METCALF SOUTH CENTER
Metcalf Avenue / US 169 and West 95th Street
Overland Park, Kansas

The city of Overland Park was incorporated out of area in Johnson County, Kansas on May 20, 1960. In 1966, construction commenced on Greater Kansas City, Kansas' first fully-enclosed shopping center. It was to occupy a 50 acre parcel, located 7.3 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

METCALF SOUTH CENTER was developed by local entrepreneurs Frank Morgan and Sherman Dreiseszun, under the auspices of MD Management. The shopping hub was designed by Boyle & Wilson Architects, Uri Seiden & Associates and John C. Fasnacht & Associates.

The official dedication of METCALF SOUTH CENTER was held August 3, 1967 and was attended by Duard Enoch (Mayor of Overland Park), Donald Pipes (City Manager of Overland Park) and Debbie Bryant, "Miss America 1966". A 2-level (183,000 square foot), Kansas City, Missouri-based Jones Store participated in the grand opening festivities.

Charter stores and services included Putsch's Cafeteria, Baker's Shoes, Singer Sewing Center, Katz Drug, Hartzfeld's, The Swiss Colony, an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10, Safeway Supermarket and Commonwealth Theatres Metcalf South Theatre (originally a single-screen venue).

A 2-level (196,500 square foot) Sears opened for business in October 1967. With its completion, the shopping hub encompassed approximately 601,800 leasable square feet and sixty tenant spaces.

In the early days, the commercial competitors of METCALF SOUTH CENTER were WARD PARKWAY CENTER (1962) {3.1 miles northeast, in Kansas City, Missouri}, OAK PARK MALL (1975) {2.6 miles west, also in Overland Park} and, to a lesser extent, MISSION CENTER (1956 and 1986) {4.7 miles northeast, in Mission, Kansas}.

METCALF SOUTH CENTER was expanded with a new third level concourse. This addition comprised approximately 103,500 leasable square feet and housed nineteen tenants. Dedicated October 17, 1975, it added stores such as Spencer Gifts, B. Dalton Bookseller, Casual Corner, The Limited and Smaks Hamburgers to the retail roster.

A subsequent addition expanded the existing Jones Store by 38,000 square feet, for a total area of 221,000. A lower level parking deck was included in the renovation project. In the late 1970s, the Metcalf Theatre was reconfigured as the Metcalf I & II. With these modifications, METCALF SOUTH CENTER enveloped approximately 744,000 leasable square feet.

Katz Drug, which had been rebranded as a Skaggs Drug in 1971, came under the Osco Drug trademark in early 1985. After Harzfeld's was shuttered in 1984, its space became a Jones Store Furniture outlet.

Between 1989 and 1990, the shopping complex was given an interior facelift. This included the installation of chrome and mirrored ceilings and marquee lighting fixtures. A vacant Woolworth was sectioned into 2 levels of inline stores, including a Food Court. Moreover, the Safeway space was refitted as Carousel Park, a mini amusement area with a video arcade, carousel and roller coaster.

Unfortunately, the newly-renovated METCALF SOUTH CENTER was soon to face two formidable competitors. TOWN CENTER PLAZA, a lifestyle-type venue {2.7 miles southeast, in Leawood}, was dedicated in 1996. THE GREAT MALL OF THE GREAT PLAINS {10.4 miles southwest, in Olathe} opened its doors in 1997.

METCALF SOUTH CENTER was caught in a downward spiral and declined into a virtually vacant property. In late 2006, MD Management entered into a joint venture with Greenwood, Colorado-based Alberta Development Partners.

They devised a redevelopment plan for THE STREETS AT METCALF, a mixed-use facility encompassing over 1 million square feet. The lifestyle-format complex was to incorporate the existing Sears and Jones Store, which had been "Macy-ated" September 9, 2006. The remainder of the enclosed mall was to be demolished.

The Great Recession caused the project to be derailed. Alberta Development Partners pulled out of the deal in April 2008. Problems were exacerbated by the shuttering of Macy's, in March 2014. The complex had been sold in the previous month; the buyer being a joint venture of Kansas City, Missouri's Lane4 Properties Group and Columbia, Missouri's Kroenke Group.

A previous covenant with Sears, requiring that their store always be part of an operating mall, was rescinded in the summer of 2014. Soon after, what few tenants that remained in business in the mall were given eviction notices. The final day of operation at METCALF SOUTH CENTER was September 19, 2014.

Sears remained in business along with the Glenwood Arts Theatre (a circa-2002 reinvention of the Metcalf I & II). The cinema was permanently shuttered in January 2015, just as a second a redevelopment plan was being announced.

The 320 million dollar project would replace the mall with an open-air complex. Done in "noeclassic Mediterranean style", CENTRAL SQUARE was to include retail, restaurant and residential components. By August 2015, this plan had been scrapped, due to disagreements between the developers and Overland Park city planners.
  
A third redevelopment scenario will have the beleaguered mall demolished, leaving Sears standing. A 1-level (165,000 square foot) Lowe's home improvement center is proposed, which would be built on a 30 acre section of the mall site. This store would be part of an open-air power center of fourteen stores and services.

Approval for said redevelopment plan was granted by the local governing body in December 2016. Demolition of the METCALF SOUTH mall was plotted to get underway in early 2017, with the new 80 million dollar shopping plaza possibly opening in the spring of 2018.

Sources:

http:johnsoncountyhistory.org
www.labelcar.com / Article posted by "Prange Way"
www.mdmgt.com
Johnson County, Kansas property tax assessor website
"Overland Park, Kansas" article on Wikipedia
movie-theatre.org / Mike Rivest
www.cinematour.com
Post by "Go Nordrike!"
www.kansascity.com
www.bizjournals.com / Rob Roberts