After 50 Years Of Indoor Shopping, Metcalf South Is Coming Down In Overland Park

Apr 25, 2017

This week marks beginning of the end of the Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas. It's officially demolition time — though it might be hard to tell for awhile.

The 50-acre site at the southeast corner of 95th and Metcalf Avenue is now surrounded by a simple chain link fence.  The outer brick walls won't be knocked down until early summer, says Owen Buckley, president of developer Lane4, which owns the property.

Notably absent is the iconic Metcalf South sign, with its double humped “M” with an arrow extending below the letter. The “M” is one of the items of historical significance that may be preserved by Johnson County historians. Buckley says Lane4 opened the doors for historians to preserve anything of interest.

But Lane4 is keeping the fountain from the first floor and hopes to use it in a new development on the Metcalf South site.

A Lowe's Home Improvement, opening in summer 2018, will be the anchor tenant for that development, Buckley says. Construction is expected to begin in October.

The project plan also includes smaller detached retail and restaurants. Tenants have not yet been announced.

Sears in Kansas City survived the closing of some 150 stores nationwide. Sears will remain open at Metcalf South.
Credit Laura Ziegler

But all is not gone from the old Metcalf South. The Sears store on the southwest corner of the mall remains open, despite recent nationwide closings of Sears stores recently. The store will be detached from the rest of the property and Lane4 plans to build a wall consistent with the rest of the project.

Metcalf South was one of the first indoor malls to be built in America.  A crowd of some 10,000 --  including  Debbie Bryant, Miss America of 1966 -- attended the ceremonial opening in 1967.  Metcalf South eventually would expand into an 800,000-square-foot property with some 60 stores.

Among the first anchor stores at Metcalf South were Woolworths, Harzfeld’s, Katz Drug Store, The Jones Store and a Safeway supermarket. Other tenants included Adler's, Baker Shoes, The Cake Box, Chasnoff's, Jenkins Music Store, Orange Julius and Smaks hamburgers.

The first indoor mall was in a suburb of Minneapolis in 1956. 

Kansas City also figured prominently in the evolution of the outdoor shopping mall. The Country Club Plaza, built as a suburban outdoor mall in 1922, was among the first of its kind in the country.

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer. Reach her via Twitter @laurazig or email lauraz@kcur.org.