Bannister Mall; Kansas City, Missouri

Bannister Mall in Kansas City, MO

The fountains here are still running, but for how much longer? 

UPDATE 5/31/07:  The mall has closed permanently.

Our first post from Kansas City focuses on a one-million square-foot behemoth of broken dreams.  Opened in 1980, the two-level Bannister Mall is located at the interchange between I-435 and Bannister Road in southeast Kansas City.  Once a poster mall for success and the center of retailing for the whole area, Bannister quickly slid into trouble and today is on life support.  While many respectable retailers remain, the majority of them are local and some are transient.  Most importantly, the last anchor at Bannister left the beleagured center in March 2006.  As we attempt to interrogate why this occurred, we can start with understanding the history of the mall.

The decor and layout of Bannister Mall feature a virtually unchanged design from the mall’s opening in 1980.  There are many wooden adornments such as the railings, and the floor and fountains sport brownish-red tiles.  There are also numerous trees and planters throughout the mall, flanked with wood trim.  Also unique to Bannister are several modern art-like sculptures at the two “center court” areas throughout the long, two-level corridor connecting the former Sears on the south end to the former Jones Store on the north.  Speaking of the Jones Store, Bannister’s location featured an old cursive logo with a wooden store facade which is still visible in labelscar form.  Finally, there is a large, mostly vacant food court on the upper level near the Jones Store on the west side.  Check out the pictures for more decor detail. 

Bannister Mall fountain in Kansas City, MOWhen Bannister Mall debuted in 1980, the Kansas City Star featured several full-page advertisements inviting would-be patrons to join in the opening festivities.  Bannister was the first KC Metro mall which had four anchors: Jones Store, Macy’s, Sears, and JCPenney.  In 1986, Macy’s became Dillards as Macy’s left the Kansas City market, but it affected the mall little.  Bannister soldiered on successful through the balance of the 1980s, but the 1990s brought a long, arduous decline.  According to an article on, some in-line stores at Bannister during its success included: Petland, KB Toys, Musicland, Pretzel Time, Saturday Matinee, Kinder Photo, Tiny Treasures (a store for little girls), Things Remembered, Mr. Bulky’s (candy), Lady Foot Locker, Foot Locker, two Claires locations, several Jewelry stores, Kids Foot Locker, Waldenbooks and B Dalton.  

Although Bannister’s decline began in the early 1990s, it didn’t reach severity until later in the decade, culminating in the departure of many in-line retailers and finally JCPenney during the Summer of 2000.  As early as February 1998 there were as many as 15 empty storefronts at Bannister Mall.  Then, the movie theatres closed because of too many fights.  In addition, more crimes were reported including petty larceny, grand theft auto, and even armed robbery.  In 2001, TIAA-CREF eked out a deal for redevelopment between Bass Pro Shops and Bannister Mall which would place one of the outlet’s glorified bait shops within the declining mall.  Hopes of resurrection envigorated the outlook of Bannister, but by the end of 2004 the deal collapsed and the store relocated to Independence.  Also, in 2002, Dillards closed, leaving Bannister with only two anchors: Sears and Jones Store.

Following the Bass Pro debacle, in 2003 exasperated owner TIAA-CREF sold Bannister Mall to a Texas businessman by the name of Stanley Spigel.  Around the same time, local government officials developed a plan to locate a massive mass-transit center near the mall.  The same year, Spigel bought both the vacant Dillards and JCPenney stores, and promised to donate the vacant JCPenney space to a non-profit organization and even to give it windows.  There was hope for Bannister yet, even if it became a hybridized retail/office conglomeration.  However, as with most attempts at salvaging a dying mall by adding non-retail components, this plan has failed or at least has yet to come to fruition.  In early 2005, the Jones Store closed and in March 2006 Sears finally closed, leaving Bannister Mall anchorless, essentially a car without wheels. 

Bannister Mall food court in Kansas City, MOToday, Bannister Mall is a forgotten jewel in a depressed landscape.  In 2006, around 3000 jobs left the Bannister area as the federal government relocated them elsewhere in Kansas City.  Many strip malls around Bannister are troubled as well, and in August 2006 Wal-Mart Supercenter closed its location near Bannister Mall to relocate at the former site of Blue Ridge Mall, several miles north.  The decline of this once-prosperous retail neighborhood is extensive, as people continue to shop in Lee’s Summit, Independence, or in Kansas and ignore the Bannister area. 

Despite these problems, there are still several dozen in-line merchants still operating inside Bannister Mall.  With some exceptions, most of the stores inside Bannister today are local and transient, and many keep nonstandard hours.  There is also a flea market operating in the former Dillards/Macys location; the stores in the mall would certainly fare better if an actual anchor existded.  In addition, Bannister Mall has been renamed according to one article in the Kansas City Business Journal – to Three Trails Village, signifying the three wagon trails which converged here during pioneer days, including the famed Oregon Trail.

What do you think will become of Bannister Mall?  Will it remain fallow until it eventually closes for good with no redevelopment initiative, or will something save it?  Leave your experiences and general comments here.  The pictures here were taken in 2001 and 2006.   


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218 thoughts on “Bannister Mall; Kansas City, Missouri”

  1. Wow. This is one of the most fascinating little malls you’ve covered on here as of late. What a wood-trimmed fantasy! The mall is just creepy while it might’ve been cozy; I don’t see anyone in these pictures. This place is really a piece of history. Love that spiral staircase and fountain.

  2. LOL. I just noticed that catering dude! Looks like he doubled that self-portrait from a police file photo! That’s amazing!

  3. I don’t know why…but I get a very Machesney Park Mall vibe from this post and this mall. Maybe it’s got something to do with the overall emptiness or something.

  4. Unfortunately, it smells like a gonner to me.

  5. Is that an original script “The Jone’s Store” labelscar in the 5th photo of the collage? I cant make it out fully, but from what I can see, it looks to be so.

  6. This mall is definately not going to make it. I give it less than a year until it gets sealed up for good. What a waste of such a nicely designed mall.

  7. Maybe his catering really is tasty? I’d hope so, anyway…

  8. 5th pic definately looks like a Jones Store labelscar to me, so I’d safely say yes there.

    The 6th pic is incredibly depressing to look at(of the 2nd floor of The Jones Store wing of the mall). I bet this was a very successful and happening mall when all the anchors were around.

    BTW, wasn’t JCPenney in financial trouble or something in the early 2000s, before they started their current advertising campaign to change their image? I’m guessing maybe that’s why they closed the Bannister location, since I know they closed 2 locations at local malls I occasionally went to in the early 2000s.

