WHITE LAKES MALL
Southwest Topeka Boulevard / US 75 and Southwest 37th Street
Topeka, Kansas

Topeka's first mall was built on a land parcel located 3.1 miles south of the Kansas State House. The 36.4 acre site had been occupied by a 9-hole golf course, which was part of the White Lakes Country Club.

Construction commenced on a 500,000 square foot, fully-enclosed shopping venue in the early 1960s. Developed by Topeka's Keith Meyers, WHITE LAKES MALL was officially dedicated October 15, 1964.

The 8 million dollar shopping hub had two anchors. On the north was a 2-level (151,000 square foot) Sears, with an attached Auto Center. The mall's 2-level J.C. Penney encompassed 154,400 square feet. It included a freestanding (10,000 square foot) Auto Center and was one of the first full-line "Penneys" stores.

Charter WHITE LAKES tenants included Walgreen Drug, Hat Box, Falley's Market, Command Performance Beauty Salon, Town & Country Restaurant, Toy & Hobby Mart and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

The National General Corporation Fox White Lakes Theatre was dedicated June 14, 1967. This freestanding venue was located across the street from the mall's north parking area. Its auditorium was split into, with a twin cinema opening December 22, 1977. Two additional auditoria were added, with a 4-plex showing its first features August 18, 1984. The complex was shuttered March 16, 2004.

Meanwhile, WHITE LAKES MALL had been acquired by Southern California's MaceRich Real Estate Company in September 1972. Primarily involved in developing smaller, community-type, strip centers, MaceRich had now advanced to regional shopping mall management.

Under their ownership, the center prospered...that is, until something new, bigger and better came along. WEST RIDGE MALL {4.6 miles northwest, in Topeka} was completed in 1988. Upon its grand opening, it snatched the two anchor stores from WHITE LAKES MALL.

Sears at WHITE LAKES sat vacant until being leased to Kansas City, Missouri-based Sutherlands Lumber. This location opened in 1992 and closed in 2002.

The mall had changed hands in 1993. Macerich sold the property to Lawrence, Kansas-based Main Street Investors, who sold it to Denver-based Triple Net Properties in March 2000. WHITE LAKES CENTER, as it was now known, had morphed into an office complex, with a smattering of retail stores and services.

Tenants included Walgreen Drug (a circa-'64 store), Electronic Data Systems, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Kansas Children's Services League, the State of Kansas, a day care center, fitness center, beauty salon and several eateries. Mainline Printing leased the old Sears building in 2005.

By late 2007, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, the State of Kansas, Kansas Disability Determination Services and the State of Kansas Rehabilitation Service had moved out. The complex was sold to Topeka's Kent Lindermuth in September 2009. He proposed a redevelopment of the property, whose official name had been truncated to WHITE LAKES.

This project was to include demolition of the southern mallway section. Exterior-entranced retail and office space would be situated along a new parking area at the center of the center. Unfortunately, these plans were abandoned when Mr. Lindemuth filed for bankruptcy in November 2012.

The property sits partially vacant and deteriorating to this day. It is currently on the open market with an asking price of 2.5 million dollars.

Sources:

Malls Of America Blogspot / Keith Milford, webmaster
Comment post by "Dee4life"
Topeka Capital-Journal / August 5, 2001 / "White Lakes Survives In Shopping Mall Afterlife" / Alicia Henrikson
Topeka Capital-Journal / February 22, 2003 / "White Lakes Mall Reinvents Itself" / Shayne Sawyer & Mike Shepherd
Shawnee County, Kansas tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
http://cjonline.com (Topeka Capital Journal)