The questions never fail to come up when people come to city councils to share their views on the latest development plan: How can [insert your city’s name here] even consider tax incentives to build retail?
Isn’t retail dying because of the internet?
Isn’t there too much retail space in the area already?
The answer, according to local developers and real estate analysts, appears to be no.
Despite a steady drumbeat of predictions about the death of retail, developers continue to get those projects approved. Overland Park officials are currently considering retail for The Edison District project downtown and for CityPlace near College Boulevard and U.S. Highway 69. The Brookridge redevelopment proposalcontinues to kick around city hall.
And it’s doubtful those will be the last.
“Real estate isn’t as cut-and-dried as a lot of people think,” said Brandon Buckley, vice president of LANE4 Property Group. Like other developers, Buckley doesn’t believe retail is dying. Just changing.
“I still think the market is healthy. Some asset classes will be looked at differently than others,” he said. Big box retailers might be on the wane now, but “people are not going to stay in their homes and not experience the outside world,” he said.
Buckley’s optimism is rooted in developers’ ability to adapt to the profound changes in spending habits that began with the Great Recession, he said.
Retail stores have been on wobbly footing for a while. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of closings and faltering bottom lines. Sports Authority, once a presence in Overland Park, is now out of business. The Toys R Us Overland Park store also made the closings list. And just for good measure, Nordstrom announced it would leave Oak Park Mall to concentrate on a Country Club Plaza location.