Interests Redevelops Ward Parkway Center
Ward Parkway Center,
located in Kansas City, Missouri, has been undergoing a transformation
in its old age. When Dallas-based Todd Interests, a real estate investment
and development firm, acquired the 40-year-old, 880,000-square-foot center
in 1999, it was a neglected and nearly dormant high-end mall. Since then,
the company has ripped the roof off 80,000 square feet, shifted the tenant
focus from high-end to value-oriented retail and taken some cues from
the centers early community-focused days.
Our goal is
to create a hybrid lifestyle center that has the community of interior
mall space, the convenience of exterior drive-up retail and the lure of
recognizable big box tenants and anchors, says Steven Smith, vice
president of Todd Interests. The company, working with the management
and construction oversight of Minneapolis-based Madison Marquette Realty
Services, is attracting tenants that allow customers to have a lifestyle
experience while stretching their dollars at the same time.
The company chose
to redevelop the center, located on 85th Street and Ward Parkway, with
this new focus after purchasing the property from Daiwa Financial Corporation.
Ward Parkway Center, built in 1959 and located in an affluent area south
of downtown, had been Kansas Citys dominant upscale shopping center
for decades. In the 1960s, the mall even held concerts by the Kansas City
Symphony in it halls. But mismanagement and increased competition from
high-end Country Club Plaza, just a few miles away, caused the Ward Parkway
Center to fall into obsolescence. By the time Todd Interests acquired
the property, the mall was 60 percent vacant and had anchors like a near-bankrupt
Montgomery Ward and a dark JC Penney.
the center was never going to be the high-end attraction again,
Smith says. But we had a phenomenal customer base and a legacy of
shopper history. The company then de-malled 80,000 square feet along
the interior corridor facing Stateline Road, creating a breezeway for
drive-up retail space. Todd Interests began a large effort to lease the
exterior portions of the center, which culminated in 300,000 square feet
of new tenants. The current tenant mix includes a 201,574-square-foot
Dillards, a 119,000-square-foot Target that replaced Montgomery
Ward and a 14-screen AMC Theater as anchors, as well as Pier 1 Imports,
Dicks Clothing and Sporting Goods, T.J. Maxx, Starbucks Coffee,
24 Hour Fitness and Stein Mart.
Center has leased more new space than any other existing retail center
in Kansas City, Smith says. He attributes the centers success
to the areas high-income demographics, high population count, high
traffic count and the centers history and great visibility. People
can eat here, get a cup of coffee and read the newspaper, watch a movie
and shop for any item they might need, he says. These tenants
create a real lifestyle experience.
Todd Interests is
also bringing back community-oriented events from the centers past.
While the Kansas City Symphony has not tuned up in the centers halls
yet, the company has held a community-wide 4-mile run for charity, invited
Santa Claus to read Christmas stories and planned a number of events for
the upcoming summer and fall seasons. Smith points out that the nostalgia
factor is paying off.
We are seeing
a lot of families coming back to enjoy the center they grew up with,
Smith says. Young couples moving into the area neighborhoods also make
up a large part of the customer base.
In 2003, Todd Interests
plans to lease the remaining space in the breezeway, including a slot
for a 25,000-square-foot junior anchor. Later in the year, the company
will shift more attention to the interior portion of the mall and the
side located next to Ward Parkway. Prospective tenants include a grocery
store, hardware store and clothing retailers. We have a lot of tenant
interest in the potential space on the Ward Parkway side, Smith
©2003 France Publications, Inc. Duplication
or reproduction of this article not permitted without authorization
from France Publications, Inc. For information on reprints of
this article contact Barbara
Sherer at (630) 554-6054.