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Ahead of Country Club Plaza sale, former mayor discusses 'the crown jewel of Kansas City'

Former Kansas City Mayor Sly James shares his thoughts on the state of the Plaza
Posted at 5:32 PM, Jun 26, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many people consider the Country Club Plaza as "the crown jewel of Kansas City."

Like any jewel, it can use some polishing from time to time, and that's what some hope the new ownership can do.

The Plaza District Council said Dallas-based firm Highland Park Village Partners is expected to finalize the purchase of the Country Club Plaza on Friday, June 28.

The KCMO district had been under the ownership of Macerich and Taubman Centers, with Macerich as the majority owner, since 2016.

Former Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James was in office during that time.

"There was a level of excitement and hope that did not actually materialize over the time," James said. "They lost all of the total local connections."

Former Kansas City Mayor Sly James

The former mayor explained more national businesses started to take over, pushing out the local spaces.

But it's those local spaces, and memories that go with it, that James said makes the Plaza so special.

"Here, relationships do matter, and the relationships that people have with the Plaza matter," James said. "Make sure that you’re not just trying to capture money, but you’re trying to build experiences. Experiences build emotional contact, and emotional contact means that people come back to where they felt good."

Daniel Brocato is vice president at Block and Companies Realtors.

He works on the Plaza, and grew up visiting it.

"It was so much more of a welcoming environment than what it is now," Brocato said.

Daniel Brocato, Vice President of Block and Companies Realtors

The KC-native said the state of commercial real estate in the retail sphere is in a good place. He agrees, there needs to be a local business focus, and a decrease in rent.

"With new ownership it should help to drive prices to a little more reasonable rate to where people could actually succeed," Brocato said.

He said he hopes the Plaza can be brought back to it's former glory. Mayor James believes that's possible, so long as the new owners don't try to dull it's sparkle.

"Silver tarnishes, you know, if you don’t want it to tarnish you have to clean it every now and then," Mayor James said.