important to any big box retailer - are poor. Three major tenants - Pharmor, HQ, and Zam’s Party Supplies - have gone into corporate bankruptcy.
Last summer, Weissmann, a local manufacturer and dealer of costume apparel, approached city officials and the holder of the foreclosed first mortgage and expressed interest in using a large part of the site as an expansion facility for their business.
The company had approximately 300 jobs last summer. Now, in anticipation of the expansion and the growth of their business, they are up to 450 and are “bursting at the seams” (a pun I’ve been saving for this occasion).
The owners envision the Marketplace site as a “one stop shop” for dance. The new facility will have a factory with room for more expansion; a distribution facility; a retail outlet store; and a phone and internet sales center. The company will sell garments manufactured on the site, as well as other items that Weissman carries but does not manufacture.
I think of it as a tax machine: The retail outlet store will generate sales tax; the phone and internet sales will generate sales taxes from purchasers in Missouri. The jobs will generate earnings tax, and Weismann will pay property tax.
In addition, Weissman’s move is good news for its current neighbor, Hustler Conveyor. Hustler is a manufacturer of conveying systems, including racks, that is also looking for expansion space. Had Weissman continued in its current location and attempted expansion there it would have forced Hustler Conveyor to look elsewhere.
Finally, there is also some serious interest by another purchaser in the remaining portion of the Marketplace site. When there is a deal, I will let you know.