What do you want at Metcalf South? Let the new owners know

04/29/2014 2:18 PM

04/29/2014 5:04 PM

The new owners of Metcalf South Shopping Center, and 95 West Shopping Center to the north, want to hear from their future customers.

A standing-room-only crowd of about 200 people showed up for the owners’ first public meeting on April 22. Another was scheduled for Tuesday night. People also can leave requests at TheNewMetcalf.com.

“What’s missing? What are they crazy about? What are they not crazy about? Maybe there is a fantastic retailer or restaurant that’s not here,” said Owen Buckley, president of Lane4 Property Group, part of the new ownership group. “Then we start putting a plan together. It needs to be a place people want to be and it needs to be an experience.”

In late February, Lane4 announced it had teamed up with the Columbia-based The Kroenke Group to buy the two centers, on 62 acres at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue. 95 West was originally known as the French Market and also has been dubbed the Kmart center for former tenant Kmart.

“We do have lots of ideas,” Buckley said. “But we want to get new ideas and validate our existing ideas. It has always been our policy to get in the neighborhoods and talk to people beforehand.”

Buckley responded to these questions from attendees at the April 22 meeting and during a phone interview on Tuesday:

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Could you turn the French Market’s “ski slope” into an asset?

“I’m thinking of vistas, views instead of looking at it as a negative,” Buckley said of the shopping center’s slope, low on the Metcalf Avenue side then rising up to the building that housed Kmart.

Metcalf South and 95 West also are considered one project, not two, Buckley said, and he wants a “physical connection” between them, perhaps a pedestrian connection or even a vehicular connection.

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Are you talking to Wal-Mart? Lowe’s for the French Market?

“Nothing is signed. We have not met with one retailer,” Buckley said. “We’ve had inquiries and we’ve called retailers to see if they would have an interest. But we have to respect their confidentiality.”

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What’s going to happen to the current tenants?

Sears owns its building and plans to remain, Buckley said. The new owners do “not have a plan to close the Glenwood Arts theater as of right now.” Other tenants have been on short-term leases — 30 to 90 days — and have been given notice to vacate by July or August to save on overhead for heating, cooling and security.

“Sears has agreed to allow us to do that, even though, according to the original document signed 50 years ago, we were to keep the mall open regardless,” Buckley said. “They’re our neighbors. We are building a project next to them.”

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What’s going to happen to the fountains in the center of the mall?

“We’re not sure yet. We are taking inventory. It could be for our future development or we could sell them,” Buckley said

•  C

an you guarantee us that Metcalf South and the other center won’t end up like Mission Center (which has gone through several revisions leading to construction delays)?

Buckley said he couldn’t make any guarantees but pointed to Lane4’s track record with redevelopments at Corinth Square Shopping Center, The Village in Prairie Village, 39Rainbow and elsewhere.

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What is the trigger to start redevelopment? I’m 75 years old and I would like to see what it looks like before I die.

The soonest construction would start would be two or three years and environmental issues like asbestos have to be dealt with.

“We’re not real big on speculation,” Buckley said. “We want to have signed leases before we start construction, probably 70 to 85 percent.”

Among the requests for the new development: a gas station, community spaces, artists lofts, an arena for live theater and other family entertainments, restaurants, and perhaps turning it into an upscale mixed-use development like Mission Farms.

“We have a lot of different ideas and we do want to get it right. We don’t want it to last 50 years, we want it to last 100 years,” Buckley said.

Quick bites

•  Prairie Village’s new Starbucks is now open in The Village, 6920 Mission Road, Suite A.

Starbucks relocated from a nearby location in the Village to the new building — on the site of the former Waid’s restaurant. It took a 2,400-square-foot space that will seat nearly 60 people and it has a drive-through. The store also is featuring a Clover brewing system, available at select Starbucks stores.

The new Village building has an additional 3,750 square feet available for one or two tenants.

•  The Pink Chandelier - A Vintage Market, closed its Town Center Plaza, Leawood, location at the end of March and now has a weekend-only store in the West Bottoms on the third floor at 1420 W. 13th Terr. The shop sells home decor and furniture in several styles — vintage, cottage, French, farmhouse, and urban — along with fashions. It also offers workshops and custom painting and design services.

to Reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send e-mail to jsmith@kcstar.com follow her on twitter and facebook at joycekc.

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