From Retail to Residences: Metro North Mall in Kansas City, MO

The Glory Days of Metro North Mall

In the Kansas City North area, Metro North Mall emerged as a prominent shopping center during the latter part of the 20th century, particularly throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

This mall, which officially opened its doors in September 1976, was notable for its expansive size. It encompassed a vast 1.3 million square feet of retail space.

Within this large area, shoppers had access to 125 storefronts, complemented by four major anchor stores, all distributed over two well-designed shopping levels.

The design of the mall was not only functional but also visually striking. Its center court area was incredibly distinctive, featuring an innovative design that included a stage set against the backdrop of a water feature.

Adding to the aesthetic appeal, four miniature hot-air balloons were suspended from the ceiling, creating a unique and engaging atmosphere for visitors.

Beyond its primary function as a shopping location, Metro North Mall was also a center for entertainment and leisure activities.

It housed a six-screen AMC theater, offering movie enthusiasts a range of cinematic experiences.

For those seeking interactive entertainment, the mall included the Nickelodeon arcade, a popular spot for games and amusement.

Additionally, the mall catered to various dining preferences with its selection of eateries.

This included well-known fast-food joints like Dairy Queen, famous for its ice cream treats, and In-a-Tub, offering a distinct dining experience.

Overall, Metro North Mall was a multifaceted establishment that combined retail shopping with entertainment and dining, making it a central hub in the Kansas City North area for several decades.

Its unique design elements and diverse facilities made it a memorable location for residents and visitors.

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During the holiday season, the mall was abuzz with activity, and the management even brought in parking trams from Worlds of Fun to accommodate the influx of shoppers.

The Decline

But as the new millennium approached, Metro North Mall’s fortune worsened.

The mall’s owners began developing a competing set of strip malls, Zona Rosa, which led to increased lease prices at Metro North and many clients moving to the new location. A domino effect of closures followed:

  • Montgomery Ward closed in 2001
  • Both AMC theaters closed
  • JCPenney closed in mid-2008
  • In 2007, Dillard’s transitioned into a clearance center and vacated the premises in late 2008
  • MC Sporting Goods closed in March 2009

Macy’s, originally The Jones Store, was the last anchor tenant.

Redevelopment Plans and Closure

Several attempts were made to revitalize the mall, starting with a 2007 partnership with Alberta Development Partners to turn it into an outdoor lifestyle center.

Unfortunately, the plan fell through due to the recession and the death of mall owner Sherman Dreiseszun.

In 2010, new plans surfaced with MD Management Inc. to revamp the mall, which had fallen to 17% occupancy.

These plans involved tearing down most of the current mall and replacing it with a smaller, enclosed mall with mixed uses.

While the redevelopment faced setbacks, in May 2013, MD Management announced a new plan to replace the mall with a one-level enclosed mall featuring two anchor stores.

However, by April 15, 2014, Metro North Mall closed its doors, leaving only Macy’s operational.

The mall was eventually sold to IAS Partners Ltd. in March 2015, with plans to replace the enclosed mall with an open-air center.

The Demolition and Legacy

In August 2016, redevelopment plans by Metro North Crossing LLC were approved, paving the way for the demolition of the existing mall structure.

The new mixed-use site would include retail, office, restaurant, hotel, and residential spaces.

The team behind this project had successfully redeveloped Antioch Crossing and Blue Ridge Crossing, two other indoor malls in the Kansas City area.

Anchor Stores Opening Closing
Macy’s (second location) 2006 Currently operating
MC Sporting Goods
(Located in a section of the
former Wards, as a junior anchor)
2002 2009
Dillard’s 1986 2008
JCPenney 1976 2008
The Jones Store 1976 Became Macy’s in 2006
Montgomery Ward 1976 2001
AMC Theatres (in mall and outparcel) 1976 2002
Macy’s (first location) 1976 Became Dillard’s in 1986

The mall, once a bustling and lively place, is now a distant memory for many locals who remember it fondly.

