Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Discuss items in the urban core outside of Downtown as described above. Everything in the core including the east side (18th & Vine area), Plaza, Westport, Brookside, Valentine, Waldo, 39th street, & the entire midtown area.
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rxlexi
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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by rxlexi » Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:52 am

I think reports of the plaza's demise on this site are greatly exaggerated. Not that the recent tenant changes don't concern me.

There is brunch (Eden Alley my fave - Saturday only), there is nightlife (O'Dowd's, Granfalloon, Parkway, etc.), there is a ton of residential within a few blocks of the central plaza bowl. There is a great regional tennis center (I play), an attractive urban park, a very nice library and additional restaurants (and now Whole Foods) to the immediate south.

I lived just off-plaza (46/Main) for 8 years and it was a great, though unique, urban neighborhood, despite plenty of room for improvement. Plenty of friends still there at Kirkwood, Sulgrave, 46 Penn. And we're 24-35 age range.

THAT SAID.

I agree wholeheartedly with just about every suggestion for improvement: Road diets, more pedestrian space (closing Nichols or WP), larger (non-dead) street trees, a central public park behind Classic Cup block (so obvious), better connections to the east and west (Nelson and West Plaza), improved/higher end retail options, more nightlife/live music/cultural options, a central grocer/pharmacy.

And at least some high-end residential immediately above the retail - making the Plaza a true, and truly desirable urban neighborhood rather than solely a regional retail/office center surrounded by such neighborhoods.

Less the residential (taking away longer term office leases, dealing with tenants/HOAs), some of this stuff is so obvious and would make such a dramatic improvement to the appeal and livability of the area that I can't believe it hasn't been attempted.

Hoping some of this comes to fruition, but none of the recent projects in the area (other than the massive Whole Foods) seem like game changers so far.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by smh » Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:45 pm

rxlexi wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:52 am
I think reports of the plaza's demise on this site are greatly exaggerated. Not that the recent tenant changes don't concern me.

There is brunch (Eden Alley my fave - Saturday only), there is nightlife (O'Dowd's, Granfalloon, Parkway, etc.), there is a ton of residential within a few blocks of the central plaza bowl. There is a great regional tennis center (I play), an attractive urban park, a very nice library and additional restaurants (and now Whole Foods) to the immediate south.

I lived just off-plaza (46/Main) for 8 years and it was a great, though unique, urban neighborhood, despite plenty of room for improvement. Plenty of friends still there at Kirkwood, Sulgrave, 46 Penn. And we're 24-35 age range.

THAT SAID.

I agree wholeheartedly with just about every suggestion for improvement: Road diets, more pedestrian space (closing Nichols or WP), larger (non-dead) street trees, a central public park behind Classic Cup block (so obvious), better connections to the east and west (Nelson and West Plaza), improved/higher end retail options, more nightlife/live music/cultural options, a central grocer/pharmacy.

And at least some high-end residential immediately above the retail - making the Plaza a true, and truly desirable urban neighborhood rather than solely a regional retail/office center surrounded by such neighborhoods.

Less the residential (taking away longer term office leases, dealing with tenants/HOAs), some of this stuff is so obvious and would make such a dramatic improvement to the appeal and livability of the area that I can't believe it hasn't been attempted.

Hoping some of this comes to fruition, but none of the recent projects in the area (other than the massive Whole Foods) seem like game changers so far.
All of this yes.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by KCPowercat » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:58 pm

I say let's get rid of all these coffee shops, fast food, sports bars, office supply stores, family restaurants...only retailers that sell things to 1% of the population...that's how the plaza will survive.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by missingkc » Tue Jul 31, 2018 8:46 pm

What amazes me is that there are so many people on this forum that have a better handle on current retail trends than Taubman and Macerich. Who would have guessed? I know. This makes me a first class prick.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by rxlexi » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:42 am

What amazes me is that there are so many people on this forum that have a better handle on current retail trends than Taubman and Macerich. Who would have guessed? I know. This makes me a first class prick.
I think the sentiment of some posters here, and I would count myself among them, is that for the plaza to live up to it's potential it needs to be managed less like a typical shopping mall, and more like a traditional urban center with a variety of ownership. It's such a different beast than the majority of holdings in these retail REITs.

