By early spring expect to see the pulse diminish a little more at what once was a thriving life of shopping malls in the Kansas City area.
Macy’s announced Wednesday that its store in the Metcalf South Shopping Center will be among the five stores it is closing nationwide along with 2,500 job cuts. Sears is the holdout anchor in the once thriving mall.
Big shopping centers 30 years ago thrived as downtown Kansas City was taking its last breaths. Now downtown is coming back to life — but as an entertainment area, not as a center for shopping — while area malls have either disappeared or are suffering.
Those that are gone include Bannister Mall, Benjamin Plaza, Blue Ridge Mall, Indian Springs Shopping Center and the Mission Center. The malls that are on the ropes include Metcalf South, Metro North, the Antioch Center and Truman Corners.
Urban sprawl and new stores in Lee’s Summit; south Leawood; Kansas City, North in Platte County; and south Overland Park have taken the customers and the traffic from the traditional malls.
The traditional shopping centers that have remained include the Independence Center and Oak Park Mall in Overland Park.
The old malls that have reinvented themselves to maintain retail traffic are the Ward Parkway Center, where there is a Target and Trader Joe’s, and what used to be the Blue Ridge Mall, which now is the site of a Wal-Mart and a Loew’s Home Improvement store.
What’s fascinating is that young people stroll through that Wal-Mart in the evenings and on weekends just like other youths walk around the Country Club Plaza. It is quite amazing to behold.