Poll: Does the Plaza need a drastic change, some change or on the right path?

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.

Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Keep it as is - almost entirely as a shopping/restaurant mall district.
11
19%
Mix things up just a little more such as adding neighborhood amenities, broader nightlife, lighter eats.
27
47%
Needs more drastic change with less mall focus, pedestrian only street.
14
24%
Don't care.
5
9%
Other
1
2%
 
Total votes: 58

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Poll: Does the Plaza need a drastic change, some change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:36 pm

A tangent from general Plaza thread, I plan to send this thread to the new Plaza owners (Taubman Centers and Macerich Co - T&M). If you agree with a need for change, post ideas below keeping in mind the new owners may read this. If you prefer The Plaza almost entirely a shopping/restaurant district or if just desiring a few changes, state your case as well.

A case for the Plaza needing a shakeup: It's basically limping along as a mall and could use a much broader range of function if not a reversal in direction. The new owners can start by understanding that there is a neighborhood surrounding The Plaza (Highwoods wouldn't recognize this). Some ideas...

Drastic Change Ideas - Target A Euro Village with Shopping/Eats
- Target as partly a Euro style residential/cultural village as a new strategy/vision with regional draw as a secondary target (visitors will still check out a unique residential village). Maintain enough retail/restaurants targeting regional draw (cut 100 retail spots to say 75)

- Turn Nichols Rd into a pedestrian/bike only street with greenspace, benches, restaurant seating, etc. Perhaps one block can change function over the years to keep interest fresh. Poster smh suggests a trial using traffic cones and street vendors - Plaza restaurants already have stands they use for Plaza Art Fair. See pics below for examples.

- Convert most of upper retail building spaces into residential keeping some offices that serve the neighborhood (dentists, eye doctors, vet/pet grooming, etc). This will help transition the area to a village vibe.

Less Drastic Ideas
- Target up to a dozen spaces for cultural things like jazz/blues/folk clubs, various performance theatre space, comedy club, etc. The Plaza has always been too light with nightlife outside bars/restaurants.

- A market, butcher shop and pharmacy/drugstore is needed for supporting surrounding neighborhood (even if Walgreens or CVS), hotel visitors and if heading down path of a village vision.

- Cut retail spaces from about 100 to about 85, target some of the 40+ restaurant spots as smaller Euro/ethnic counter eats/cafes that are turned down a notch and more neighborhoody (think Bella Nepoli in Brookside), a real street pizza counter as well as haute to mainstream sit down restaurants but transition the Plaza to be unique and avoid homogenized chain restaurants like Cheasecake Factory and Changs.

Changing Nichols Rd to pedestrian only
Imagine something like this with more fountains...
Image

Image

There is a CVS with tasteful signage in background...
Image

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Would you rather live/visit this or the mall it has become. It also sets the stage to balance general retail towards downtown too. The challenge to draw local business is the high rent. The new owners paid over $600M for The Plaza and it may be difficult to rent out spaces as say performance theatre space.
Last edited by earthling on Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:21 am, edited 9 times in total.

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Re: A vision for turning The Plaza mostly into a Euro residential village

Postby flyingember » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:30 pm

I doubt it's limping along. How many 75+ year old shopping centers are still around elsewhere in the city? They just renovated an entire building. The Plaza is the urban core's Nordstrom. That's why it does so well, because they are bringing in higher end vendors that bring in premium shoppers. Even the cheese shop is priced higher than many in the middle class to be anything but a treat.

You don't think the local religious schools fundraise there because it's a waste of time?

I wouldn't touch the plaza and would ring the area with your neighborhood amenities. A CVS is needed, but it should be around 43rd/Main.
The plaza doesn't need night life, keep that in Westport 5 minutes away.

About the only thing on this list the plaza drastically needs is more food options that aren't sit down. A fancier food court would do quite well.
Some office conversions into more day to day could work well, but I'm not sure I would force that in.

What we need is to take the walkable plaza and expand on it. Add ground floor retail to more spaces outside it. We could get a lot more total value to ignore the plaza and build on the plaza instead of trying to overhaul it. The huge need KC has is to growing and connect our walkable districts.

