Today the Star reports on the latest version of Cerner and Lane4′s plan to redevelopment the old Bannister Mall site in south Kansas City. Sadly the plan focuses on big box retail and suburban office parks, instead of seizing an opportunity to develop a new mixed-use, sustainable neighborhood.
Now known as The Trails, the $600 million plan relies heavily on the big box retail that is already going out of style in favor of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. Bannister Mall fell victim to the outdated enclosed mall concept, and its replacement relies on an idea that is also past its prime. Lane4 mentions the possibility of small “Main Street” shopping area, but the vast majority of The Trails would be big boxes and giant parking lots.
The Bannister site could be a huge opportunity to really improve the quality of life in south Kansas City and provide a great local model for infill suburban redevelopment. A mix of housing, shopping, and offices in a walkable setting would create a sustainable neighborhood to last for generations, instead of cheap boxes that will be obsolete as soon as they open. The plan does nothing to address south KC’s housing needs or provide new alternatives to the obsolete post-WWII tract houses.
This development will have massive taxpayer subsidies, so we deserve something that will outlast 20 year debt service. These big boxes will be ready for another redevelopment in a lot less than 20 years, assuming they can even be filled. Subsidizing retail development has been one of the biggest complaints about the city’s tax break system since it’s the least sustainable and most quickly outdated type of development around.