Plaza to be sold by early next year

The Country Club Plaza is planned to be sold by early 2016. Having new owners brings some concern towards Plaza shoppers.


Kansas City Royals flags line the lanterns along the Plaza streets, celebrating the success of the season. Some restaurants in the area, such as Zócalo Mexican Cuisine & Tequileria, offer specials for “Blue October”, anticipating the excitement of the post-season.

by Zoe Butler and Meg Thompson

Kansas City’s “Crown Jewel,” the Country Club Plaza, is officially being sold. The current owners, Highwoods Properties, intend to sell most, if not all, of the wholly owned Country Club Plaza portfolio in Kansas City. They are planning on having it sold no later than early 2016 and have chosen Eastdil Secured to be their listing agent.

Highwoods Properties is selling the plaza to pay off a debt that came from acquiring Monarch Centre in Atlanta and SunTrust Financial Centre in Tampa and for general corporate purposes. They have owned the Plaza for the last 17 years.

The 15-block property includes 804,000 square feet of retail space, 150 shops, 617,000 square feet of office space and dozens of restaurants.

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The Plaza is known for being one of the nation’s first vehicle-accommodating shopping centres. It used to be known for having small local shops and restaurants, but is now occupied mainly by chains. Some locals are skeptical about the transition of owners, and the changes to come with it.

“I just heard about the sale, and I don’t know what to expect – if it will be good or bad for me, being one of the little guys,” Ralph Liebetrau, co-owner of Decori, told the Kansas City Star. “I get a lot of visitors – tourists – who are a little bit disappointed at the Plaza, that it doesn’t have more unique shops, but the same things they have at home.”

The concern stretches even farther to some Plaza shoppers.

“I am worried about the plaza changing, but I think the new owners will try to keep it very similar,” junior and Plaza shopper Isabela Solorio said.

Along with the announcement of the Plaza up for sale, the Kansas City Council is considering a plan that updates the original 1989 Plaza plan. It will be vital in protecting the Plaza’s unique Spanish-style charm from a buyer wanting to develop the area.

The Plaza has always been kept lively with its many special events, and overall shopping experience. It is most famous for the annual Plaza Art Fair and the Lighting Ceremony on the night of Thanksgiving. Highwoods Properties is currently focusing on this year’s 86th annual Lighting Ceremony.

“I’m not too worried about [the Plaza Art Fair and Lighting Ceremony] stopping,” sophomore and Plaza shopper Maureen Egan said. “If they were to stop those things, they would never hear the end of it from all of Kansas City.”