  9. Forgot to say I love the fountain that’s still in this mall, too! I wish more malls still had those….

  10. Does anyone know the reasoning as to why most of the fountains in malls have been removed. A few things come to mind, one of them would be the unsupervised children playing in or near them and parents suing the owners because thier precious unsupervised child was harmed. Another reason I can think of is the cutback on maintenance staff and the upkeep needed to maintain them. Either way, I personally think ridding malls of fountains is cruel!!!

  11. Fountains are a phased out fashion, a relic of the glory days of indoor malls when conceptual, fresh and often trendy design was widespread pinnacle (in the 60s~80s). As you know, this agenda is much different from those days today. I think the reasoning behind it is simply that fountains aren’t mesmerizing anymore nor is cutting edge design at shopping malls recognized by most people. This has much to do with outdoor and lifestyle centers which have become a way of the future; why enjoy the amenities of the outdoors inside? That groove is fading ever since the millennium struck, seeing as most malls are now removing fountains, and keeping planters to a minimum.

    One must also consider the costs to keep a grandiose fountain running. Consider the maintenance as well, which most likely runs unnecessary costs up. Why do this anymore when storefronts, who generally carry the fashion angle at malls instead of the center itself? Put more seating, perhaps a coffee bar and you’ve got more commerce. Again, one must also acknowledge the concept (I read somewhere, might’ve been here) the movement of profit per square foot (putting advertisments often in misplaced areas, banners, etc.).

    I don’t support this trend. Personally, I think fountains create a more pleasing, noise-flushing (if you will) atmosphere. Anyway, this is my thought…

  12. I think an additional reason mall fountains have gone the way of the dinosaur is to make room for the almighty kiosk. I know several malls in my area had extensive fountains located intermittently throughout the in-line space and now those malls have various kiosks selling crocs, blinky pictures of the World Trade Center, blinky pictures of Jesus, and various skin care crap. Yeah, maintenance is probably a big issue, but when they decided they could put retail carts every 12 feet in the mall’s common area, so went the notion of fountains, conversation pits, etc. It’s pretty sad, I think, but certainly a commentary on our desire for profit potential over aesthetic place-making. And I could go on about the abysmal-looking lone planters which have replaced actual trees and gardens inside malls, but I’ll save that for now.

    As for the JCPenney at Bannister, I do believe it was part of a larger round of closures during a period of instability for the company. Seems as though they’ve bounced back, though, which is somewhat surprising to me. I never really felt that JCPenney had a proper niche to bring it into the 21st century, as many of their stores were/are incredibly dated, but they ramped up their advertising and modernized their offerings and good for them.

  13. That staircase is incredibly beautiful. What a shame – more design that will be missed by future generations.

  14. i have been shopping at bannister mall for years……in the early 90s when walmart(hypermart) opened out around bannister….bannister was the happening place in kc there was also a montgomery wards by the mall which opened the same time as wal-mart and closed before 2000 and as in former teants of bannister mall…there was also a treasury drug and a furr’s cafeteria..and a restaurant called annie’s sante fe…all of which were gone before 2000 as well….i first moved to kc in 2000 and i could tell then that bannister was dying and within the next 5 years the largest mall in the kc metro is now one big empty building with no hope of ever returning to where it once was… is very sad and personally i like banniser alot better than or oak park mall but too bad there is nothing out at bannister to go to anymore..and also on the fact that this mall could close i hear by april it will be closed completely but not sure….kansas city is a eyesore for any fan of malls and bannister mall and that area reminds me eerily of dixie square mall in harvey

  15. Sounds about as dead as dead gets to me. The government complex didn’t generate enough foot traffic before, so I can’t see how there’s any hope now that those jobs have been relocated to other areas of the city. Not much was said about the neighborhood, but am I correct in assuming that it also has gone downhill?

  16. Also, this mall is a dead ringer for Hunt Valley Mall before it was turned into a lifestyle/big box hybrid. The difference is that Hunt Valley could have had a fighting chance if the owners had invested money into revitalizing and expanding it instead of tacking on a theatre and stores that didn’t have mall entrances and letting the mall itself stand as a monument to 1982. It’s further out than Towson Town Center, but as has been shown by the success of Hunt Valley Centre, it’s not so far that people won’t travel if there’s enough to draw them in. The money is there in that area, but when Macy’s closed, leaving only Sears as an anchor, there was nothing to keep the affluent shoppers coming.

  17. Now that I think about it, the stairway shown in this pic reminds me of the one in Brickyard Mall in Chicago, IL years ago(before it was torn down for another ‘lifestyle center’). The depressed, carpeted, seating areas shown in pics 14 and 17(also the 4th and 7th pic in the set) also were a feature of this mall, too.

    Sure wish mall developers had not cast these ideas(and ditto with fountains too, while I’m at it) by the wayside years ago, in favor of profit-driven small kiosks….

  18. I don’t remember seeing the 2001 pictures last time I was here…they are a nice addition, and especially nice to see some stores open.

    This place reminds me of my old stomping grounds, Cumberland Mall. More earth-toned, but very late 70s-early 80s. Sigh.

  19. The mall’s decor, flooring and fountains remind me of Greengate Mall in Greensburg, PA, which has since been demolished. It was also built in the mid 60’s. By looking at those pics, I thought the mall was much older than it’s completion date in the 80s.

  20. I think Chesterfield Mall (I won’t ever call it Westfield Shoppingtown Chesterfield, as it was rechristened) outside of St. Louis is this mall’s twin, but I think the depressed seating and fountains were removed in the last remodel/addition a few years ago. But, before that, they looked awfully similar both in and outside. I’m pretty sure Chesterfield was originally a Sears/Homart owned mall – was Bannister as well?

  21. I think Bannister was once owned by the same group that developed Oak Park Mall

  22. As a person that has lived in the area, who moved after getting my house broken into, and as a person who still works in the mall area, I see that everyone seems to acknowledge there is a problem at the mall and South Kansas City area, but no one seems to care about doing anything about Hyper-Mart moving out and then screwing its old employees is the most recent incident. When Bass Pro considered and then pulled out of putting a store at the mall, no one put up a fuss, no one cared. No one seems to care about the other business in the area that have closed after being in the area for years or even decades. All the anchors and other stores in the mall, Circuity City, Best Buy, Hobby Lobby, Petsmart, Red Lobster, Denny’s, Savers, and many others, all gone. These stores did their best to serve the area, but no one came from other parts of the city to shop here and as a result of that and bad crime, they left.
    Much of the people still living in the area are older couples/individuals or people looking for cheap housing. Property values are low, the economic status of a lot of people in the area is low, there are many single parent households, crime is high, and the schools are bad, 2nd only to Kansas City School District in terms of low academic performance. The community has not united and said this is enough, lets make a change, and city leaders have ignored the area. It is no wonder the mall and area has gone down like it has.

