A $19 million renovation of Red Bridge Shopping Center kicked off Friday in south Kansas City, aided by the Center High School drum line and about 300 applauding neighbors.
The accompaniment wasn’t necessary to drum up excitement for the long-overdue project that has seen outpourings of encouragement. Neighbors last August were broadly supportive of the redevelopment plan when it was presented to the City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee and the city’s Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.
Lane4 Property Group, which bought the struggling center from a previous owner, has been working since then to line up new tenants and begin repairs at the more-than-half-empty center. It expects to complete renovations by October.
Euston Hardware, Blue Bicycle Fitness Center and Sofi Cucina Italiana Restaurant were announced as new tenants.
The developers obtained a 10-year, 100 percent property tax abatement, which keeps taxes at their current level, and agreed to a $30,000-a-year payment in lieu of taxes. In years 11 through 19, the plan abates property taxes by 50 percent.
The company is upgrading the exterior with modern finishes and installing new landscaping, sidewalks and patios. Centric Projects is the general contractor and Generator Studio is the architect, renewing a development team that helped Lane4 renovate Corinth Square in Prairie Village.
“Our objective is to bring it back to its glory days, when it was the staple of the neighborhood, and all of south Kansas City for that matter,” Lane4 vice president Brandon Buckley said of the Red Bridge center.
“I want to see it revitalized,” agreed Nino Gurera, who lives nearby on Santa Fe Trail. Gurera inspected a mockup of the new center and commented that he looked forward to restaurants and a spruced-up grocery.
Red Bridge, at 11212 Holmes Road, was among neighborhood shopping centers built by J.C. Nichols in the 1960s. The square-shaped retail development also includes a separate Sun Fresh grocery store to the south of the square and a separate former bowling alley building to the west.
Euston Hardware will move into the former bowling alley. Sofi Cucina will take the former Bruce Smith Drugs space at the northwest corner of the center.
Previously, the center housed a multiscreen theater, a hardware store, a large restaurant and several other popular food and drinking places. Neighbors have called for it to be returned to a center that provides both services and destination locations.
“It’s going to be very clean, orderly and beautiful,” Lane4 president Owen Buckley said of the center. “We intend to bring light and cheerfulness to the center … and a lot of landscaping.”
Kansas City Council members Scott Taylor and Kevin McManus and former councilman John Sharp also spoke at the event. They repeatedly reminded the neighbors who turned out that it was their support that prompted Lane4 to take on the project and that their support is needed to make sure a renewed center succeeds.