New Country Club Plaza restaurant stirs controversy over modern design

UPDATE Aug. 25, 2011 |  Seasons 52 has decided to cancel plans to change the architectural design in the iconic district due to a large number of complaints.

ORIGINAL POST | KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Friends of the Plaza group wants the new Seasons 52 restaurant to reconsider its modern design.

The restaurant chain is being built in place of Eddie Bauer at the corner of Ward Parkway and Broadway.

According to The Kansas City Star, the restaurant plans to use stonework instead of stucco.  Stucco is core to the Spanish architecture throughout the plaza.

Kansas City businessman Butch Rigby said the new architectural design is "atrocious."

"They've taken a suburban design and plopped it into the Plaza," said Rigby.

Rigby said he has no problems with the restaurant moving to the Country Club Plaza.  He just has an issue with the construction on the historic building.

"There are great works of art here," Rigby said. "It reflects history and what they've done is take something that took a lot of thought and an award winning architectural design that is over 40-years-old and they've replaced it with something that can be found on almost any strip mall in America without any regard for anything else around it."

Spencer Thomson is an attorney representing Highwoods Properties, the group that owns the Plaza.

"We think they do an excellent job of maintaining the integrity of the Plaza, they're excellent stewards," said Thomson. "And they've invested a lot of time and good will and effort in making the Plaza a special place and keeping it a special place."

He said after a few tough years, the Plaza is now almost completely full and with new businesses comes change.

"If you look at a Victoria's Secret store, for example, they're fairly consistent across the country, they have a trade dress, it's part of their design and trademark," Thomson said. "You want to try and accomodate that as a landlord within reason, but still be sensitive to the historic nature of the Plaza."

But that's not enough for some Plaza lovers.

On Seasons 52's Facebook page , Carrie Webster Lane writes:

"I certainly will not be dining at your restaurant in Kansas City if you continue on the course of destroying one of the most beloved corners of the historic Country Club Plaza.

Tucker Johnson writes:

"This will not just blow over.  If you build your square, corporate facade over the existing Spanish building front, it will backfire against you and lead to a boycott and a public relations nightmare."

In an email to NBC Action News, a Seasons 52 spokesperson said:

The Plaza's developer believes our restaurant preserves the retail district's architectural integrity. When construction is complete, we're confident people will be very pleased with the results as they join us for a seasonally inspired dining experience that celebrates living well. We're very pleased and excited to be bringing Seasons 52 to Kansas City and the venerable Country Club Plaza, creating about 100 new jobs and adding to the local economy.

Seasons 52 is set to open in Spring 2012.

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