ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Dignitaries assembled at the vacant Jamestown Mall to mark the start of the demolition of the long-abandoned shopping center.
And while a contractor is handling the demolition, there were fireworks between north St. Louis County officials, the head of the county council, and a local state senator during Tuesday morning’s news conference.
The sparks started flying after St. Louis County Chairwoman Shalonda Webb said she was the prime mover in the project and had not received much help from lawmakers in Jefferson City. That rubbed State Senator Angela Mosley the wrong way, who took the podium with strong words for Webb.
“This is my district—District 13—and I will address some of the lies that was given up here on this podium. I never had Shalonda Webb in my office. She never came to my office,” Mosley said. “I never seen her and I never was against giving $6 million to (demolish) this mall.”
The state senator then added this dig: praising the person Webb defeated to get on the county council.
“I also acknowledge … former State Representative and Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, who really is the one who championed this when she was in office,” Mosley said.
Councilwoman Webb was loaded for bear when she took the podium.
“I knocked on the door of the senator of the 13th District and got no response, but they looking through their logs to see if I came through, but I don’t have reason to lie, and I don’t have time, and I’m trying to get to heaven,” Webb said.
“So what I cannot allow is to turn the other check for Senator Mosley to walk up here and speak of how much she loves this community. Well, she did not work and, in fact, worked in opposition to get Jamestown Mall prevented from being torn down and get the $6 million from the state.
“I’m being honest about you. It’s not about the show; it’s about being honest. I know it’s a celebration, but I want the celebration to be founded on truth.”
Things did quiet down a bit after that exchange, with a few words from St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.
“And there’s an old saying: you’ve got to break some eggs to make an omelet. In this case, you’ve got to knock down some buildings to create a more promising future for this site,” he said.
Jamestown Mall opened in 1973 and shut down in 2014 because of crime and an economic downturn.
Officials hope that by clearing the land, they can convince some other business to come in. Page said some of it will be green space. The clearing process is supposed to be finished by next summer.