Skip to main content

When Oak Park Mall landed Nordstrom department store two decades ago, it was seen as a major upset over rival Country Club Plaza, which also was trying to snag the upscale retailer.

Nordstrom’s three-story, 200,000-square-foot store also launched a new Oak Park Mall wing that would include 44,000 square feet of additional retail and helped set the Overland Park mall as a destination shopping center with exclusive tenants that would draw away Plaza customers, tenants such as the area’s only American Girl and Lolli & Pops.

But the tables have turned. In three years Nordstrom will move from Oak Park Mall to the Plaza and leave mall owners scrambling to fill a massive department store space when most department stores are downsizing.

Nordstrom’s departure will clearly be a challenge, said Mike Berenbom, vice president for investments with the Lane4 Property Group, a prominent Kansas City real estate firm.

“It’s clearly not good news for the mall,” Berenbom said, although he noted that generally Oak Park Mall has managed to thrive when many others have not.

He pointed out that the metro area used to have eight major enclosed shopping malls and now has just two: Oak Park and Independence Center. And Independence Center is scheduled for a foreclosure sale Feb. 16 because it’s facing default on a $200 million loan.

Read More