From Vision to Decline: The Story of Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas

Development of Metcalf South Shopping Center

Metcalf South Shopping Center opened its doors in Overland Park, Kansas, in 1967. It was the brainchild of local entrepreneur Sherman Dreiseszun and his company MD Management.

Dreiseszun envisioned the shopping center as a romantic city where people could shop, work, relax, and have fun in perfect weather year-round.

The shopping center was built to include a full range of stores, restaurants, playgrounds, and parks to provide customers with a complete shopping experience.

Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas

Martin-Salsbury Constructors, Inc. of Topeka was contracted to build the shopping center, a two-level structure consisting of approximately 601,800 leasable square feet and 60 stores.

The center occupied a vast 50-acre piece of land approximately 7.3 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, Kansas. It was also conveniently located just a short distance north of an interchange that recently underwent completion, namely Interstate 435.

Metcalf South’s Grand Opening Ceremony and Attendees

Metcalf South Shopping Center’s grand opening ceremony was held on August 3, 1967, with nearly 10,000 people in attendance. The event featured Mayor Duard Enoch of Overland Park and Debbie Bryant, Miss America of 1966, as special guests.

Most stores in the shopping center participated in the official grand opening, showcasing their offerings to eager visitors. However, the south anchor, Sears, was not yet open for business and would begin operations a few months later, in October 1967.

The grand opening of Metcalf South marked the beginning of a new era for the residents of Overland Park and the surrounding areas, as the shopping center provided a range of goods and services for the local community.

The successful turnout at the event signaled excitement and anticipation for this new addition to the city’s landscape.

Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas

Expansion of Metcalf South in 1975

In 1975, Metcalf South underwent a significant expansion to accommodate the growing number of businesses in the area. The development involved the addition of a third-level concourse, which added approximately 103,500 leasable square feet to the mall.

The concourse housed popular businesses such as Spencer Gifts, Taco Via, Smaks Hamburgers, and Orange Julius.

In addition to the concourse, an expansion was made to the existing Jones Store, which added 38,000 square feet of retail space to the store, bringing its total area to 221,000 square feet. A lower-level parking deck was also constructed to provide more parking space for shoppers.

Following these expansions, the Metcalf South Shopping Center increased its space to 800,000 square feet, with three levels of retail space to accommodate a growing number of businesses. As a result, the mall became a popular shopping destination, attracting thousands of shoppers daily.

Sears - Metcalf South Shopping Center
Sears – Metcalf South Shopping Center” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Renovations 1989-1990

Between 1989 and 1990, a comprehensive interior refurbishment was carried out on the entire shopping complex.

Among the upgrades performed were installing stylish chrome, mirrored ceilings, and elegant marquee lighting fixtures. In addition, a vacant Woolworth was sectioned into two levels of inline stores, including a Food Court on Level 2 of the mall.

In addition, the Safeway space was renovated to become Carrousel Park, a small amusement area that boasts an array of fun activities for visitors to enjoy. This included a video arcade, a carousel, and a roller coaster ride, all designed to provide visitors with an exciting and enjoyable experience.

Macys - Metcalf South Shopping Center
Macy’s – Metcalf South Shopping Center” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The renovation of Metcalf South Shopping Center in 1989-1990 was a significant update to the complex’s interior. The renovation aimed to modernize the mall and attract new customers.

One of the fundamental changes was the installation of chrome and mirrored ceilings, which created a brighter and more modern atmosphere. In addition, the mall’s lighting fixtures were also upgraded with new marquee lighting to make it more eye-catching.

During this renovation, a vacant Woolworth space was repurposed into two levels of inline stores, which included a Food Court on Level 2 of the mall. The Safeway space was also renovated and transformed into Carrousel Park, a mini amusement area that featured a video arcade, a carousel, and a roller coaster.

These renovations enhanced the shopping experience for customers and added to the mall’s appeal.

Metcalf South Shopping Center
Metcalf South Shopping Center ” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Decline of Metcalf South

The opening of Town Center Plaza in 1996 and The Great Mall of the Great Plains in 1997 put even more pressure on Metcalf South.

Unable to keep up with the changing times, the shopping center began to lose tenants and foot traffic. Despite undergoing renovations in 1989-1990, it was no match for the newer and trendier malls.

By the early 2000s, Metcalf South was struggling to stay afloat. Many stores had closed, leaving vast stretches of empty storefronts. As a result, the mall became known as a “dead mall,” with only a handful of remaining businesses still operating.

Transformations of Metcalf South Shopping Center

Metcalf South Shopping Center was established near the French Market, a unique department store that became a strip mall anchored by Kmart and Hancock Fabrics. However, Kmart closed in late 2013, and Hancock Fabrics announced its move in early 2014.

The mall was built with two primary floors of retail space, offering visitors diverse shopping options. In later years, a third floor was added, becoming the site of various office spaces.

Metcalf South Shopping Center featured two anchor stores: Sears and the Jones Store Company. However, as time passed, Macy’s took over both stores.

While the Glenwood Arts movie theater and Sears continued to operate in the mall, Macy’s announced the closure of its Metcalf South store in January 2014.

The closure of Macy’s was a significant loss for the shopping center, as it had been a mall staple for years.

The Rise and Fall of Metcalf South Shopping Center

The declining state of the mall led to its purchase in February 2014 by Lane4 Property Group and The Kroenke Group. Despite efforts to revive the mall, it was clear that the property had seen better days, and the owner of Lane4 announced that it was likely that the mall would be razed.

On September 19, 2014, Metcalf South Mall closed its doors for good, and the Glenwood Arts movie theater followed suit on January 25, 2015.

The mall was subsequently demolished, except for the Sears building, which began its store closing sale on June 30, 2017, and ultimately closed on September 17, 2017.

But the property was not destined to remain abandoned for long. In July 2019, a new Lowe’s store opened, occupying the space that Glenwood Arts and Macy’s held at Metcalf South Mall. Around the same time, a new ice cream parlor, Andy’s Frozen Custard, opened its doors.

In 2020, construction began on a new Longhorn Steakhouse, which opened to the public early the following year. Everest Bank also constructed a new building in 2021, transforming the once-dead mall into a bustling retail and commercial center.

Though Metcalf South Shopping Center may be a thing of the past, the property’s rebirth shows that there is still potential for new life and growth in even the most struggling retail spaces.

Avatar of Spencer Walsh

I'm Spencer Walsh, a professional traveler who loves to help people discover new places and learn about different cultures. I've traveled worldwide, from Europe to Asia and Africa to South America. My favorite thing about traveling is getting lost because it allows me to discover unexpected gems—finding a hidden museum or stumbling upon a beautiful park in the middle of the city.

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