Hearne: The Case for Not Tearing Down Metcalf South

largeFull Disclosure: Wade Williams definitely has a dog in this fight…

The writer-producer-director-exhibitor who owns the largest independent library of science-fiction film rights, distributes his product worldwide and also lives in Kansas City, is the checkbook behind the Fine Arts Theatre Group. The group that operates the Rio, Glenwood and Leawood movie theaters.

So when new owners of the Metcalf South Shopping Center announced in March that the 1960s era mall would likely be razed, Williams was bummed.

That’s because his group operates a mini movie plex there called The Glenwood Arts. The three holer – formerly the Metcalf Theatre – is the titular successor to Dickinson’s Theatres once proud Glenwood Theatre at 91st and Metcalf.

Williams’ take on tearing down Metcalf South?

“I hope Metcalf South’s there forever,” he says. “It’s not a big enough spot to do a huge, new mall on.”

rmsc_2Williams thinks developers should follow the lead of Ward Parkway and Ranch Mart and improve upon what’s already in place at Metcalf South.

“It worked very well at Ranch Mart,” Williams says. “They did a beautiful job.”

A beautiful job that includes Williams’ Leawood Theatre in the basement, which is now showing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jersey Boys, Sex Tape, Snowpiercer, Third Person and Words and Pictures. For people who prefer an “old school” movie theater experience.

metcalf-south-07“I wish they would do what they did to Ranch Mart and put a facade on the front and get some new tenants and some pad sights,” Williams says. “Look what Jack’s Stack does across the street. They’re wasting their time looking into building a new mall. They say the plumbing needs to be repaired. So what? It’s a lot easier to fix the plumbing than to tear everything down.”

And even if longtime anchor tenant Sears should go the way of the dinosaur, “There’s a lot of other big box stores that could come in there,” Williams says. “Like Target did at Ward Parkway. But maybe they don’t need a big box store.”

Developers say they’re taking suggestions, studying possible solutions and hope to announce a game plan for Metcalf South sometime this year.

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8 Responses to Hearne: The Case for Not Tearing Down Metcalf South

  1. PB says:

    Nothing against Wade Williams, I’ve always appreciated what he’s done for the indy/art/retro movie scene in KC, but those “Glenwood” theatres in Metcalf South are so awful, I generally avoid going there unless it’s for a film I can’t see anywhere else. I literally have a better viewing experience at home and my house sucks. That house just isn’t needed anymore even for the Fine Arts group as they can spare the public having to go to those sh!tboxes by simply spreading that fare among their other houses (isn’t Red Bridge now theirs as well?).

  2. rkcal says:

    I thought the plan was to turn the acreage into living spaces/offices/shops; like a walkable community? To build another mall makes no sense, the concept is dead. To keep the existing one going is just prioritizing nostalgia over practicality.

  3. mike t. says:

    my understanding was they were considering a mixed-use development, something like what rkcal mentioned… but the developers named a specific model and I can’t recall where the place is now (Leawood?) or what it’s called. pad sites were definitely involved too.

    and I’m not sure what wade was smoking, but Ranchmart and Metcalf South have nothing in common. street-level strip type mall vs 3-story enclosed mall? you can’t just slap some lipstick on it. plus, again my understanding, sears owns their building and is not part of the development plan. if, or maybe when, sears goes under, that’s a whole ‘nuther story.

    don’t forget, this same group owns the property across 95th to the north too. but I don’t think there’s any heartburn over seeing that old K-Mart-fabric store, etc. go away.

  4. chuck says:

    I had no idea that “Plumbing problems” were the catalyst in this tear down.

  5. balbonis moleskine says:

    This mall has always been third rate shopping even back in the 80s. The place to shop if you couldn’t shop at Oak Park or Ward Parkway.

    For Christ sake remember when CG tried to have a House of Blue Yuks there? I think there were like 100 people who ever saw a show there. Probably people who thought they were going to topsys.

    • Joey Gallo says:

      That was CG’s old man that had that place…..after they had their falling out.

  6. Bill Doty says:

    I am guessing that the only logical objective in these days of obsolete malls and shopping competition from the Internet – is (again, guessing) that they will build a Super WalMart on the north side of 95th to compete head on with the Super Hy Vee at 95th & Antioch. The population in north OP is older, looks for food bargains and they can undercut prices at that Hy Vee. That would take tax incentives which would take taxpayer money from the local school district(s). Also, Red Lobster and Olive Garden have long term leases on the north side so there would be a mix – good restaurants and Walmart!!!???

    My guess is that there isn’t enough room for a Walmart on the south side of 95th. So – restaurants, shoppes, and Glenwood Arts with its art house Independent films and Kansas International Film Festival – seem logical? One thing’s for sure – if we don’t like it, we don’t have to patronize it.

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