Plaza updates to know for Art Fair weekend: new retailers, fewer parking spots

As it gears up for the 2019 Plaza Art Fair this weekend — and heads into the holiday season — the Country Club Plaza is starting to fill up some long empty retail spots.

Here are some updates:

Sterling Bank is taking the former Zoom toy store spot at 300 Ward Parkway. The bank, which is based in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, has 11 locations in Missouri and Illinois. It hopes to open the Plaza location by the end of the year, its first metro location.

Sterling Bank said it offers a full array of consumer and business banking products and services competitive with national banks. It also specializes in lending for the affordable housing industry.

The Zoom toy store had operated in the space for eight years before closing in early 2018.

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Overland Park’s Unique Finds has opened a pop-up at 4709 Central St. that will run through the end of the year. It sells jewelry, home decor, accessories and gifts — including locally made items and fair trade.

Jet Couture Jewels had previously operated in the spot. It closed in early 2018.

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Cupcakin Bakery, a yearlong pop-up, plans a soft opening Friday, Sept. 20, with a grand opening in October. It has a retail area for desserts and specializes in children’s parties.

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Panache Chocolatier & Cafe recently closed after four decades on the Plaza. The Plaza has proposed using the 1,000-square-foot space for ground level office, possibly as a portal to second floor offices.

According to the City Planning & Development Department staff report on the proposal: “Active uses are encouraged on the ground floor within the Plaza area,” so a ground floor office use would require a special use permit.

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The former Panache retail shop and patio could be turned into an office space or entryway to offices on the second floor. Joyce Smith

Meanwhile, the buildings on the west side — formerly the Capital Grille (it relocated on the Plaza), a bank with drive-thru, and a restaurant space, as well as movie theaters on the second floor — have been blocked off as the Nordstrom development moves forward.

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Other empty Plaza spaces include the former Houston’s restaurant, Scooter’s Coffee, The Waffle Bar, Coveted Home and the Plaza Wedding Chapel.

And the Nordstrom work also means fewer parking spaces.

The site has a six-story garage with 1,185 spaces. But workers have now blocked off 200 spaces. Nordstrom previously said it would permanently eliminate 200 spaces in the garage but is now referring questions to the Plaza.

In a recent statement, Plaza officials said: “Parking spaces in the Seville Garage will be reduced during construction and as a part of the Nordstrom development. While approximately 200 spots will be eliminated, we will retain approximately 1,000 free parking spots in this garage.”

Workers also have temporarily blocked off some empty buildings on the Nordstrom site, as well as the entrance to the garage from Jefferson Street. But people can still enter the garage from 47th Street and from Summit Street.

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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.