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Neighbors reflect on 100 years of the Country Club Plaza

Plaza at Sunrise
Posted at 6:27 AM, Jun 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-02 09:25:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Country Club Plaza turns 100 this year, a huge milestone in the outdoor retail space's life. Everyone has a special memory and tradition associated with Kansas City's popular destination. We asked neighbors and shoppers to share theirs.

"Now that I live on the plaza, I have a lighting party every thanksgiving," said Kathy Benich, who lives in South Plaza.

"I feel like every time you walk around there’s something new to see," said Michael Abraham, a Plaza resident. "The fountains are beautiful."

"Virtually anybody that you talk to that’s over a certain age will start to talk about the Easter Parade or the concerts that used to be in Brush Creek," said Kate Marshall. She's a resident, and the President of the Plaza Area Council.

Speaking to the General Manager of the Plaza, Breana Grosz, she compared the space to an outdoor museum.

"We’re walking right now, and you can’t do this in many retail environments today, and that’s why I think that makes this such an iconic place to spend an afternoon," she said.

But like any brick and mortar, it's had it's ebbs and flows with tenants.

"There are leases, and so there might be natural interim dates or, you know, maybe it’s not working out with that tenant," Grosz said. "But, what you’re seeing with people, tenants, coming and going is we’re always trying to curate the best mix for this place."

"I was living in the city when Central Park really started to fall apart," Marshall said. "And I had that feeling about this area, because when we were working on fixing up this bridge last year, I kept coming here and looking at the river and seeing some stuff that could be better."

Even with the Plaza turning 100, residents still are looking for change.

"Much like Downtown Council have the “Yellowjackets”, the folks that are ambassadors and they’re picking up trash, they’re giving directions, they’re creating a presence," Marshall said.

She noted people don't feel like there's "something to do when they get here." Marshall's goal is to bring more festivals, more events and more attractions for people who visit.

"We continue to be a destination that folks from both sides of the State Line continue to come to," Marshall said. And she wants to make sure it stays that way for the next 100 years.

The Plaza's Centennial Celebration is Saturday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the parking lot behind Classic Cup. There will be food, live music, giveaways and a lot more fun.