A construction fence blocks public access, but the first exterior signs of demolition at Metcalf South Shopping Center now are visible.
Once the retail epicenter of Johnson County, the shopping mall is coming down to make way for a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.
The mall, developed in 1967 at the southeast corner of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue, now is owned by Lane4 Property Group and The Kroenke Group.
The redevelopment team also proposes about 14 small retail or office buildings ringing the site, depending on market demand.
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Lane4 principal Owen Buckley said demolition is expected to continue through mid June, “then you’ll see earth-moving machines come in to level the land and put in interior road systems and utilities.”
Buckley said the property is likely to be ready for Lowe’s to begin construction about Oct. 1.
The Sears store at the south end of the mall is separately owned and is not a part of the redevelopment plan.
A spokesman for Sears Holdings, owner of the Sears property, said Monday in an emailed response: “We will continue to monitor the developments at the Metcalf South Shopping Center. It’s business as usual at the Sears store, and we will continue to remain open and serve our members and customers as we have for the last nearly 50 years.”
The mall had been largely vacant since 2014, reflecting a shift in consumer shopping preferences. Online retail and smaller neighborhood shopping centers proliferated, spelling the end of many large malls across the country, including some in the Kansas City area.
Overland Park city planners previously rebuffed the redevelopers’ plan for an upscale multi-use retail, office and residential development on the site, saying that it didn’t conform to the city’s “Vision Metcalf” guidelines.
Lane4 replaced the $324 million multi-use proposal, which sought public incentives, with the $80 million Lowe’s plan. It was approved last year by the Overland Park City Council and requires no public incentives.
The Lowe’s anchor store is to be about 165,000 square feet, positioned where the former Macy’s store was located at the north end of the mall.
Crossland Construction is leading the demolition team and has erected fencing around the site perimeter to bar public access.
A spokeswoman for the development team said no explosives will be used in the demolition. Activity visible Monday to passersby included small backhoes on the west side, pulling out construction debris from the mall’s interior.
Buckley said Lane4 “has some things in the works” for the proposed retail pad sites along both 95th and Metcalf, but nothing is ready to announce.
Asked about the large and mostly vacant retail property — the former French Market/Kmart site across 95th Street, also owned by Lane4 and Kroenke — Buckley said nothing there is being marketed yet.
“We’re still figuring out what we want to do with the big Kmart site before we sell the pad sites,” Buckley said, referring to the north part of the development team’s holdings.