Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mall Owner, City Battle over Taxes $19 Million Gap in Estimate for St. Louis Centre

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mall Owner, City Battle over Taxes $19 Million Gap in Estimate for St. Louis Centre

Article excerpt

The owner of St. Louis Centre says that the downtown mall, with mortgages totaling at least $92 million, is worth less than one-sixth that amount.

The mall's owner, Simon Property Group LP, is appealing the city's property-tax assessment before the State Tax Commission. Simon says its property is worth $16 million, while the city values it at $35 million.

Appraisers for both sides agree that the value of the 11-year-old mall is declining.

The mall has lost money every year since it opened in 1985. Simon Property Group LP is controlled by the families of Herbert and Melvin Simon of Indianapolis. The Simons are veteran mall developers.

Simon representatives are expected to meet here Wednesday with a committee that is pushing to build a convention headquarters hotel near America's Center.

City officials expect to hear details from the Simon group about a plan to tear down the Dillard's store and replace it with a hotel, while also making major changes to the adjoining mall.

Later this month, the State Tax Commission will meet with City Assessor Dennis Hill and with Simon's lawyers and tax experts.

The commission must rule on Simon's appeal of its 1995 real estate tax bills.

The tax bills for St. Louis Centre and the Dillard's building, part of which Simon leases to Dillard's, total $640,000. That's based on the assessor's original opinion that as of Jan. 1, 1995, the property had a combined market value of $44 million.

Simon's taxes are figured on half that market value, because St. Louis Centre has tax abatement. None of the valuations include the Famous-Barr building, which adjoins the mall but is not owned by Simon.

The owners appealed the assessor's valuations to the Board of Equalization, arguing that the real estate's market value was $25 million. In June, the board upheld the assessor's figures. …

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