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A look at empty Kansas City area malls as old Metro North site gets renovations

Posted at 6:29 AM, Oct 12, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Beginning Tuesday, you’ll be able to drive a golf ball where the old Metro North Mall used to stand near 169 Highway and Barry Road in Kansas City, Missouri’s Northland.

T-Shotz, an entertainment complex focused on golf, opens Tuesday. It features 66 climate-controlled hitting bays spread over three levels, plus a restaurant and event space.

It will be the anchor of Metro North Crossing’s redevelopment of the old mall. Luxury apartments are under construction next door. The Macy’s is still open.

Deb Hermann, the CEO of Northland Neighborhoods, Inc., a community development group in Platte and Clay counties, said she’s happy with the redevelopment.

“I think it’s a great, creative use. It’s badly needed. It’s going to give young people, families, a great place for entertainment,” Hermann said.

Justin Beal thinks T-Shotz will lead to more development in the Northland. He is the managing director for retail brokerage at Newmark Grubb Zimmer, a commercial real estate company in Kansas City.

He said when it comes to redeveloping old malls, it often takes one group to show success, then others follow.

“It’s come to fruition, they’re open, the parking lot is full, now it’s time to the next guy to say, ‘Ok, I’m ready to come in there, I’ve seen it, it’s working,’” Beal explained.

He said redevelopment takes time. The right concept, with the right financial backing all, have to align at the right time.

In his opinion, COVID-19 will change how developers approach the giant, empty mall sites. For one, it’s hard for a company to commit to a five or 10-year lease, as is required in a lot of deals, when they don’t know what tomorrow’s news about the pandemic will bring.

He said more people are turning to online shopping, so distributors may look at large mall lots as great places for warehouses and fulfillment centers.

“Where they can have all this product in there, it’s same-day delivery, consumers click the button, by the end of the day, they have whatever goods they purchased,” Beal said.

Kansas City, Kansas, leaders approved a logistics-based concept for the old Indian Springs Mall. Here’s a look at that plan and an update on other malls in the area.

Indian Springs Mall

Commissioners for the Unified Government turned the old property into an “opportunity zone.” The designation makes it easier for developers to raise money by giving investors tax breaks. A Unified Government spokesperson said Scavuzzo’s Food Service has since received all necessary approvals to build its new headquarters at the site. The Unified Government did grant the company an extension on when construction needs to begin because of COVID-19. In previous government meetings, Scavuzzo’s showcased plans it has to surround its new distribution center with restaurants and other retail establishments.

Bannister Mall

Cerner owns the land which used to be the Bannister Mall, near Bannister and Hillcrest roads. Its Innovations Campus takes up much of the northeast side of the property. In a statement, a spokesperson explained what it has planned for the rest of the property.

“Cerner is working with developers to move forward with retail development surrounding our Innovations Campus. COVID-19 makes this a challenging time to market and sell land at the site specifically for retail. This has always been part of our development plan. Currently, some businesses have publicly announced their plans, while others are in talks for potential future development.”

Mission Mall

A movie theater and entertainment complex named Cinergy is under construction, but crews haven’t worked on the site in weeks, maybe months. The framework for buildings, a parking garage and the cinema are visible from Johnson Drive.

A spokesperson for the developer of the Mission Gateway Project said there are no updates to share at this time. Plans the developer presented to the city included a food hall, office space, apartments, a hotel, an elevated ropes course, zip lines, bowling and more.

Great Mall of the Great Plains

The Great Mall of the Great Plains is a great plain. Utah-based Woodbury Corporation had plans to build an ice hockey facility surrounded by a mix of other uses at the old mall but has since announced it’s looking elsewhere in Olathe.

“Woodbury Corporation continues to actively work with Loretto Companies and the City of Olathe to build a mixed-use project centered around a community ice center. For this purpose, however, we are no longer pursuing the acquisition of the former Great Mall of Olathe property and that associated re-development project known as Mentum,” a Woodbury Corporation spokesperson wrote in a statement.

The owners of the property, KC-based VanTrust Real Estate, said it’s actively marketing the site to developers, admitting COVID-19 has presented challenges in securing the right concept.

Metcalf South Shopping Center

New developments are popping up near 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue. Only the Sears department store and auto center remain untouched since Metcalf Shopping Center closed. The owners of the Sears did not return calls from 41 Action News and have not submitted any proposals to the Overland Park, Kansas, city council this year.

Surrounding Sears, a Lowe’s Home Improvement, senior living facility, and restaurants are open or under construction. Logistics company, Shamrock Trading Corporation, built a new office tower on the north side of the mall where the old French Market used to be.