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Re: A vision for turning The Plaza mostly into a Euro residential village

Postby earthling » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:19 pm

^Am expecting many will prefer it primarily as a shopping mall, most people don't like too much change or may want to keep Nichol's original vision. A drastic change could give it new life while still having many of the original Plaza elements - still plenty of retail. And it gives room for downtown to draw retail. Would think those who have lived in highly functional urbanity will give some neighborhood leaning suggestions and suburban people will give suburban like suggestions, such as placing neighborhood amenities outside the area or not understanding why they are needed. Hotel visitors also want drugstore/market to walk to.

Would be interesting to hear from those who actually live within walking distance of Plaza.

I've updated with a poll. Scroll to top. I'll be sending this to the new Plaza owners.

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Re: A vision for turning The Plaza mostly into a Euro residential village

Postby chingon » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:51 am

The idea of making Nichols pedestrian is really great. Probably as close to having a plaza on the Plaza as is possible, and it handles very, very little auto traffic even when the Plaza is bustling. Probably hurts the bottom line in the short term though.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:32 am

It might hurt during 'construction' to change Nichols Rd but pedestrian only streets are common in rest of world and gives a more quaint experience than dealing with cars. Converting this stretch is a perfect opportunity to give the Plaza a needed boost. It's maybe the only significant physical change to Plaza needed.

Just checked the listing and there are about 100 retail stores and 40+ restaurants/eats. There are about 150 ground level commercial spaces so that means it's almost entirely a mall, with essentially zero neighborhood amenities for last 15+ years. Nichols used to also cater to the residents before Highwoods took it over. Cutting down to 75 retail would still be quite a bit, would allow for mixing up (clubs, neighborhood amenities, performance spaces) and downtown could really use more traditional retail.

Thoughts on changing upper floors of buildings to mostly residential instead of office spaces?

Other ideas for changing things up, whether significant or minor?

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby flyingember » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:56 am

At the very least, a road diet to make it a travel through street only. Wider sidewalks, bike lanes instead of parking and 20 foot lanes would be a quality tradeoff to a complete changeover.

It's not like there's a lack of parking at the plaza....

I don't see value of residential ON the plaza. Put this in taller structures ringing it like we have today. the idea of letting the space be available for services like dentists and insurance agents makes way more sense. there's nothing wrong with someone having to walk from their home to shop, eat or daily needs.

The new grocery + apartment building at UMKC and around 50th/Main is a good model of this.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby bobbyhawks » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:35 pm

My "other" is similar to other recommendations; to keep it as a restaurant and retail center, but to eliminate the streets in a large portion of the Plaza in favor of bricked-in actual plaza. I think the big name national brand retail stores like Nike and Apple are exactly what the plaza needs, and IMO the local focus should mostly be in the restaurant department. I'd like to see the area between Brookside Blvd and Broadway, from Ward Parkway to 47th made into a true walkable plaza. I also like the idea of just doing JC Nichols, but think there are a lot of side streets that aren't really necessary if you do that. I'd also like to see right turns onto 47th from Main disallowed (or 47th removed between Main and Broadway), forcing Southbound people to turn right directly onto Ward Parkway, which is where 90 percent of the cars are headed anyhow. The hospital really makes things difficult, though.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby NorthOak » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:41 pm

What is this constant obsession with turning streets into pedestrian only?
Turning 47th into a pedestrian only street is ridiculous.
It's a fine street, just fix what's wrong. Slow traffic down.
Start giving out tickets, better signage, there's a multitude of things that can still be done.
Closing it to cars is "townish."

Retail is always going to be volatile going forward because of the Internet.
The worst thing to happen to the Plaza over the last few decades is the loss of it's classic restaurants that built their rep and patronage on consistent quality, affordability and great service (Fedora, Houstons, etc). A significant percentage of patrons come to the Plaza to dine first, then shop as an afterthought. I think this is something the Plaza needs to focus on more rather than mixing in cheap retail.
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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:49 pm

Good point on fickle retail, is even more of a case to add more residential vibe within Plaza.

Just curious, have you experienced pedestrian streets in Europe or 16th St in Denver or Nicollet in Minneapolis? Am a fan of them and Plaza's Nichols Rd is a good candidate. And yes, they can give a village vibe depending on how executed.

Anyone live within walking distance to Plaza? What do you want it to be? I live between Westport/Plaza BTW so favor at least a few neighborhood amenities. Can understand some of you in the burbs just want it as a mall. There are nearly 100 retail spots, can still get your mall fix if cut back to 75.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby flyingember » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:25 pm

I've been on the Nicollet Mall.