  23. Reminds me a little of Greengate, too, Gary–as I was reading comments about fountains, I was thinking about the fountain that was there. Many a happy memory!

  24. I haven’t been here in about 6-7 years, but going from the pics, I can see it has declined even further in that time. It was obviously deteriorating then, but I still had some places there I would check out on occasion. Little point now, with so many empty spaces and the threat of having your car stolen…

    I can’t see it coming back from the state it’s in now. Sad, as it was once a pretty nice place to visit.

  25. Oh, no, another tragic Kansas City mall. These pictures are SO depressing, especially since the Bannister Mall I remember is the one from the early 1980’s when it first opened and was THE mall to visit, especially if you were from out of town. That’s definitely a Jones Store labelscar. If I remember correctly, the Jones Store had fabulous multi-colored neon lights in the escalator area, the mall itself had tons of restaurants and upscale shops (Crabtree & Evelyn, etc.) and it seemed absolutely HUGE to someone from a smaller town. But those 2006 pictures? Heartbreaking!

  26. I was born in KC in 1981 and grew up in South Kansas City. After 23 years I moved and my family moved towards midtown. Yes, South KC is failing…miserably. I am a teacher in the KC school district; the Bannister area is served by Center and Hickman Mills which are both in worse condition (financially) than KC district. I spent many, many, MANY shopping trips at this mall and, literally, almost teared up seeing these pictures. I took a trip to Tiny Treasures for my 8th birthday and haven’t given up Hello Kitty since. I must have walked this mall almost a million times. But, my family and I stopped coming for safety reasons. We still occasionally went to the Wal-Mart supercenter, but that has since closed as well. This is a truly forgotten area of KC and, as a life long resident, I can say that South KC is in need of revitalization more than downtown. I know that sounds crazy but because of the close proximity of I-435 and the academic success of Center Schools, KC needs to invest in this area. I also worked at the Federal Complex, which has been vacated. This area needs help. So many memories at this mall….

  27. Attending Lutheran High School out south, the Fun Factory arcade was THE meeting place on a Friday night in the early ’80’s. I still have a Jones Store coat from a mall-wide sidewalk sale! Sunday ngihts with DJ Debbie Z at Annie’s Santa Fe was THE place to be while in college at Avila in the mid-80’s. I worked for 4 years at Bennigan’s in the mall parking lot and we made BIG money — enought to put myself through college and buy 2 new cars. Bennigan’s was THE place to eat before you went off to Cheyenne Country Club/Confetti’s…whatever the bar off Hickman Mills Drive was called that year. Met some of the best friends I’ve ever had while working there. Left the area in late 1988 and things were going downhill. Soon there were armed “outposts” in the mall parking lot. Bennigan’s business slid — they held on longer than expected. The mall anchors started closing. Now it’s just a memory, but a good one.

  28. One of the factors that killed the entire Bannister corridor was the expansion of US 71 Hwy, this road used to terminate at 87th St, then 75th St until it it was completed all the way into the urban core of KC. Unfortunately it included exit and on ramps into some the most undesirable and lowest income parts of KC.
    US 71 Hwy became a spillway from these high crime urban areas into the Bannister and 95th St corridor, property values in the entire 5 sq mile area dropped precipitously, retailers fled systematically due to higher shoplifting, shrinkage and of course declining sales.
    Interestingly, the QuikTrip convenience store across the street was the first QuikTrip in the entire chain (five states at that time) to require prepayment for gasoline during daylight hours (this was before 1995 when gasoline was hovering around $1 per gallon).
    Anyone who wants to accuse my comments or viewpoint as racist can choose to do so although hardly the case, you can correlate the decline of property values and decreased sales and store closings at Bannister with the subsequent completion of every US 71 Hwy on ramp, this also afflicted the WalMart Hypermart across the street which jokingly became known as “Slaughtermart” by the local residents and even internally by WalMart in Bentonville, AR. They held out as long as they could but finally had to leave because sales had declined so precipitously and were cannibalized by another WalMart store in Belton, MO approximately 9 miles south of Bannister off US 71 Hwy. The reason the Belton area hasn’t been decimated is several, the Metro Bus Line doesn’t go that far south and doesn’t transport the poorer residents from the blighted areas, however Grandview MO (the boyhood home of President Harry S. Truman) has been decimated by the 71 spillway because of the Metro and hoodlums with cars.

    There are ruminations of the Wizards Soccer Team moving to the Bannister area, this is dream that is as funny as it is delusional, the forces that killed Bannister aren’t going to magically subside overnight so soccer parents will feel safe in the area, every evening on the news is another story of an armed robbery, car jacking, homicide and other violent crime in the area, any thoughts of converting Bannister Mall into some kind of quasi “West Berlin” sanctuary is a childish thought. The Bass Pro Shops did consider the Bannister area in 2001, then they actually VISITED the mall and discovered how blighted and dangerous it was and picked the lilly and culturally devoid suburbs of Johnson County instead.

    It is a shame because I purchased a home south of Bannister in 1992 and it was a nice working class neighborhood, now the area is just a capillary of the crime ridden urban core (thanks again to US 71 Hwy) and 71 Hwy was the one of the worst and poorly planned roads in KC’s history since it was meant to provide an expressway from Belton, Grandview and South Kansas City to downtown KC.

    The problem is, the majority of KC residents work in Johnson County Kansas to the west of KC, Missouri and downtown KCMO is suffering it’s own set of exodus. 71 Hwy was the right road, but it was built too late and built in the wrong direction.

  29. This mall is closing on May 31st.

  30. The owner of the mall has announed that at the end of May 2007, the mall will shut down! This was released on local news on April 20th on local news channels in Kansas City.

    The remaining anchors in Bannister Mall have until the end of May to clear out, and then the mall will shut down for good. It’s too bad, especially sense it use to be a great shopping place.

  31. ^ Anchors = Tenants/Stores, sorry for the mistype 😛

  32. Bass Pro Shop pulled the plug on the deal after the Jones Store said they wouldn’t move to another part of the mall, and then they promptly closed up shop a few months later.

    I spent loads and loads of time and money at the mall as young mall rat. Some of stores I remember that haven’t been mentioned were Camelot Music, Fun Factory, City Zoo and a costume shop I can’t remember the name of. I also remember a Merry Go Round clothing store, and a few other clothing stores I can’t remember the name of either. My mom worked at Hickory Farms in the mall for awhile. One of the other things I remember is a little recording studio they had there. You could make your own little tape.

    Bannister Mall was the place there for awhile. I went’ to the Hickman Mills school district and performed school things at the Center Court a few times. For a couple years the Chiefs did a weekly show there where you could meet the players and be on the show.

    Good times.

  33. Another comment-where Hypermart/Walmart and that whole big strip mall was used to be a part of Benjamin Ranch and their riding trails.

    That is mostly empty now too. The big tenants in there used to be Circuit City, Hobby Lobby, Sheplers (!), Richman Gordmans, Steinmart. All gone. A Burlington Coat factory remains, a used game retailer and a clothing retail called Gen X.

    Across the street used to be Montgomery Ward-as noted above- Toys are us, Just for Feet, Best Buy and a Christian bookstore. All gone. There isn’t much left of Benjamin Ranch these days either.

  34. WOW, I’m shocked(after reading the last few posts) how the Bannister Mall area has declined as much as it has in the last 10-15 years. I didn’t realize the areas surrounding it have suffered THAT great of an increase in crime, due to US 71 being converted into an expressway connecting downtown and some of the outer areas of KC. I now see why, without any doubt or questions, see how Bannister(and the surrounding retail strip(s)) have declined so much, now…..

    Not to also mention, Bannister eerily(sp?) seems to have parallels to other malls(i.e. River Roads Mall of Jennings(St. Louis area), MO, and Dixie Square Mall of Harvey(Chicago area), IL, that also declined, due to being viewed by the middle and upper classes as “dangerous and/or undesirable”).

  35. I am planning on going to the mall tomorrow for the last time. I will do a thorough walk through on both levels, and try to invision the mall as it was in it’s former success, many years ago. I am sad that it will close on 05/31/07 but at least I will have one more lasting memory of the mall. With 1 million square feet, it is one of the larger malls in the kansas City area, next to Oak Park mall, Independence mall,Metro North mall, and former Blue Ridge mall..

    It will be missed!

  36. What are the plans for C Withers Tasty Catering after the mall closes?

  37. Mr. Carl Withers sent me a personal message via Facebook on my comment earlier: “That’s not a police photo.”

  38. I have to say, guys: I’m really touched by the concern for C. Withers’ future. I always knew Labelscarers were good people, and now I have proof.

  39. …that and this link was on, so all those comments are from KC.

    I always remembered that the fountains were turned off, and don’t ever remember them being on except in the very late ninetys. The whole of south KC is overcome with crime now, KMart is the only thing left in the area, and they caught someone doing something to an employee there not to long ago, and there was a dumb person that set a fire in an apartment right behind the KMart. I’d blame the mall management, they just should have made Jones move. Benjamin Plaza was the equivalent to all of the shops that surrond Independence Center, and it fell apart until WalMart was by itself. In itself it had a Circuit City, Best Buy, Wards, Hobby Lobby and Funcoland among others. The only new developments in this area is the fire station, which was built in the mall parking lot to replace the outdated one next door, and the Wendy’s which is on US 71.

  40. This really sucks that Bannister Mall is going out business completely. I ran a store there for 5 years in the mid 90’s and hung out there from 1983 until about 1990. I will take one final stroll through there at the end of this month, take some pictures of my old storefront and try and post them.

  41. Hmmm, are the Royals in town Memorial Day Weekend? It might be time for a road trip…. I haven’t been inside Bannister Mall since 1988.

    By the way, there is an old Bannister Mall commercial on YouTube.

  42. The only national chain stores left at this mall are athletic shoe stores (Foot Locker,they even have a store at the Landing and Finish Line), any there any baby clothes stores there?

  43. Regarding about why malls are phasing out fountains, the danger of being sued by parents for their kids falling into them is a good reason,maintainance and budget is one too, especially considering these things will need upgrades as their pump systems age, I think it also has to do with their reputable image, remember when malls used have fountains that people threw pennies in like it was a wishing well? Well, to them that was probably an embarrassment seeing all that clutter in their presentable fountains.

    I think that they had problems with people dumping their trash in the fountains too now that I remember correctly, oh, shit! something I just remembered right now from a long time ago, one time when I was little I had to go to the bathroom real real bad in front of Sears in the old Waterbury mall, and one of the things my mom suggested was to and as I quote “pee,in the fountain” uh,yeah I don’t think you want to hear the rest of the story, they weren’t ALL happy childhood memories,gulp. It’s true!! a lot of parents told this suggestion to their kids and it happened in malls a lot. (“when no one is looking”)

    (I think I might throw up now)

    I’d bet the managers weren’t to happy about that,either.

    Plus, think! of it this way,where does all that water go? isn’t it recycled somewhere? the malls water supply maybe? or perhaps the city’s watershed?

    While it’s sad to see fountains go, I think there were pretty good logical reasons to make smaller ones,or completely remove them,yikes.

    just to think about what they did in malls back then,I wonder…….

    Okay, enough about that unpleasant subject.

  44. Above reason also explains why malls have their own large family bathrooms, Naugatuck Valley Mall didn’t really have its own bathrooms (at least they weren’t visible to me) so it was up to the stores to provide their own,and boy were they cramped.

  45. I hope I didn’t scar you for life or anything, it’s just sometimes somehow certain things trigger my memory.

    the fountains didn’t have exactly appealing clean looking water all the time,either,and they had frequent times where they drained it dry for cleaning,some days the fountains didn’t even run at all.

    Hey,I’m just telling the truth here, fountains weren’t made to run seems this mall (Bannister Mall) was lucky regarding it’s cleanliness,shame all that effort went to waist now.

    When a mall closes the first things to go are the fountains and planters,then benches,then any remaining fixtures,this is probably done to make room to tear out the floor,I remember the last time I was in the old Waterbury mall,that the contractors were starting to tear out the brick tiles and were rolling them up,and that some patches of the walkway were missing exposing bare concrete and that some parts of the wall were bare where the shingled roofs used to be,it was a very poetic dismantling but it was gut wrenching to see,it felt so empty.

    Strangely enough I think there were talks of renovating for the first time in years, but it didn’t take long to realize that it was highly improbable to do since the mall had ZERO long-staying tenants.

    (I think they were planning to paint the walls buttercup yellow, and have like plain square tiles,colored in white,beige,or gray I think, but it would require,the removal of everything that gave the mall character, This would make sense because the previous owners Star Ceruzzi had sold it to General Growth Properties which would have explored all possible options before deciding to demolish the mall, either way the mall at it was, was toast.)

  46. Sad, sad, sad.

    I grew up in South Kansas City, 5 minutes from Bannister Mall, and frequently visited there several times a month. I can vividly remember Hypermart and the Benjamin Plaza shops opening in 1990. It was a BIG deal for the area, and the Bannister Mall/Benjamin Plaza shopping center was THE place to visit in the South Metro. Hypermart was a sight to behold. It was not only a Wal-Mart, but it had a full food court, an Aladdin’s Castle arcade, and about 20-25 other smaller shops (Lenscrafters, haircut places, etc.). However, as the area declined, so did the shape of the Wal-Mart. The food court, arcade, and other luxuries lasted about 2 years, and in 1995 or so, Hypermart was converted into a regular Wal-Mart supercenter.

    Three things caused the death of not only Bannister Mall, but the entire Benjamin Plaza complex.

    First and foremost, Metro Bus stops were frequently placed throughout the area, allowing many, many low income residents to buy a bus ticket and come on down. Even in 1990, if you drove 5 minutes to the northwest of the mall area, you would be in the heart of the ghetto. It wasn’t just BLACK people (although they were the majority), many white and other ethnic races boarded those buses as well. It’s about LOW INCOME, people who don’t have a lot of money. And when you have the epitomy of the low income retail store (Wal-Mart) with 35 (at least) metro bus stops within 3 miles of it, well, if you build it, they will come.

    With low income shoppers comes low sales, and upscale businesses such as Stein Mart and several mall stores slowly trickeled away, and most of the spots stayed vacant. A Just For Feet shoestore took over the Kids R Us building in the mid 90’s (to be fair, Toys R’ Us corporately shut down ALL Kids R’ Us’s), and there was literally a line into the building……to play basketball on the basketball court. Oh yeah, people bought, or should I say, stole shoes, too. Eventually they had to have TWO (yes, two) full fledged KC police officers guarding the door to stop the fights and shoplifting. Everytime you would go into Best Buy, every video game kiosk had about 6 kids crowded around it, loitering. The Rap section of CD’s was twice the size of a regular Best Buy’s, and was right in the front of the store. I’m not trying to be prejudiced, I’m just stating the facts. Best Buy was the victim of a fire about 3 years ago, and they decided to just close the store down, rather than reopen it after a renovation. That speaks volumes.

    The second thing that caused the demise was in 1994 or so, due to several parking lot attacks at the mall, about a dozen yellow canopied security guard stands were installed. It was the top story on the evening news and on the front page of the KC Star the next morning. You can just imagine what it did for the mall’s image. To make matters worse, those stations were abandoned and vacant within 2 years, and TORN DOWN near the end of the 90’s.

    The final thing that caused the death of Bannister Mall: Scared white people. It’s true–white families (and maybe even some black ones) moved to Lees Summit in droves in the mid 1990’s, and now are moving to Raymore and Johnson County, to get away from all the scary black people in south Kansas City. Again, I’m just stating the facts here, folks.

    They could have cracked down on most of this, but that would entail cries of racism and sterotyping, and we can’t have that, so the area died.

    A Prediction: The potential of a Kansas City Wizards soccer stadium (and surrounding shops) is an enigma. It will be built in Olathe Kansas, just like all the rich white people want, for their kids to go play soccer while mom sits in the bleachers sipping her latte, talking about how much her toddler loves watching Shrek in their Yukon Denali. To think that they would put a soccer stadium in the heart of the ghetto is a joke. If it ends up in Missouri anywhere, it will be in the 40 HWY section of Independence, right near the soon opening Bass Pro Shops–that was supposed to go in at Bannister Mall 5 years ago.

    I am truly saddened to see the mall go–it’s like a piece of my childhood being locked away forever. If I die, and get the chance to relive my life however I want, it will be in the present day, but in the 1990 version of South Kansas City, before it all went wrong.

  47. They opened they day I was born!! And I clearly remember by the time I was in middle school it was already in decline. So sad because they really had some fun shops.

  48. DEB is one that I remember. I think they even used to have one of the Cokie Factory stores- cna’t think of nay more right now, supposed to be working 🙂

  49. I loved Cookie Factory Bakery! I always went to the one at Cherryvale Mall with my parents as a kid, in Rockford. There was also one at Woodfield in Schaumburg, IL. They apparently still exist at Oak Park Mall and Independence Center. I guess I never realized there were apparently a KC-based chain.

  50. Yes I still love Cookie Factory! When I do go to the mall, I always try to get a cookie- they are so good!!!

  51. RIP Bannister Mall.

    JimmyHendricks put the nail on the head about the demise of Bannister Mall. You can call it prejudice or whatever but it is TRUE.

    I was getting ready to start high school when the mall opened. Before the mall opened, my family and I shopped at other malls. It was nice to have a mall nearby when Bannister Mall opened up in August 1980. I spent a lot of hours there. I remember going to the movies and to FunFactory. I remember the shopping. I ate at a lot of restaurants in the mall. I had my first legal drink, a margarita, at Annie’s Santa Fe when I turned 21. I went shopping until the mid 1990s. Then I stopped going because a lot of the stores were leaving. Every now and then, I would go to Jones or Dillards. I can recall how many times I have been in the mall in the last eight years…. all on one hand! The last time I was in a store in the mall was when Sears closed. The sale sucked and I didn’t even walk out into the main part of the mall. The Bannister Mall I had known was long gone. It started dying in the mid 1990s.

    I pretty much stopped shopping at the Best Buy after I was approached by a black guy in October 2000. It happened at the register and the idiots at Best Buy refused to do anything about it. It was pretty scary. I never went back in that store without another person with me. I also never made a major purchase there. In fact, I pretty much try to avoid Best Buy.

  52. I am of my favorite places in the world is closing tomorrow. Bannister Mall in Kansas City. They say they cant stay open due to lack of national stores. I used to work at this mall last summer and had some of the best times of my life in the mall. The mall could have been saved if they would havd had a better mall manager. Mary Norman was the mall manager and while shes a nice lady shes very unprofessional. Her son in law was the head of security and I think he drove off more customers than anything else. Mary and him refused to accept that Bannister Mall was no longer a suburban mall but an urban mall and spent more time making sure things were good for mall walkers that spent no money in the mall than the customers of the mall. Case in point, one morning one of my employes was coming to work at the mall and was stopped at the door by security because we opened at 9am and he had to be at work by 9am but the mall didnt offical open until 10am but was open for mall walkers at 8am. There was lots of mall walkers coming in without being stopped and my employee protested being stopped and was threatened by security to be put out of the mall. When security came to my office, Mary Normans son in law said that Edwin was stopped because he looked like the type of person they try to keep out of the mall. What was the diffrence between Edwin and the mall walkers who were coming in with no problem?? Age and skin color. The mall walkers were mostly white and over 40 while Edwin was Black and only 20. Why does this bother me so much? The mall walkers were free loaders. They spent no money at the mall and left before stores even opened.Edwin on the other hand worked at a business in the mall that paid rent to be there.This is only one example of what was wrong with Bannister mall. Bannister Mall is a beautiful mall thats less than 30 years old yet its being shuttered…why?? They have 145 spaces out of that 145 spaces only 50 are rented.. but is that a reason to give up and shutter the mall forever.. I think not. Look,with the walmart gone that area of Kansas City needs a supermarket..why not get a good marketing director and recruit a supermarket for the old Dillards space on the lower level. Hire a good telemarketer and get them on the phones with businesses trying to get them to move into the mall…accept the fact that Bannister is an urban mall and market it as such.. Why let a whole mall close and cause 50 businesses to be displaced and hundreds of jobs lost all over Mary Norman not being an effective mall manager.Come on Spigel properties…step up to the plate!!!

