KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In 2007, no new enclosed malls were built in the United States. It was the first time since the 1950's that had happened according to The Smithsonian. From the most recent recession to changing consumer habits including online shopping, many enclosed malls across the country and Kansas City did not survive. A few continue to draw shoppers. Some await the wrecking ball. Some continue to face uncertain futures even if demolition has started or even finished. Some have already transformed. Here is a look at how twelve of Kansas City's once enclosed shopping centers look today.
Opening in 1956, Antioch was originally an open air shopping center until becoming fully enclosed in 1978. In 2010, IAS Partners began plans to redevelop the mall as Antioch Crossing. Burlington Coat Factory and Sears stayed after renovations and a new Walmart Neighborhood Market opened in 2014. Other buildings with smaller retail shops opened as well.
Bannister Mall closed in 2007 and was torn down in 2009. Once a sprawling mall of one million square feet in south Kansas City, the site sat empty for years. Then in 2014, crews broke ground on a $4.4 billion redevelopment for Cerner.
The healthcare technology company said in June that three thousand employees will work at the former Bannister Mall site in January 2017.
Blue Ridge Mall
Originally developed as an open air mall in the late 1950s, Blue Ridge was renovated as an enclosed mall in the early 1970s. The first of their three enclosed mall redevelopments in Kansas City, Dave Horn with IAS Partners says Blue Ridge Crossing east of Sterling Avenue was finished in 2008. He adds he believes plans were in place just in the nick of time before the recession. Blue Ridge Crossing is anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Lowe’s stores as well as several other smaller retail stores and restaurants including Starbucks and Chipotle.
This 300,000 square foot shopping center opened in 1973 as a vision of the Hall family. The international headquarters of Hallmark Cards is also a part of the larger 85-acre Crown Center complex. Change in recent years included the additions of SEA LIFE Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center. Renovations in 2014 created a new 60,000 square foot Halls store. The American Restaurant, a long-time fine dining restaurant, will transition to a pop-up dining and event venue in 2017.
Great Mall of the Great Plains
With about one million square feet of indoor retail, this mall opened in 1997 but closed in the fall of 2015. Developers at Van Trust real estate say a combination of changing shoppers’ habits like online shopping and the economic downturn was behind the closure. Demolition is slated to be done around the end of 2016. The future of this mall site is still uncertain. Developers say they are still looking for the right plan.
Opening in 1974, the mall underwent center-wide renovations in 1998 with additional renovations in 2015. Last year, mall officials say 15 new retailers moved into the mall and eight retailers remodeled. We asked how the mall has continued to function as an enclosed mall when so many other malls have not survived. Angela Pyszczynski, the mall's general manager, said family-friendly events are as key as the right mix of retail when customer demands keep changing. "It is about so much more than just the purchase," she said. "It's about the experience."
Indian Springs Mall
Officials from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas say crews are in the midst of demolition at this mall and hope to have it finished by the end of the year. So far, they say they are still looking for a developer for the property. Lane4 is also working with the local government on the redevelopment.
The Wyandotte Daily shared some memories about the Indian Springs Mall just before it was demolished.
Metcalf South Shopping Center
Opening in 1967 at the corner of 95th and Metcalf, the mall is still standing but awaits demolition. Mike Berenbomb from Lane4 hopes demolition will begin by the end of the year once a final development plan gets approval from Overland Park city officials. He says demolition should take about six months. New plans for an open air convenience center include a Lowe’s store expected to open in 2018.
Metro North Mall
In a matter of weeks, developers at IAS Partners say the wrecking ball will take down almost all of the once-bustling one million square foot Metro North Mall. The mall officially closed in April 2014 but had been largely empty for years, once a staple of its Northland neighborhood since opening in September 1976. The existing Macy’s store will stay open during redevelopment as a new open air concept is built. The developer hopes a cinema, specialty grocer, hotel, new restaurants, residential space, and other retail will fill the new mixed use design. A movie theater, they say, is the next likely confirmed tenant they will announce.
Mission Shopping Center
This mall opened in 1956 according to the Johnson County Museum and was torn down in 2006. That lot has now been empty for about a decade. There is a plan but the latest version of the plan to redevelop the site of the old Mission Mall was rejected by the Mission City Council in August 2016. Those plans included a redevelopment anchored by a Wal-Mart with apartments on top. The Mayor and other city leaders say they are now waiting to hear back from the developer.
Ward Parkway Center
Developers from Legacy Development say renovation at this 52 year old mall in south Kansas City started in 2012. Now you’ll find a remodeled AMC theater and the popular Trader Joe’s with the center’s mix as an enclosed mall with many stores like Target accessible from the parking lot. This April, crews broke ground on a $16 million addition that will include five new restaurants and an outdoor patio space.
Oak Park Mall
One of the few remaining enclosed malls in the Kansas City area, Oak Park Mall still regularly sees its parking lot full of shoppers. The mall opened in stages from 1974 to 1976. When asked how this enclosed mall had survived when many across the country haven’t, company officials told us a few reasons from the right mix of retail to having exclusive stores in the market like American Girl, Microsoft, and Nordstrom. Those stores, they say, give people a reason to visit Oak Park over other retail locations.