Multi-million dollar redevelopment project set
ome major improvements are planned for Zona Rosa, a struggling mixed-use shopping center in Platte County at I-29 and Barry Road, managers of the property announced this week.
Officials with Trademark Property company, managers of Zona Rosa, said the redevelopment effort will include demolishing some retail storefronts in the building located south of Dillard’s department store to make room for a new outdoor green space.
The new oversized green space near Dillard’s will be utilized for activities and outdoor community events.
Another highlight will be major improvements to the current town square space near Bravo Italian Kitchen. The improvements to the town square space will include covered outdoor seating, a new stage and a splash park. New landscaping and public art will also be added, as well as improvements to the public restrooms and to the apartment and office buildings throughout Zona Rosa.
In later phases of this multimillion dollar effort, new muti-family residential development, hotel, office and restaurant space is being planned, according to the property managers.
Improvements are set to begin this fall and are planned to be finished by spring of 2021, Trademark Property Company officials said this week.
Monarchs Sub LLC purchased Zona Rosa in 2018 and then hired Trademark Property Company to manage the open air, mixed use shopping center that has featured a variety of upscale retail, restaurants, entertainment, office space and luxury residential units.
Zona Rosa became a thriving retail/entertainment center for Platte County shortly after its opening in 2004. Business fell off somewhat after what is now known as the Great Recession of 2008, and in recent years the retail struggles grew. More than 50 retail storefronts are now vacant within Zona Rosa.
Part of the redevelopment plan is to figure out the best ways to repurpose the extra retail space into something relevant and desired by the community, Trademark representatives say.
Demolishing the 25,000 square foot building south of Dillard’s will improve visibility of the Dillard’s store and better connect the first phase of Zona Rosa and the later phase that included the Dillard’s department store.
Dillard’s owns its Zona Rosa store and has redevelopment rights on the site. It has approved the plan for the green space and other nearby changes around its store.
Zona Rosa currently has more than 950,000 square feet of retail space but plans to cut that amount, better mixing its real estate with more office and residential space.
“There is so much potential to unlock at Zona Rosa,” said Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark Property Company, in a news release this week. “We’ve taken much time and care into developing the right concrete initiatives that will improve the property and redevelop it for the future based on the continuing evolution of the retail industry, and more importantly, the needs of the Kansas City community.
In recent years, Zona Rosa has seen more closings than openings. In recent months during the pandemic, its closings have included major restaurants such as Bar Louie and Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant, as well as some retail stores.
In 2007, $32 million in bonds were sold to finance two public parking garages. A special taxing district with a one cent sales tax was established to pay off the bonds, but revenues came up short for years. The developer initially covered shortfalls. In recent years, the developer stopped covering the shortfalls. The bond trustee, UMB Bank, and Platte County got into a legal dispute, with the county arguing that taxpayers were not legally bound to cover the shortfalls in the financing agreement between the parties. A judge agreed, as did the appeals court.
The Kansas City Star this week reported that UMB Bank has said it will seek a rehearing of the case or appeal the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Though the county is not legally bound to cover the shortfall, a downside is that Platte County’s credit rating tanked as a result.
According to a report in the Kansas City Star, in a Sept. 10 note to its bondholders, UMB reported that special sales tax collections at Zona Rosa have declined significantly during the pandemic. Special taxing districts had collected more than $131,446 from Zona Rosa sales in January but that figure fell to $51,112 in August.