It's difficult to envision conversion to residential, public/private infrastructure improvement like new city park space or redesigned roads, or cultural additions (museums, large music venue, live theater, etc.) with singular retail ownership like Taubman and Macerich, despite their ostensible expertise in tenant management.

Still, even if managed 100% as a regional shopping center, the city should be able to better take point on some of the connectivity issues with the surrounding neighborhoods, and some fresh tenant "gets" could really increase the desirability of the area. Not sure why things still seem to be a bit stagnant.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by MidtownCat » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:43 am

KCPowercat wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:58 pm
I say let's get rid of all these coffee shops, fast food, sports bars, office supply stores, family restaurants...only retailers that sell things to 1% of the population...that's how the plaza will survive.
Hahaha.

The problem is not that we have local retail and neighborhood amenities on the Plaza. Literally nobody on here is saying that we don't need any of those things. The problem is that virtually all of the premier retail and luxury brands that made the Plaza the most distinctive shopping destinations in our city and a regional attraction have shuttered up or jumped ship for another metro location.

So in the past decade we have lost:

Halls
Saks 5th Avenue
Mark Shale
Burberry
Cole Haan
Lacoste
Ralph Lauren
Brooks Brothers
Williams and Sonoma
Restoration Hardware
St John

These are the top 10 off the top of my head. There have obviously been many more. A handful of premier tenants is understandable. The ongoing, constant, and repeating pattern is what is highly disconcerting.

As a longtime Plaza dweller and supporter of the JC Nichols Country Club district, what made the Plaza special and different from nearby Brookside and the Prairie Village Shops WAS the high end dining and retail. Can it survive without premium retail? In some reduced form, yes. It just will never again have the reputation and cache as one of the premier destinational attractions in our city. And no matter how dismissive some want to be about to, it is sad to see a once great district and landmark in Kansas City die a slow death.
Last edited by MidtownCat on Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:29 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by rxlexi » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:57 am

Agreed with midtowncat that the tenant change has been a net loss over recent years.

Need to bring in some modern (Zara/Uniqlo) and higher-end (lux brands, mid-tier stuff a la Cole-Haan etc.) retail tenants to re-establish itself as the premier shopping destination (or one of them) in the metro.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by KCPowercat » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:26 pm

Lol at anyone being dismissive on here about this topic when the mention of a neighborhood drug store as a resident amenity being a good thing was turned into "yeah right a drugstore is the sole savior of the plaza, lol at you guys"

Nobody ever disagreed that it needs to keep getting unique top line retailers.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by WoodDraw » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:58 pm

I mean it is kind of funny how much a drugstore is talked about. Nothing wrong with gently mocking people, as you do all the time.

The plaza is just weird. Single owner, height restrictions, historical significance, and so on. It's not the way I would ever run a neighborhood, but I don't live there.

The plaza is just so car centric, I find it funny people think adding amenities like 4 blocks away will fix everything. It would take a complete rethinking of what the plaza actually is.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by rxlexi » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:45 pm

I mean I actually miss Bruce Smith Drugs on the corner of 47th/Broadway (what little I remember of it). It was a nice neighborhood amenity, and right-sized for the district. :D
The plaza is just so car centric, I find it funny people think adding amenities like 4 blocks away will fix everything. It would take a complete rethinking of what the plaza actually is.
Kind of. The east and west edges are bordered by large, hostile roads/intersections, but those connections are fixable. The north and south edges are quite pedestrian friendly and of course the central bowl, despite overly wide streets and garage cut-outs, is a very nice place to walk (IMO).

