Big news broke this week: The Country Club Plaza may have new owners soon. But before we dive into the new, let’s take a look at the old — here’s a walk down memory lane, and the Plaza’s past ownership.
1922-1998: J.C. Nichols
One of Kansas City’s most influential figures, J.C. Nichols was the man responsible for building our beloved shopping center.
In 1922, builders broke ground, and the first store greeted customers in spring of 1923. It was designed to compliment the Country Club Plaza neighborhood (which Nichols also built).
The Plaza was:
- The first shopping center built for cars.
- The first outdoor shopping center in America.
- Modeled after buildings in Seville, Spain. Fun fact: the Giralda tower is an exact one-half scaled replica of its twin in Seville.
Among its first tenants were hat shops, gas stations, car dealerships, and even a grocery store (yes, there was a grocery store). Some of the most iconic places during the Nichols reign were Swanson’s, Halls, and Sears.
1998-2016: Highwoods Properties
In 1998, The J.C. Nichols Company decided to shake things up and merge with North Carolina’s Highwoods Properties. During Highwoods’ reign, the Plaza went through several large store changes, including saying hello and goodbye to a Tesla showroom.
2016-Today: Taubman Centers and The Macerich Company
After 18 years of ownership, Highwoods Properties passed the Plaza torch. Taubman Centers and The Macerich Company jointly purchased the 15-block shopping district, continuing the Plaza’s legacy.
In those seven years, the Plaza added a myriad of national brands, including Johnny Was, Psycho Bunny, and a Nike lifestyle store. They also fostered hometown pride with local businesses like Made in KC, Bruú Café, Razzleberry, and Nickle & Suede.
Fun fact: Washburne is married to Heather Hill Washburne, a descendent of H.L. Hunt who is the father of Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt.
If all goes well, the keys will exchange hands by the end of this year.