Joco 913

Demolition for two dead malls sets stage for future development

Two Kansas malls are getting set for redevelopment.

Demolition has started on the former 700,000-square-foot enclosed Indian Springs Shopping Center in Kansas City, Kan., to help speed up future redevelopment once plans are in place.

It opened in 1971 and lost its last anchor department store in 2001.

Doug Bach, county administrator with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., said demolition should be completed this fall.

“We continue to market the site. We have a few things we’re looking at as far as proposals on the site now, but don’t have anything to announce or any kind of formal statements to make about what we’ll be putting in there,” Bach said. “We will just continue working it until we come up with the right fit and then we’ll be bringing that forward.”

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., purchased the desolate mall in 2007. In April 2014, it signed a two-year contract with local real estate firm Lane4 Property Group to help market the site and is now in negotiations to renew the contract for another two years. Lane4 Property Group did not get any money up front, but would share in the proceeds of any future development it could attract.

The 50-acre tract is at Interstate 635 and State Avenue.

“We are presently working on a development plan for the site. We think any successful plan will incorporate retail and restaurants into the concept,” said Hunter Harris, partner in Lane4 Property Group.

Olathe’s Great Mall of the Great Plains also will come down.

The current owners, the Great Olathe Center LLC, an entity of the Van Tuyl Group, plans to start demolishing the center by June — nearly one million square feet of former retail space.

“Then we will see what the future holds,” said Jeff Smith, spokesman for Van Trust Real Estate, the asset manager for the Great Mall. “This is happening all across the country. The older malls either don’t make sense or the areas around them have changed. It’s great land and we always try to figure out what the site wants to be and that may not be what is there. If it is retail it certainly wouldn’t be a million square feet.”

When it opened at Interstate 35 and 151st Street in August 1997, the $110 million, 812,000-square-foot mall attracted nearly 1 million visitors in its first month of operations.

The so-called “value center” offered a mix of stores selling merchandise at bargain prices — one of only eight such malls in the country. It also emphasized convenience with the 160 stores all on one level, and motorized scooters for the physically disabled and rental strollers available. A second entertainment phase was scheduled to open in 1999.

But the Great Mall soon began to struggle and never recovered from the economic downturn, changes in customers’ shopping habits and other factors. It shut down in September 2015. Some retailers relocated but some closed for good.

Original tenant Burlington Coat Factory has continued to operate in its space. On Tuesday a spokeswoman said in a statement: “The Burlington in the Great Mall of the Great Plains is staying in its location.”

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC