Southview Plaza, currently undergoing its initial stages of demolition, was originally built in phases, with the first building breaking ground on June 29, 1959, according to president of the O’Fallon Historical Society, Brian Keller.
Keller said that he believes the tenant of the first building, which faced Route 50, was Keck’s Tomboy.
“The building they’re tearing down first was finished in 1965 with Western Auto being the first principal tenant — they moved there from 105 W. First,” Keller said. “Western Auto was there until 2001 when they closed.”
Keller said that in 1998, the city of O’Fallon sent out marketing packets to potential developers which started out by saying that demolition of Southview Plaza was the only way to make the property viable long-term.
“The only problem was that the city neglected to tell the businesses in Southview about that. That sure caused a fuss,” Keller said. “So, you could say by then it was perceived as being in decline. Obviously, demolition in 1998 didn’t happen.”
Keller said that there is a lengthy list of businesses that have existed in Southview Plaza over the years. Some of them being: Papa John’s Pizza, Laundry Spa, Ice Cream Haven, World Martial Arts, House of Hunan, Hana Beauty Supply, Pannu’s Gift and Jewelry, East Gate Grocery, Dollar General, Sara’s Hallmark, Anne’s Hallmark, Jan’s Hallmark, Movie Mania, Shana’s Hair Design, Dragon Palace, Plaza Drugs, Smith Drugs, His Shop, Keck’s Tom Boy, Plaza Liquors, Plaza Barber Shop, Plaza Music and Hobbies, Feichert’s Bakery, John/ Charles Beauty Salon, Peters Plaza Shoes, Fashion Shoppe, Southview Hardware, Thrifty Variety, Western Auto, B & M Cleaners, Donut Palace, Schiappa’s, One Hour Martinizing, J.A. Severn’s Men’s Shop, Prime Leather, Something Special, St Clair Travel Service, Smiley Insurance Agency, Magic Mirror Beauty Shop, Keg, Crate & Barrel, The Ole Keg, Barrel Room Restaurant, Southview Laundromat, P.N. Hirsch, Bollmeier Hobby Shop, Wessel’s, Déjà vu Hair Design, Future Kids, Mud Hut Ceramics, Schmitt Music, Fab & Trim, J.B. Ltd Jewelry and Gifts, Floral Décor, O’Fallon TV & VCR Repair, Montage Used Books, Diane’s Garden, Simple Subs, J R’s Antiques, Taylor Academy of Dance, JFK Highline Consignment, The Beauty Shop, Weil Clothing, Southview Cleaners, Keg & Crate Little Dairy, Gil Klein’s TV and Appliance, Shur Clean Carpets, Quest Internet Gaming Center, Micro Alternative, The Young Set, Ben Franklin, Andrea’s Hair Design.
“I’ve heard more than a few say that Southview Plaza is synonymous with ‘eyesore’. That may be true now but I think it’s also important to remember that in its day it was a thriving modern shopping center that was anything but an eyesore to O’Fallonites,” Keller said. “I know its time is past but it’s still sad to see it go — a lot of memories and history are in that place.”
Assistant City Administrator Grant Litteken said that demolition of Southview Plaza will begin with the buildings bordering Lincoln and at the southern edge of the property.
“Once demolition on the property is complete, the area will become more attractive to potential developers,” Litteken said. “We are working hard to help promote a redevelopment of this site into one that the community will be proud of. This is a great opportunity for O’Fallon.”
Mayor Herb Roach said that the last section to go will be where Papa John’s resides, “we need to wait for their move to a new location.”
The next step in the demolition process will be clean up of soil in areas needed, according to Roach.
Roach said that several concepts of redevelopment have “floated” but there is nothing definite at this time.
“We are going to work with the property owner to get new development,” he said.