Remembering Bannister Mall in Kansas City, MO

The Golden Days of Bannister Mall

Banister Mall was once a thriving shopping destination in the southeastern corner of Kansas City, Missouri. Opening its doors on August 6, 1980, at 5600 Bannister Road, the mall quickly gained popularity, attracting regional shoppers.

Boasting four anchor tenants – JCPenney, Macy’s, The Jones Store, and Sears – Bannister Mall had 180 stores and services at its peak, making it one of the largest malls in the Kansas City area.

The location of Bannister Mall is steeped in history. It was once the site of the Three Trails (Santa Fe, California, and Oregon), with the Santa Fe trail crossing the original property. In 1988-1990, the commercial retail area expanded with the addition of Benjamin Plaza, an area north and east of the mall.

Throughout the early 1980s, Bannister Mall was the top shopping destination for residents of South Kansas City and Johnson County, Kansas.

Signs of Decline

Despite its initial success, Bannister Mall faced challenges in the late 1980s and 1990s. Several factors contributed to the decline, including:

  • The extension of bus service from mid-town Kansas City brought an increase in crime and tarnished the reputation of the area surrounding Bannister Mall.
  • The emergence of newer, more attractive developments further south and in Johnson County, Kansas, drew shoppers away from the mall.
  • The area experienced an increasing shift of population towards the suburbs and a growing perception of the neighborhood as unsafe.

Due to these factors, the mall began to lose its anchor tenants. The year 2000 saw the closure of JCPenney, followed by Dillard’s shutting down in 2002 and The Jones Store in the early months of 2005. By 2006, Sears had closed, leaving the mall without anchor tenants.

Bannister Mall
Bannister Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Inevitable Closure

In April 2007, the decision was made to close Bannister Mall due to a dwindling population and increasing operational costs. At the time of the announcement, only half of the mall was open, with the northern section closed.

By 2007, only 50 out of the original 180 stores remained open. In addition, the nearby Walmart Supercenter, one of the company’s earliest Hypermart stores, closed in January 2007.

On May 31, 2007, Bannister Mall closed its doors for the final time.

Circuit City - Bannister Mall
Circuit City – Bannister Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A New Chapter: Demolition and Redevelopment

Demolition of the mall began in early 2009. Since then, various plans have been proposed and withdrawn for redevelopment.

In December 2009, the Kansas City Wizards soccer team, which had intended to build a new stadium on the site, finalized plans to construct their stadium in Kansas instead.

Lane4 Property Group, Inc. announced its intention to develop the Bannister Mall site into a retail and office project called The Trails.

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Despite numerous delays, on August 1, 2013, Cerner Corporation, a prominent medical information technology firm headquartered in Kansas City, unveiled their plans to transform the former Bannister Mall site into a significant office park.

Cerner officials shared that the development would feature a future training center, potential data centers, and various employee amenities such as a health clinic, on-site daycare, a fitness center, and food service.

The corporation also considered allocating a portion of the land for other business developments, including hotels, retail stores, and restaurants.

While the physical structure of Bannister Mall no longer stands, its legacy remains alive in the memories of Kansas City locals who once considered it their go-to shopping destination.

The mall, once a symbol of prosperity and a hub of commerce, now represents the area’s changing landscape and redevelopment efforts. Yet, even though new developments have replaced Bannister Mall, its impact on the Kansas City community will be cherished for years.

Bannister Mall Timeline

  • August 6, 1980: Bannister Mall opens.
  • 1988-1990: Benjamin Plaza was added to the commercial retail area.
  • 2000: JCPenney closes.
  • 2002: Dillard’s closes.
  • Early 2005: The Jones Store closes.
  • 2006: Sears closes.
  • May 31, 2007: Bannister Mall closes.
  • Early 2009: Demolition of the mall begins.
  • August 1, 2013: Cerner Corporation announces plans to redevelop the site.
Bannister Mall
Bannister Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nostalgia and a Fond Farewell

As we look back on the history of Bannister Mall, we remember it as a once-vibrant shopping center that left an indelible mark on the Kansas City community.

Though the mall faced its decline and eventual closure, the memories it created for shoppers and visitors alike will continue to hold a special place in their hearts. The Bannister Mall story serves as a reminder of the inevitable changes in our communities and the importance of cherishing the memories of the past.

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