However, Metro North Mall leaves behind a legacy of shopping and entertainment experiences that many Kansas City North residents will never forget.

Its rise and fall remind us of the ever-evolving retail landscape and the need for constant adaptation in a competitive market.

As we look back on the history of Metro North Mall, we are reminded of its heyday and the pleasure it brought countless shoppers over the years.

Although the mall is gone, its memory lives on in the hearts of those who frequented its stores, dined at its eateries, and enjoyed its entertainment offerings.

The Evolution of Metro North Crossing

Fast forward to the present day, and the site, now known as Metro North Crossing, is blossoming into a vibrant mixed-use development, a beacon of modern urban living and entertainment.

The Rise of Woodstone at Metro North Crossing

At the center of this transformation is Woodstone at Metro North Crossing, a luxury apartment complex signifying the project’s residential ambitions.

Developed by IAS Partners, this $60 million venture features 249 meticulously designed apartment and townhome-style units.

The success of Woodstone is evident in its impressive occupancy rate, with 93 percent of the units already leased.

This overwhelming demand has spurred the developers to expand their vision, adding 213 units to the project, bringing the total to 462 residential units.

The blend of modern living spaces with convenient retail and office access embodies contemporary urban life’s essence.

A Hub for Retail and Social Life

Woodstone isn’t just about residential spaces; it’s a nucleus for community and commerce. The ground floor of one of the Woodstone buildings is a retail paradise, spanning 30,000 square feet.

Approximately half of this space is already occupied by a diverse array of local businesses, from the cozy Hullhouse Coffee to the rejuvenating Bloom Nails & Spa and the fitness-focused HOTWORX.

These businesses are not just tenants but vital components of a thriving community, offering residents and visitors a taste of local flavor and lifestyle.

Preserving and Enhancing Community Ties

The redevelopment of Metro North Crossing is a careful balance of new and old.

Recognizing the value of longstanding community ties, IAS Partners retained leases for pad sites occupied by familiar names like McDonald’s, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden.

These establishments, survivors of the mall’s evolution, continue to thrive, demonstrating the project’s commitment to preserving a sense of community continuity.

The New Era of Entertainment and Community Engagement

Metro North Crossing is more than just a place to live and shop; it’s a destination for entertainment and social gathering, a testament to the changing dynamics of urban development.

T-Shotz: A New Entertainment Landmark

A significant highlight of the redevelopment is T-Shotz, a three-level entertainment center developed by IAS Partners.

This modern facility features 22 hitting bays on each level, complemented by two bars and restaurants, offering a unique blend of sport and leisure.

The recent approval of plans to build four pickleball courts in the T-Shotz parking lot adds another layer to the site’s recreational offerings, catering to a growing demand for diverse and accessible sports facilities.

Creating a Community-Centric Space

One of the most exciting aspects of Metro North Crossing is its vision for public spaces.

The developers have planned an extensive green space that will enhance the area’s aesthetic and serve as a versatile venue for community events, like farmers’ markets and concerts.

This focus on creating communal areas reflects a deep understanding of modern urbanites’ desire for spaces that blend leisure, nature, and community interaction.

A Glimpse into the Future: Main Street and More

Looking towards the future, Metro North Crossing is set to feature a ‘Main Street,’ designed to emulate a mini-downtown atmosphere within a suburban setting.

This concept aims to create a walkable area where residents can stroll, shop, and socialize.

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

The development plans include a neighborhood grocery store and a two-story building combining retail and Class A office space.

These additions are still in the early stages of marketing, showing the project’s ongoing commitment to growth and adaptation.

Conclusion

Metro North Crossing stands as a shining example of urban redevelopment done right. It’s a place where the past is honored, the present is vibrant, and the future is full of potential.

As the project continues to evolve, it promises to be a cornerstone of community, commerce, and entertainment in Kansas City, MO, setting a standard for urban redevelopment projects nationwide.

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

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