Kansas City’s Plaza plots path forward amid retail’s woes

During an era of mall decline, Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza is focused on a strategy to avoid what some are calling the “retail apocalypse.”

The nation’s first outdoor shopping center is celebrating 95 years in business this year, and its owners are set on keeping it alive.

In early 2016, Taubman Centers Inc. and the Macerich Co. bought the Plaza for $660 million, and they hinted at a different mix of retailers.

Now, after two and a half years, those plans are being put into action.

The strategy includes Nordstrom’s move from Overland Park, Kansas, to the Plaza, the addition of new restaurants and the arrival of local shops and national retailers debuting in the market.

In May, Business Insider reported that U.S. mall vacancies hit a six-year high in the first quarter of 2018. While the change in ownership has resulted in a dozen empty storefronts, Plaza officials say they are being deliberate about how to fill its 804,000 square feet of retail space to keep the center vibrant.

According to “Surviving the Retail Apocalypse,” a Foursquare study released in June, adding more food options seems to help increase mall foot traffic.

Plaza ownership announced in February that the area would be home to the area’s first Shake Shack, a fast-casual burger and milkshake chain. It also announced that the Oprah Winfrey-backed True Food Kitchen will open there in 2019.

For the future, Plaza owners are considering possibilities including an upscale movie theater and brick-and-mortar showroom stores for internet retailers. They are also focused on filling empty storefronts, and officials said they are in final negotiations for several spaces.

Read more: Kansas City Star


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