Workers face job cuts with closure of Halls on the Plaza

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Halls Country Club Plaza store location will close its doors next summer to expand at Crown Center.

Officials with the department store say about half of Halls' 230 associates will be let go.

Halls plans to expand on the third floor of Crown Center. The plan to open a new 60,000 square foot shopping experience next to its Hallmark headquarters will cost $10 million.

Construction is set to start on the third floor of Crown Center next spring, and the final project is expected to be complete in September 2014. The Plaza Halls store will close in summer 2014.

"If I was in Halls shoes, I would have done it a long time ago," Vivone's employee Robin Williams said.

Williams has worked at Vinone's, a clothing store on the third floor of the center, for a decade. It's been open for more than 25 years.

Employees at Crown Center are trying to find out what the Halls expansion will mean for them.

Crown Center officials say the Off Center Theatre and Screenland will stay put, but Function Junction will move to the second floor.

"We were confident Crown Center wanted us to be part of the center," Function Junction owner Mary Merola said. "They expressed that our use and the way we present in the center was in keeping with their vision."

Merola opened Function Junction in 1977. While it was closed for about five years, it came back to Crown Center, where it plans to stay.

Crown Center officials plan to meet with other shop tenants in the coming weeks and months about what's next.
Williams said whatever happens, she will be fine.

"I can get in somewhere else, and my adventure is a store of my own," she said.

Halls said in the current retail environment, it does not make sense to have two Halls stores 20 blocks away from each other.

"We've enjoyed our 50 years on the Plaza, and we'll miss it. We've been great partners with High Woods, but we're excited to be coming to our Hallmark headquarters and the urban core," Halls President and CEO Kelly Cole said. "We wanted to be part of the excitement that's happening at Crown Center."

Halls has been on the Plaza for 50 years.

The company was founded in 1910 by Joyce C. Hall inside the lobby of the Gordon and Koppel building at 10th and Walnut downtown.

In 1916, it opened as a retail space on East 11th, known as the fashionable Petticoat Lane.

In 1950, Halls grew and moved to 11th and Grand, and the Plaza location opened in 1965.

In 1973, the original downtown Halls store closed, and plans for a Crown Center location followed.

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