  53. Finish Line was still fully stocked yesterday

  54. Does anyone think somehow it will reopen again? Thats such a beatiful mall its really a lost treasure. I miss it already.

  55. have any malls come back from the dead?

  56. Not that I know of..but if they converted the old sears into a grocery store on the main level it could.Perhaps put a call center in the upper floors of the sears for outbound telemarketing and put in around 300 work stations adding about 350 jobs to the area and then reopen the JC penny as an outlet store like Dirty dons in raytown and make the dillards into office suites and then turn the jones store into a gym. Then with some things to drive people to the mall you could reopen it piece by piece. I am sure foot locker would come back they had a great business there and some of the space could be made offices in the lower level down where First data marketing and Kays jwerely was. Then allow the previous tenants that want to reopen to reopen on the upper level as close to the food court area as possible..Then convert the lower level to offices for Doctors, telemarketing etc. Its on the bus line so I think it would be great for call centers etc. that would cause people with jobs to be in the mall daily and would create a need for the food court. Offer businesses that would like to move in the mall for business 3 months free rent with a 1 year lease to fill all the vacant stores.Get a good office staff to promote the mall and that place would do great. I also think a church could locate where the theater was..they did that at Blue ridge.I am telling you.. I could be saved…and profitably saved. They just needed better management.

  57. I don’t see it ever being reopened strictly as a shopping mall. It failed as that, and no one will entrust their business (at least major businesses) in what is regarded as a troubled, or “dying” area. Letting small, independently owned tenants (Like what the mall had at the end) would definitely happen, but would not last long, and would be like a bandaid on a bullet hole.

    I can see it being part shopping center, part office complex, though. Like the above poster said, it would be very easy to convert one of the big department stores into a call center, or some sort of office building. A call center would be logical, though.

    If the Wizards stadium idea DOES end up happening, I really, really hope they somehow salvage at least part of the mall building. It’s a wonderfully beautiful mall, and even though it would require some touching up (apparently the escalators stopped working eariler this year), it would be entirely possible to make the “retail shops” that the Wizards stadium idea entails within part of the existing mall itself.

    However, the whole “mall” idea is going out of style–people want one stop shopping and want to go directly into the store they want, rather than walk to get there–and I can see the entire Benjamin Plaza complex being demolished and they start from scratch.

    But, they have so much existing (yet empty) retail space that it would be a great cost saving measure if they just used it, rather than tear it all down.

    I would personally tear down the old Wal-Mart and Montgomery Ward buildings (which are NEVER going to get tenants to take over their massive walls) and build the stadium on THAT land. It would create a fantastic view from 71 highway. Tear down the east side of the shopping center (former Stein Mart, Circuit City) for parking if you have to. It would make much more sense to tear down two gigantic buildings-that would cost a ton to rent-than tear down an entire mall, that can house many tenants

    I’d make the south side of the mall, closest to Bannister Road, (the old Dillards, the old Sears) an office complex, rent out the upper levels to one company and the lower level to another, or get some giant company to take over both (Cerner, Comcast, etc.). Give employees discounts on Wizards tickets and to surrounding shops. Keep the food court, and get some major tenants (McDonald’s, Taco Bell “Express”, Sbarro, Panda Express, etc). to fill in (again, giving employees of the “offices” discounts).

    RE-OPEN THE THEATERS!!! Re-OPEN Annie’s Santa Fe (possibly under another name) as a SPORTS BAR for the soccer fans. Turn the “flea market” (the old JC Penney) into a Target or some other department store. Filling in the remaining mall shops shouldn’t be too hard if everything else works. Possibly give the final mall tenants who just had to leave an opportunity to come back, give them some sort of deal. The abandoned restaruants are well, still there, and can be re-inhabited by new tenants.

    For a perfect example of how it can work, look at the Legends shopping center by the Kansas Speedway. Now, take out the speedway, and you have a fantastic shopping center, with theaters, and it’s directly adjacant to the T-Bones baseball stadium. While it’s an outdoor shopping center, it’s very much like a mall–you have to walk to get to where you want to go. And–guess what–employees of the stores get discounts on baseball tickets and many of the businesses share discounts with each other. I know, because I used to work out there.

    All of this must come with a very zero tolerance approach to crime and violence in the area. The Legends fell into that “it’s a violent area” stigma, being in KCK, and they solved it by having a HUGE, very visible security staff. Bannister Mall took it the wrong way–you shouldn’t have to close the theaters because too many people are fighting in them, that’s letting the inmates run the asylum.

    Who knows what the future will bring. I know it will take some sort of huge deal, like a Wizards stadium, to truly save the area. Re-opening as an “Urban” mall will cater to the immediate residents, but not the outside. You have to bring back the people who left, as it’s obvious the remaining customer base wasn’t enough. And you have to make them feel safe–whether it’s true or not, people think the Bannister Mall area is a crime ridden neighborhood. Change their minds

    I don’t know if anything will happen to the mall, but it would be ascinine (sp?) to bulldoze it all and leave a vacant lot. The Wizards stadium (at least the one Olathe proposed) will be about 23,000 seats–about 1/3 the size of Arrowhead. You could hold concerts and other events there, and it’s accessible from all sides of the metro.

    Think of the business, think of the revenue, think of the rebirth. Don’t let the rich people of Johnson county get another big deal they don’t need.

  58. Thats some good ideas to incorporate it into the stadium. I think that for sure a supermarket on the sears side of he mall in the old sears would work. I would think if either Super Saver Food Stores or say Dillions took over that part of the mall and then have the stadium like the above poster said the rest would fill up and it would be unstopable.

  59. why can’t they at least have those gun shows at the mall?

  60. I live 2 1/2 to 3 miles from the area. It pains me to see all the empty buildings. Places where I used to shop and eat.. All gone. I still say tear down everything and give it back to Benjamin Ranch. Let’s face it…. That area is dead and it is never coming back to life. What a waste!

  61. One thing that stands out on the mall is the Macy’s, which is a spitting image of the Macy’s-owned Davison’s stores that opened around the same time in Atlanta. In fact, the now long closed Davison’s/Macy’s at Shannon Mall also opened on August 6, 1980 and is a perfect replica of that. It is so very weird seeing that Dillard’s sign on an obvious R.H. Macy store design from that period.

