Telester Powell has lived in the Key Coalition neighborhood for 41 years and shopped for decades at the Linwood Shopping Center grocery, until it fell on hard times in the early 2000s before closing in 2007.
She now shops at other markets in Kansas City, Independence and Overland Park, but would like to see her old neighborhood grocery back going strong. That’s just what city officials hope to accomplish with the shopping center redevelopment that began with a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at Linwood Boulevard and Prospect Avenue.
“This is going to be my main store when it reopens,” Powell said as a backhoe began demolishing the old grocery, to make way for a new Sun Fresh full-service market run by John and Pam Lipari. “I’m really pleased it’s reopening under new management.”
John Lipari told a crowd of more than 100 that he plans to offer fresh meats, a wide selection of products and the “best produce in town.” He said good customer service will be a priority for the store that should open in about a year. He also said it should employ about 80 to 100 people, many from the immediate community. Lipari Brothers has a 20-year lease to manage the grocery.
This grocery store and shopping center revival represent an investment of up to $17 million in public funds, City Manager Troy Schulte told the gathering. That includes land acquisition, the cost to build the new store, renovate the end wings of the retail center and rebuild the parking lot.
It’s unusual for the city to take the lead in a development like this, but the City Council approved the investment as a vital contribution to a neglected part of town and a major commercial node in the Prospect Corridor.
“It’s the beginning of a new day,” said 3rd District Councilman Jermaine Reed, who also grew up in the area and now represents the district that includes the neighborhoods around Linwood and Prospect.
He said the shopping center opened in 1982 and thrived for a time, but the grocery store struggled and closed a decade ago. He predicted the shopping center renovation will “continue to be a catalyst for the community” and will prompt more private investment. The redevelopment should be completed in about a year.