The only reason it's busy on a weekend is NOTHING else is open near it. Basically every skyway shop is closed on Saturday and most shops are on the skyways

It's actually the model I thought of when saying to turn the street into through traffic only.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:18 pm

Votes are rolling in, scroll up to vote now (can also change vote). Will send thread link to new Plaza owners in a couple weeks or so.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby mean » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:55 pm

I'm kind of torn. One the one hand, I think the plaza is probably fine as the region's premier destination mall; on the other hand I wouldn't want to live there (or pretty much anywhere within 500ish miles) and, say, try to operate car-free. It seems like many if not most of the suggestions being offered aim to convert the plaza into the type of place where you could more easily do that, and while I appreciate the idea I just don't know how feasible it is. I wouldn't think there are an awful lot of jobs on the plaza that could easily support the rent needed to actually live there, so you'd have to either create a enough of those jobs to ensure there is a sufficiently large pool of people wanting to both live and work there, or just accept that most of the people who live there will still be commuting by car to elsewhere, which seems to kind of defeat the purpose of making all the changes in the first place.

And the thought of a CVS on the plaza just makes me cringe. I mean, yeah, needed to fulfill the village vision for sure, but talk about turning the plaza's exclusive brand on its head. Not that Highwoods didn't seem to be doing just about everything in their power to do the same thing sometimes, but CVS and Walgreens are near the bottom of the barrel of retail tenants. If you wanted to scrape any lower you'd have to hit up like Dollar Tree or something.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby DaveKCMO » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:59 pm

BIKE PARKING

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:14 pm

mean wrote:And the thought of a CVS on the plaza just makes me cringe. I mean, yeah, needed to fulfill the village vision for sure, but talk about turning the plaza's exclusive brand on its head. Not that Highwoods didn't seem to be doing just about everything in their power to do the same thing sometimes, but CVS and Walgreens are near the bottom of the barrel of retail tenants. If you wanted to scrape any lower you'd have to hit up like Dollar Tree or something.


Have you been to urban sized CVSs on the E Coast? They are much smaller with taller shelves, most every heavy pedestrian area has one and considered a basic staple. Duane Reade is big in every NYC area including high end shopping districts, Chicago has several Walgreens along Michigan Ave. The Plaza needs a drugstore, it used to have one. Hotel visitors want it, residents want it, other visitors can get a cheap bottle of water, Tylenol or a bandaid. It's frustrating to many the Plaza doesn't have one but it's also not surprising most in KC don't 'get it'.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:21 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:BIKE PARKING


Dave, what are our thoughts on residential above retail spaces instead of mostly offices?

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby mean » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:38 pm

Thanks, I needed to be condescended to online today.

Anyway, it's not the size that matters (and yes, I've been to at least one CVS in Manhattan that I can remember--emergency wrist brace ftw--but I only remember that because of the circumstances, I don't mentally catalog every retail store I visit when out of town) it's that CVS is tacky. If you can't get a locally owned boutiqueish drugstore to work on the plaza, then it ain't gonna work anywhere. Maybe then we'll talk about CVS. Even then it'll still feel like Baron BMW selling Camrys--icky, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby earthling » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:46 pm

Sorry not intending to be condescending, as I said many others have also been annoyed with no neighborhood amenities on Plaza and have pointed out that there are others in KC who don't understand why the Plaza should have it.

Just checked, there are 3 Walgreens along Michigan Ave in Chicago. Tacky?

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby beautyfromashes » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:13 pm

I love the Plaza. It's a staple from my childhood. But, to be honest, it feels so old right now. It's not where the young people want to go and grab a drink or even walk around shopping. Sure, it's busy at times, but I have a feeling that it's just people driving in for one store and driving out. I want the Plaza to be like when I was a kid and people would spend the whole night there. Can't think of a nice restaurant that would beat anything in the Crossroads or DT. Malls aren't cool.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby mean » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:26 pm

earthling wrote:Just checked, there are 3 Walgreens along Michigan Ave in Chicago. Tacky?


It's still bottom of the barrel retail, but you're talking about a completely different vibe. If the architecture and density of the plaza looked like the architecture and density along Michigan Avenue and its surroundings then I'd say go for it. Not sure why I'm getting resistance to the idea of a locally owned drugstore.

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Re: Does the Plaza need a drastic change or on the right path?

Postby WoodDraw » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:35 pm

What's a locally owned drugstore that can afford plaza rents?


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