    I also must add: I thought that the Taylor stores remained a division of Macy’s into the 70’s or 80’s much like Davison’s in Atlanta. I looked online and apparently they disappeared in the 1940’s. Does anybody know much about the Taylor stores aside from the buyout by Macy’s and eventual selling to Dillard’s?

  62. I’m still open, mall is letting me stay until I find a new place

  63. I’ll miss Bannister, ’cause I went there when I was little and saw these animatronic dinosaurs and ice age animals put on display… I still remember it ^-^ Even though I never shopped there..

  64. Expect Henry Whichard to buy this Mall if the Wizards don’t and the stem cell initiative is repelled (Stowers owns property near the mall but has put off expansion plans)

  65. Found Label Scar on Man…isn’t it impressive to see these many comments. All of them have their own take. I grew up @ Bannister Mall as many here did. I still remember the United Colors of Benetton down stairs from the escalators. To this day, that image of Benetton being in Kansas City Mo, in the 1980’s — still blows my mind.

    I also met Axl Rose and the rest of Guns N Roses in 1987, right by the food court/cinema area. They gave me their autographs on napkins from Original Pizza. GNR was opening for AeroSmith that year. Again, i also worked at Sears, The Jones Store, and The Gap from 1987-1991. Yes, Bannister was one of the top 10 malls in the USA at one point in the 1980’s. Yes, it even won design awards.

    Yes, the same investors that owned Oak Park Mall and Bannister mall at one point. After, the success of Bannister and the decline in the surrounding area — they decided to sell Bannister at critical mass and focus on the new suburbia called “Johnson County”. It was a safe bet. They let the new owners fail miserably. Those of you that say its’ the city leaders fault. Absolutely 100% true. They will bring back South East KCMO — when its worth nothing and sell it for more than it was ever worth. Because of all the history that surrounds the area. Buyers be Aware…

    So many memories…I took my last walk through both levels of that relic for the last time in March of 2005. For the heck of it. It seemed as though, it was one of those weird dreams from the past…

  66. From a resident that STILL lives near the defunct Bannister Mall:

    A plan is to be presented to the KC-MO City Council right now to redevelop that area into a new KC Wizards soccer stadium- hotel- offices and a NEW retail area for suburbanites with no ‘street smarts’ to avoid…


  67. MarX-
    hope yer positive vibe brings truth. KCMO has bigger fish to fry though — than the bannister area. hold em’ though within 15-20 years it might find its way back? God Bless!!!!

  68. I happened to miss Bannister Mall as a dead-mall photo study. I was afraid of parking my car in an empty mall parking lot for the time it would take to get some photos. I, too, spent HOURS at Bannster Mall when it opened. I remember standing in line for Poltergeist and Indiana Jones! And let me tell you…those lines were LONG!!! ZeZos Magic shop was a fun place. I took lots of dates to the, at that time, it was a safe place to hang out. I will always have the good memories, BUT, I won’t miss the mall, itself.

  69. Some former tenants want the mall to reopen with cheap rent next to the proposed soccer stadium to serve what they call the “more affluent African American” community

  70. This mall died because the local police department and private security were unable to secure the premises without violating civil rights!

    That is the bottom line.

  71. will they be able to savage those sculptures if they actually demolish the mall?

  72. Probably depends on if someone wants them. I know in NJ that during the early 1990s renovation of the Livingston Mall, they took out the 3 large sculptures at the ends and center of the mall and they are now located at the Riker Hill Art Park.

  73. I think Oak Park mall has some similar sculptures, possibly by the same artist. The Hillcrest Bank building near the mall also similar sculptures.

  74. What’s the point in reopening the mall with more small businesses? Even the thrift store across the street closed. This area can’t even support a thrift store.

  75. Open the mall back up and let small busineeses and offices open there. Put a couple of call centers in there for telemarketing and employ workers from the area and open a suprmarket in part of the mall and watch the area flourish again.

  76. Shad, the mall (in its current form) is dead. Those types of businesses might have a place in the redevelopment if it actually happens. Are you a part of the “Save Bannister Mall” group?

  77. They might tear down part of the mall like Ward Parkway

  78. Where did C Withers catering move to?

  79. Reopen the mall with new management. This city needs a Chocolate Mall. People shouldn’t have to drive to the suburbs or transfer to several buses to get to Foot Locker

  80. I’m a resident of a suburb about a dozen miles south of Bannister. I’ve heard numerous rumors, from folks living near the mall and tenants of the mall, that the mall and surrounding shopping areas will be demolished in order to build housing. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s the only “plan” I’ve heard. I’ve heard nothing about a stadium (but that doesn’t mean it’s true).

    One thing I’d like to say is that I think the reputation for crime there was greatly exaggerated. I’m not saying crime never happened there, but I went to the mall quite a lot during the years it was open and never once witnessed anything untoward in either the mall or the parking lots. Never did I feel the area was unsafe. (and if you’re wondering, I’m a white female). So, I’m not sure I can buy into the idea that opening up the 71 Highway corridor had that great an affect on the mall. I think the media did, however, by blowing the crime stories out of proportion.

    But that’s neither here nor there, because the mall is indeed closed, except perhaps for the flea market in the lower level, which I’ve heard is able to stay until the end of the year.

    Whether they raze the building to build housing, a stadium or whatever, anything will be better than having a huge empty mall sitting there.

  81. There used to be a quid pro quo that news papers and tv didn’t mention crime at shopping malls. I can remember serious crimes in malls (a stabbing when I happened to be at Parmatown Mall in a middle class, white suburb of Cleveland in the 70s) that never made it into the media. This began to change in the late 70s and has the tv coverage, in particular has increased as tv news, itself, has become ever more tabloid-ish. There are many crimes, like drug dealing, that still go unreported although I can say the first time I ever saw drug dealing in public was at Great Lakes Mall in the white middle class suburb of Mentor, Ohio in the late 60s.

    The unspoken appeal of malls, early on, was “safety”. They rose up as people began to feel less safe in downtown business areas and older neighborhood shopping districts. Most of the fear was grossly overblown, but there’s a segment of the population that likes to live under the delusion that nothing can happen to them, as well as people who take urban legends as facts. The 70s/80s malls, in particular, used a fortress type of architecture that was both cheap and consistent with a lot of construction of that era that emphasized “security”. Over time, bad things have happened at a great many malls and for every one who continued to visit these places w/o concern, there were others who were too afraid to go back. eventually, stores close and even people who are okay with a mall will go elsewhere because the selection deteriorates.

