Cityscape

Metcalf South redevelopment plan aims to combine shopping, public gathering space

Central Square — the Kmart and Metcalf South areas north and south of 95th Street along Metcalf Avenue — would be rebuilt as an inviting area for shopping, eating and public gatherings.
Central Square — the Kmart and Metcalf South areas north and south of 95th Street along Metcalf Avenue — would be rebuilt as an inviting area for shopping, eating and public gatherings. Lane4 Property Group

The new owners of Metcalf South Shopping Center — and the shuttered shopping complex to the north — have submitted a redevelopment proposal to the city of Overland Park that calls for plowing down most of the buildings to make way for a new retail, luxury residential and office complex.

Described as a “local getaway” to be called Central Square, the development would serve as a community center where people can shop, eat and catch up with friends or clients. It would also be a gathering place for community events such as school pep rallies, art fairs, farmers markets and musical events.

“We want it to be a place where, whether you are celebrating your child’s birthday or running in to take your dry cleaning, you just feel good about your environment,” said Owen Buckley, president of Kansas City-based Lane4 Property Group, one of the property owners. “We want it to be easy to park, close to where they want to be, easy to get in and out of, easy to get around.”

Last year, Lane4 and the Kroenke Group of Columbia partnered to buy the two properties at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue.

The centers were developed in 1967; 95 West on the northeast corner was originally called the French Market.

With a growing Johnson County residential market, the centers thrived until new, larger and more stylish centers moved in. Metcalf South struggled as tenants moved out and it couldn’t draw strong retailers to replace them. In recent years, wholesale home decor, gift and fashion retailers open limited hours have filled many of Metcalf South’s vacancies — with Macy’s and Sears on the ends. Then Macy’s closed.

Redevelopment plans for the center also have stalled over the years, but the purchase by Lane4 and Kroenke has revived hopes. The new owners have had public meetings for redevelopment suggestions and taken requests at TheNewMetcalf.com.

On Thursday, they unveiled plans that call for 500,000 square feet of retail, 56,000 square feet of office and a four-story, 450-unit luxury apartment project wrapped around a parking garage. Sean Reilly, a spokesman for the city, said Overland Park officials were eager to look over the plans, but it was too early to comment on them.

The 63 acres north and south of 95th Street would be tied together under the Central Square name, upscale design and landscaping. A walking and running path also would wind through and around the project in an effort to draw a steady of flow of traffic.

Under the plan, all the buildings would be demolished except for the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants and Sears, which owns its building.

The northeast corner of 95th and Metcalf, which formerly housed a Kmart, would be more of a neighborhood center with perhaps a specialty grocery store, health and fitness retailer, and furniture store. It also would have office space above the shops, with large glass doors opening to balconies and common spaces. A luxury, multifamily apartment complex, on the elevated northeast corner of the site, would have views of much of Overland Park.

The south half of the project, on the Metcalf South site, also would have some smaller shops and restaurants as well as larger retailers, and multifamily, senior living units or even townhouses.

The two projects would be tied together with a neoclassical Mediterranean design and offer a pedestrian-friendly layout.

The redevelopers have not released a cost for the project or time frame for its start and completion. If all goes as planned, the developers will begin demolition or site and grading work by the end of the year. The project could be built in stages.

But city approval is needed, said Buckley, before they can enter into “serious conversations and final agreements” with tenants. Plans call for a private-public partnership with incentives such as tax increment financing and community improvement district status.

“We want to get moving as soon as possible,” Buckley said. “We know the neighbors want us to and the city wants us to. But we want to take the proper amount of time to make sure it is done correctly so it will last a long, long time.”

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC.

Hear about the plans

Lane4 and project architect DLR Group will discuss the plans in greater detail at a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Matt Ross Community Center in Overland Park.

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