Saturday, March 5, 2011

Another Try at Redeveloping Bannister Mall Area

A new $590 million plan proposed for the area previously occupied by Bannister Mall has been proposed by Lane 4 Property Group got some play in the newspaper Thursday. The proposal called for retail, office and light industry to be developed in this area.

My very first reaction? Too much retail--more retail that is the same-same big box stuff will not survive in today's economy. There is a lot of empty space out there right now--one would need something unique and one of a kind to succeed with a new development.

I was curious to see what the readers of the Kansas City Star thought of the idea so I went to the comments section. Thankfully, comments were allowed. Some objected along the lines I just elaborated on above--too much big box retail, short life span, same old same old.

However, many majored on how nothing much could come of the area until crime was controlled. I have to admit, I was surprised. How bad did it get? I never felt that unsafe there following sensible rules. I may have missed the worst of it, because as the mall emptied, I found less and less reason to go to the mall. My going was more related to the mall just not having the things I wanted or needed in it any more, not fear or crime related. I think I stopped going there after dark, but I had never gone much after dark to the mall at all even at its retail height.

I would vote for light industry--perhaps calls centers and service centers also. The location is awesome for moving people in and out and is an easy commute from all parts of the metro. There is no need for this prime commercial property to stand empty. Mix in some midscale and upscale housing, both single and multfamily. Some park land too. Big box retail by itself isn't going to cut it.

And solve the crime problem--perceived and real. Somehow, the crime made a big impression on people--at least those who read the Kansas City Star. As long as many people think the area is not safe, it will not flourish, no matter what is proposed.

And I have no desire to finance a failure with tax breaks. No bad plans should get any help from the government--if it doesn't have a good chance to fly on its own, don't do it. As much as I hate to say it, just leave the land open until the right plan, opportunity and idea comes along.


Anonymous said...

Very good story and I agree if people think it's unsafe they will not go there.

Bob G. said...

Sounds like our SOUTHTOWN MALL site in Ft. Wayne.

It was unsafe for real and it's also the way people felt.
The mall left, and the city lost several years of development as a result. (beware of Michigan companies too eager to buy up the properties and then sit on them as a tax dodge).

The net "gain" was a WAL-MART and a MENARD'S (after SEVEN years).

And now we've got crime back there again...all within shouting distance from a nice, new Public Safety Academy (that is losing money, too...of all things).

Get rid of the CRIME FIRST...that's go to be JOB ONE when it comes to ANY redevelopment in questionable areas.

Excellent post.

Stay safe out there.

Anonymous said...

Two things I recall are:

The wooden watch towers in the parking lot that were put there after so much crime there. They did not go to all that trouble and pay all those guards to counter a PERCEPTION.

Another thing was a murder in the parking lot near Best Buy, just north of the Jones Store.

Socio-economically speaking, the area is worse now than when all that was going on in the 90s.

If you want my take: this is just a gimmick to help Councilman Sharp's re-election campaign. He became very tight with the developer of that site and bent over backward to "give away the store" to them and get nothing in return. ("Where's our soccer fields?" some say, pointing out that they were supposed to be put in regardless.)

Any (mal)investment in that area would be some kind of tax-write-off scheme and not a plan to create a sustainable economic asset.

Groucho K. Marx said...

I want to see these landowners of the Hole Formerly Known as Bannister Mall fined for keeping a horrible eyesore.

Ain't gonna happen tho- good work here T.O....

the observer said...

I want to make it clear that I didn't mean there wasn't crime at the mall. However, crime stories start to take on a life of their own tho in people's minds. Add in a dollop of latent prejudice against certain groups and before you know it, a problem has enlarged in size markedly.

Stories of crime and menance have cropped up around the still active large malls in the metro--Independence Center, Oak Park mall, even Zona Rosa and Town Center. How much is truth and how much is fear generated by our "if it bleeds, it leads" news media? Rumors of a lack of safety is death to a retail area!

I must say tho, if I was thinking of developing a retail area, I would skip the movie multiplex, or shove it way out to the edge, like Town Center has. With the tendency of parents to use the theaters as baby sitters for their ill raised offspring, a movie theater just strikes me as crime, intimidating behavior and disruption looking for a place to happen!