Joco Opinion

January 14, 2014

Plan required to revitalize site of Metcalf South

The significant size of the center’s footprint means that any successful reuse will have to be fairly massive, whether it’s bringing in new stores, office buildings or housing.

The future of Metcalf South Shopping Center became murkier last week with news that Macy’s has decided to close its store there this spring.

Unless a replacement is found for Macy’s — which appears unlikely — traffic in and out of the center at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue will continue to decline.

Overland Park officials and nearby residents are searching for answers about what could inject more life into that site, which sits at the intersection of two busy streets.

In recent years a new walking trail has been built nearby along Metcalf Avenue, which has become one of the more bustling transit corridors in Johnson County.

Part of the problem is that newer, often fancier shopping areas are just a few miles away from Metcalf South. Many serve the affluent homeowners who live south of 95th Street. In addition, Metcalf South is competing with the highly successful Oak Park Mall just a few miles west on 95th Street.

Redevelopment plans for Metcalf South haven’t gone far in the past.

The significant size of the center’s footprint means that any successful reuse will have to be fairly massive, whether it’s bringing in new stores, office buildings or housing. That challenge argues strongly for attracting a mixed-use project to the site — something like what’s being done with Mission Gateway in northeast Johnson County.

Metcalf South still has a large Sears department store, along with a few other attractions.

But a struggling Metcalf South is not a good look for a vibrant city such as Overland Park. The closing of Macy’s should jump-start more discussions among city officials and developers about revitalizing the future of that part of the city.

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