ANTIOCH CENTER
NE Antioch Road and NE Vivion Road / US 69
Kansas City, Missouri

Construction commenced on Missouri's first shopping mall in 1954. It was built by the Kansas City-based Elbel Construction Company on a 41.5 acre parcel, located 6 miles northeast of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The mall site was in a section annexed into Kansas City on January 1, 1950.

ANTIOCH CENTER was built in two stages. Antioch South, encompassing three store blocks, was anchored by a W.T. Grant variety store (the 600th in the chain). It, and a Kroger supermarket, opened for business August 1, 1956. 

Antioch North, consisting of four store blocks, was built in 1962. It was anchored by a 2-level (102,100 square foot) Macy's Kansas City, which welcomed its first shoppers on March 1, 1963. Now encompassing approximately 481,600 leasable square feet, ANTIOCH CENTER contained eighty stores and services.

The retail facility consisted of an open-air Main Level and a basement, which opened onto a lower level, east-side parking area. Charter mall tenants included Steve's Shoes, Forum Cafeteria, Harvey's Card & Party Shop and the Antioch Lanes bowling alley.

Commercial competition came quickly. BLUE RIDGE MALL {11 miles southeast, in Kansas City and Independence, Missouri} opened in 1958. It was joined by METRO NORTH MALL {4.3 miles northwest, also in Kansas City, Missouri} in 1977. Finally, there was MISSION CENTER, a 1986 rebuild of a 1950s strip center {12.4 miles southwest, in Mission, Kansas}.

ANTIOCH CENTER had been expanded in mid-1970s. A 1-level (101,000 square foot) Sears anchored a North Wing addition. The store held its grand opening in November 1973. The shopping hub now housed around 700,000 leasable square feet and contained ninety-four stores and services. It was fully-enclosed in 1977-1978.

Topeka, Kansas-based Show Biz Pizza Place opened their first location at ANTIOCH CENTER on March 3, 1980. The chain, which had moved its headquarters to Irving, Texas, merged with rival company Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre in 1984. All restaurants were put under the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza banner in 1992.

Anchor store rebrandings had got underway at ANTIOCH CENTER in 1986, when Macy's Kansas City was rebannered by Dillard's. This store was shuttered in early 1992. The structure was remodeled and re-opened, as a Burlington Coat Factory, in late 1992. The exterior of the mall was renovated in 1993.

Sears embarked on a major renovation of their ANTIOCH CENTER store in April 1997. A parking deck, comprising the first level, was closed-in and made into 49,000 additional square feet of retail area. The remodeled (150,000 square foot) store held its grand re-opening June 9, 1998.

By this time, ANTIOCH CENTER was entering a downward spiral. The complex, anchored by Sears and Burlington Coat Factory, had Levitz Furniture and a Payless Cashways home improvement store as junior anchors. A marketing shift to a "value-oriented shopping center" worked for a time. However, before long, vacancies began to pile up.

The struggling center was purchased by Toronto-based Eastbourne Investments in November 2002. A 72 million dollar redevelopment was announced in October 2004. This was to convert the moribund mall into a 470,000 square foot, office / retail / entertainment facility and be funded, in part, by millions of dollars in tax abatements.

However, the project faced delay after delay. The original demolition date of March 2009 came and went. The moribund mall continued to deteriorate, with The Great Recession blamed for the lack of progress toward its renewal. By mid-2010, there were three stores in operation out of a total of ninety-four spaces. These were Sears, Burlington Coat Factory and Catharine's apparel.

Eastbourne Investments turned the property over to M & I Bank and walked away from the project in July 2010. In September, KC-based MBS Management came on board. They would oversee redevelopment of the decaying retail hub.

A final redevelopment and Tax Increment Financing plan was approved in November 2011. By December, preliminary demolition was underway. Full-scale wrecking work commenced in January. Sears, Burlington Coat Factory and a block of stores in between were left standing. 200,000 square feet of mall space was knocked down.

On the periphery of the former shopping complex, Sears Auto Center, Bank of America, Walgreen Drug and Goodyear Tire & Auto had also been left standing. These were worked into an open-air strip complex known as ANTIOCH CROSSING.

Ground breaking for new retail space took place in the summer of 2013, with the first new tenant, a (41,100 square foot) WalMart Neighborhood Market, holding its grand opening November 5, 2014.

Sources:

"Antioch Center" article on Wikipedia
http://www.antiochcentermall.com (defunct)
"Chuck E. Cheese's" article on Wikipedia
http://sungazette.com
http://www.kansascity.bizjournals.com
http://antiochcrossing.com