I think the plaza was well ahead of it's time in comfortably supporting both an auto-friendly and pedestrian friendly environment, with free, easy to find parking funded through a sales tax mechanism. Tons of free garage space, "most" of it well hidden or reasonably functional from a pedestrian perspective. Still fairly rare to find in a dense urban area (certainly the free part).

When I lived a few blocks away I easily walked everywhere from the Nelson and Kemper to the library/Chipotle, to the west-side plaza bars. The area is much more functional as a larger neighborhood than people give it credit for.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by KCPowercat » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:52 pm

WoodDraw wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:58 pm
I mean it is kind of funny how much a drugstore is talked about. Nothing wrong with gently mocking people, as you do all the time.

The plaza is just weird. Single owner, height restrictions, historical significance, and so on. It's not the way I would ever run a neighborhood, but I don't live there.

The plaza is just so car centric, I find it funny people think adding amenities like 4 blocks away will fix everything. It would take a complete rethinking of what the plaza actually is.
That's fine... And one post doing the same about how horrible it is to lose Burberry isn't being dismissive.

Nobody said any one idea will fix everything... Where is that concept coming from?

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by KCPowercat » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:56 pm

I loved living on the plaza but I've never thought about moving back after living downtown... It's not as friendly to the surrounding residents....so the idea of catering to them a little more (who are there 365 days a year) vs just the tourist that will windowshop and ohh/ahh that they see a Burberry is a valid idea to me.

There is obviously room for both.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by kas1 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:01 pm

rxlexi wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:42 am
I think the sentiment of some posters here, and I would count myself among them, is that for the plaza to live up to it's potential it needs to be managed less like a typical shopping mall, and more like a traditional urban center with a variety of ownership. It's such a different beast than the majority of holdings in these retail REITs.
The city can't really do anything to change the ownership situation or the owner's choice of tenants. A more practical solution would be for the city to encourage/require ground-floor retail in new developments around the periphery, particularly on 46th St. These locations would have less visibility and would get less foot traffic from visitors, which would organically lead them to more neighborhood-oriented tenants. The arrival of the streetcar is the perfect opportunity for the city to rezone (or create an overlay for) everything between the Plaza and Westport to encourage mixed-use development. For example, allow up to 5% of the space in a residential development to be used for retail with no off-street parking requirements.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by beautyfromashes » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:24 pm

KCPowercat wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:56 pm
I loved living on the plaza but I've never thought about moving back after living downtown... It's not as friendly to the surrounding residents....so the idea of catering to them a little more (who are there 365 days a year) vs just the tourist that will windowshop and ohh/ahh that they see a Burberry is a valid idea to me.

There is obviously room for both.
This is a point that isn’t really talked about much. We were concerned about Westport when the P&L Distuct was built. But, I think we will see a direct competition between the Plaza and DT/Crossroads. I think it already has affected the Plaza. You’re seeing more local restaurants DT that used to would have been on the Plaza. Same with bars and entertainment. Retail will be next. It will be interesting if the streetcar reverses some of this. Will people start going to eat on the Plaza and then riding for First Friday’s? Will the reverse happen for the art fair? Would make a great transportation case study.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by smh » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:41 pm

beautyfromashes wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:24 pm
KCPowercat wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:56 pm
I loved living on the plaza but I've never thought about moving back after living downtown... It's not as friendly to the surrounding residents....so the idea of catering to them a little more (who are there 365 days a year) vs just the tourist that will windowshop and ohh/ahh that they see a Burberry is a valid idea to me.

There is obviously room for both.
This is a point that isn’t really talked about much. We were concerned about Westport when the P&L Distuct was built. But, I think we will see a direct competition between the Plaza and DT/Crossroads. I think it already has affected the Plaza. You’re seeing more local restaurants DT that used to would have been on the Plaza. Same with bars and entertainment. Retail will be next. It will be interesting if the streetcar reverses some of this. Will people start going to eat on the Plaza and then riding for First Friday’s? Will the reverse happen for the art fair? Would make a great transportation case study.
I vote for the rise of Main Street as the middle retail ground.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by FangKC » Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:33 am

No one knows what the retail landscape will be in 20 years. Because of online retail and delivery services, a lot of physical retail stores will probably disappear. The ones that remain will likely be service-oriented. The mix of shops might be very different, and people will have to accept any retail for the physical Plaza to survive.

