A year ago, Lane4 Property Group reported retail construction in the Kansas City area was up again after five slow years.
That observation played out in 2013, as grading started on several new projects, and retailers increasingly opened area stores or announced plans to open new locations.
Now Lane4, a Kansas City commercial real estate firm that specializes in retail developments, says 2014 is poised to be a solid year.
Urban and so-called infill areas are becoming increasingly popular as both developers and retailers take advantage of the dense populations, outdated shopping centers ready for renovation, and an increasing number of Kansas Citians choosing to live closer in.
“Retailers are also discovering that many of these older areas have been starved of not only unique but even basic restaurant, fashion and other retail formats commonly found in the suburbs,” the report said. Demand for Class A locations continues to outpace demand throughout the area.
Among the highlights of the 2014 Kansas City Retail Report:
• Northwest Kansas City: Some Northland centers are boasting their strongest sales and occupancy levels to date. Land north of Tiffany Springs MarketCenter should be developed in the next few years with a major anchor and smaller tenants.
• Northeast Kansas City: The Village at Shoal Creek saw the opening of Mosaic Life Care, a 47,000-square-foot urgent care, primary care and surgery center, an example of the new breed of shopping center “anchors,” and Cheddar’s cafe is scheduled to open soon. Sam’s Club plans to open a store this summer at 8130 N. Church Road.
• Central Kansas City: Lane4 called this one of the more robust markets in the area — and that has led to increased competition for desirable retail space. Although Halls’ announcement that it is leaving the Country Club Plaza this year may have disappointed many of the department store’s customers, it does open up a large space in the heart of the Plaza for a single tenant, or it could be subdivided for several tenants.
• South Kansas City: The former Dillard’s department store spot is still available on the south end of Ward Parkway Center. Redevelopment efforts also are continuing at Truman Corners in Grandview and at the former Bannister Mall site.
• South Trade Area: Menards is moving forward on a Belton store.
• North Johnson County: Construction is underway on the new 359,000-square-foot Ikea store at Interstate 35 and Johnson Drive with a fall opening scheduled.
• South Johnson County: Prairiefire opened on 135th Street between Nall and Lamar avenues in Overland Park, with first-to-the-area tenants like REI and The Fresh Market. The area’s first Sprouts Farmers Market recently opened in Corbin Park, at 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue, and more locations are planned.Restaurant closings
• Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, a Crown Center mainstay since 1985, has closed.
The owner declined to comment. Crown Center officials said that the closing was not unexpected and that it was “exploring possibilities” for the 3,500-square-foot space on the Crown Center Shops’ first floor at 2450 Grand Blvd.
• A year after opening in downtown Lawrence, Freebirds World Burrito has closed. In a statement, area franchisee FB Midwest Development said it closed the restaurant at 741 Massachusetts St. because it didn’t have an “active following” and it never met the company’s expectations.
FB Midwest also has area locations in Lee’s Summit, Mission, Overland Park and Westport, as well as in Columbia and Wichita.
“There is high demand for Freebirds in other locations, so we’ve decided to pursue areas in which we are requested,” the company said.
It plans to open another Freebirds in Wichita in early spring and is in negotiations for locations in Omaha.