Perhaps places like the Plaza will survive by attracting retail from other neighborhoods, and then those retail buildings will be replaced with apartment buildings.

There may come a day that even preservationists will have to accept new residential buildings in "the bowl." As the garages age, and if they deteriorate, they might be replaced with apartment buildings on top of them. Interior parking courts may have office or residential buildings constructed in them. The trade-off might be to preserve the Spanish-style facades and building within the original walls. The added residents in these buildings might be needed to provide new uses for the retail spaces, and activity in the neighborhood.

I predict more of the bungalow houses north and northwest of the Plaza will be demolished and replaced with denser development. Denser development nearby only helps the Plaza.

The Plaza streets might be busy now, but what happens after the movie theater closes, and many of the retail stores start closing?

The Plaza's maintenance is expensive, and the high rents are what pays for it. Will management be able to demand high rents in the future for retail spaces when there aren't as many retailers demanding space? There are just so many unknowns.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by flyingember » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:54 am

One thing that I expect to be done long term is to stop having only individual storefronts

Look at the city market, it's setup with a variety of spaces and it's doing great. There's offices, residents, full sized restaurants, dedicated retail, small store fronts in a shared space, kiosks, drive up and sell out of a truck, popup tent spaces all mixed together.

Imagine if Barnes and Noble closes. I can picture turning that space into more like an antique mall setup where you lease part of the space inside the building in an open concept or with temporary walls but a step up in quality. The idea is one retailer transitions to many on shorter term leases that are cheaper than leasing a whole space yourself but more per square foot than they get today.

There also will be more interest in small storefronts that don't keep stock there like the car dealer that moved into the legends.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by Midtownkid » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:57 am

I really wish Nichols company got the pre-WWII plaza buildings on the National Register of Historic Places before they sold it back in 1998. We need to get those original buildings on the register NOW! I would really hate to see the plaza destroyed in some attempt to 'save it'. It doesn't really need saving physically. It just needs a better tenant mix (and possibly better management?)

The new owners have stripped Nichols Co signage off of their original offices.(wedding chapel next to Seasons 52) There was a terra cotta sign incorporated to the second story facade. They took the tile off and now you see the CMU block wall exposed underneath. NOT an improvement. They also took off the really cool metal grill work that used to surround the front door. Why would they ever do that. More original details seem to disappear every time I look.

I would like to see the plaza as a center for local boutiques. I am glad to see a few new local tenants. We need more!

The thing is, The Plaza is/was so great because the developer had a clear vision. He really cared about the area and how his development looks and functioned. He also had a ton of pride for his developments and for KC. Racism aside, he really was a great developer with a great vision for the city.

The plaza needs local ownership with the same amount of pride and vision.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by horizons82 » Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:35 pm

Midtownkid wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:57 am
The thing is, The Plaza is/was so great because the developer had a clear vision. He really cared about well-to-do white people and how his development looks and functioned. He also had a ton of pride for his developments and for KC.
FTFY
Midtownkid wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:57 am
Racism aside, he really was a great developer with a great vision for the city.
You can't pick and choose attributes of someone's history. His actions (along with plenty of others) are why east of troost struggles still today, why KC has a more segregated city than some in the south, etc. He fucked up KC as much as help "helped" it, with some neoclassical retail buildings.

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Re: Plaza move-ins (ongoing)

Post by WoodDraw » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:22 pm

I'd like the plaza to embrace more of it's name. I'd love to take the streetcar there and have lunch and walk around and eat outside. They should turn the middle into a pedestrian park and have outdoor seating and pop up carts selling stuff.

Don't get me wrong here, but they could even look to Spain for inspiration.

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