  82. I found this web site by mistake. It has been 15 + years since I had been to Bannister Mall. Thanks for the pictures! I had forgotten how beautiful it was. I remember that we were so excited to have a mall closer to us. We used to have to go to Kansas. The Tiny Treasures store was always a must to stop at. My yorkie drinks out of a Hello Kitty cup from there. (the cup has to be well over 20 yrs. old) It is the only thing he will drink out of! I remember their grand opening. I think it was in front of what was Macy’s, they were letting kids put their hand prints in the concrete on the sidewalk. Anyone know if they kept that? I am also surprised to hear that K-Mart is still across the street. I remember shopping there long before Bannister Mall. Thanks again for the pics. It was a nice stroll down memory lane.

  83. I don’t think Bannister Mall should reopen. I think there should be a strip mall to replace the mall, if it’s Foot Locker you want. Maybe, they could make it a nicer strip mall, add a fountain. Make it a lifestyle center. I agree with the article, Bannister Mall has lived its course and it would be embarrassing to reopen it with local businesses only to have it close in a few years.

  84. It really breaks my heart to see that Bannister is gone. I grew up in that mall in the late 80’s & early 90’s. As a matter of fact I worked at the Jones Store at the mall until 2001. I have lots of fond memories at that place. I now live in NYC and haven’t been to KC in over 5 years. The last time I was there I walked threw the mall. It was a shadow of the great place it once was, only a few local minority owned stores were there. I remember in the 90’s there wasn’t anything you couldn’t find at Banister, it even had an Osco drug store inside. Oak Park or Independece Center could not compete with bannister. As for crime I never had any problems. I used to live at Hilltop Village apartments on 87th St. and walk to both Bannister and Hypermart during the day and at night for years and never had a problem. Another interesting little known fact, Bannister was the largest mall not only is KC, but in Missouri.

  85. OK. I’d like to know a bit more about this mall.

    1) Anyone have a list of storefronts over the ages?

    2) I think it was to be named “Three Trails Center” after it netted Bass Pro Shops. For example, Mall of Memphis was to be “Memphis Park Galleria”, but never happened.

    Lessee, there was something else, but I forgot to say…

  86. As an update for this mall, it is part of a planned re-development including a soccer stadium for the wizards, some tournament soccer fields, about 700,000 square feet of retail (not enclosed), a couple of office parks, and possibly a hotel or three. Not really saving the mall, per se, but possibly the area surrounding it.

  87. the soccer plan is not official (yet), haven’t heard anything about the “Save Bannister” group in the past few weeks

  88. I used to work at Bannister Mall for many years. I started shortly before JCPenney’s departure and left shortly before The Jones Store shipped out.

    I have some interesting stories.

    (FYI – This place would make an AMAZING haunted house! Even if it was just the old JCPenney building and the old movie theater space.)

  89. I spent so much time at this mall in the 80’s. It really was a second home to me…then, it went bad.


  91. The “Save Bannister Mall” group seems to be made up of only 2 or three people based on news reports and city council meetings,

  92. City Council has approved the plan. The Save Bannister Mall group plans to fight it.

  93. I posted earlier in the year and this mall needs to go. They have “Beware of Dogs” signs up to keep the copper thieves away. The area of South Kansas City that Bannister is located in is the sole reason for the downfall of this mall. All of the money that was in that area moved, north, south, east and west. The busses and HUD completely wiped out SKC and Grandview. I doubt a soccer complex will work there either.

  94. My in-laws live on 98th St. It is SO Dangerous. You can’t even drive down the street. Bannister Mall died right after 1995. The THUGS showed up-bang! Run for your life whitey. I did and I am NOT going back. The only Hood more dangerous than around the “B” Mall is inner city around Chestnut.

  95. Are you a troll Chuck? Most of the thugs don’t even live around there. They were bused in on the Troost bus line and mall management did not respond well. The thugs have moved to other places in the suburbs like Independence Center and Ward Parkway. The area wasn’t even rich to begin with. As people moved further into Johnson County and Lees Summit, they built stores they and they stopped coming to this mall. This is a working class area. A soccer complex could work with the right management and security

    Anyway, the Save Bannister Mall group has launched a petition to save the mall from destruction. Doubt they will be successful based on their turnout at the City Council meetings

  96. I love reading about all the cool memories of Bannister Mall and the surrounding area. I also worked there around 1990 during Christmas. It was still an amazing mall, but crime was really beginning to stir the place up about then. When the mall first opened, I can remember the kids leaving their handprints in the cement outside of Macy’s. My Mom used to take us to the movies there every saturday too! We’d have lunch at the Olive Garden across the street, or at Annie’s Santa Fe, or the food court (Original Pizza was the best!). To see what has become of the mall is so depressing. It’s like seeing your childhood home in shambles. You remember all the good memories hanging out with friends, all the while, never knowing that one day it would end.

    Like many of you, a friend and I took one last walk around the mall before they closed for good in May. We had fun trying to name all the original storefronts…The Wild Pair, Tiny Treasures, Zezo’s Magic Castle, Victoria’s Secret, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Express, Fun Factory, etc. And reminisced about our friends who also worked at the mall and would take breaks together at the food court. The best damned food court in town!! If only there were some way we could have captured all of those memories and taken part of the mall home with us that day. That’s the fear of seeing the mall demolished. Something that became part of us will be destroyed with it. Everybody who lived in the KC area has left something inside that building, and now they want to tear it down. It’s extremely saddening.

    There are folks who feel the same way about Metro North Mall, Antioch Mall, and Metcalf South Mall. Beautiful spaces, loaded with our memories, all going downhill fast.

    I’m glad that somebody is at least taking a shot at saving the area. Not sure what good it will do, but I’m glad that people care. I currently work at the Federal Complex on Bannister Road, and like the mall area, it’s just about the end of the road for the few hundred employees left at the facility (yes, hundreds, as opposed to the thousands of employees that used to work there.) Nobody knows what the plans are for the building beyond 2008.

    Anyway, thanks to everyone who posted their stories……It’s been a good trip down memory lane! 🙂

  97. LuvBannisterMall, are you in favor of keeping the mall the way it is with no stores like the Save Bannister Mall group intends to do?

  98. I want to sign that petition, I don’t know where to go to sign up for that, any advice? Bannister mall is worth saving, even in it’s current condition.

  99. Jeff and LuvBannisterMall,
    Are you two part of the Save Bannister Mall? Have you seen the condition of Bannister Mall and Benjamin Plaza lately? It needs to be bulldozed! We don’t need another Indian Springs Marketplace! The small business owners had their chance and failed.

    I am all for the soccer stadium and mixuse. We need life injected back into the area! That area is producing hardly any revenue for the city.

    Resident is exactly right. The criminals did not live in the area. They came in on public transportation. The area has always been a working class one.

  100. The signatures on that petition must be from voters registered in (the city of) Kansas City (MO). They need about 8,500. Don’t think they will be able to get that many. The secretary of that group is a well known slumlord. They haven’t even stated their vision for the mall beyond something like a village or minority business incubator. They haven’t even promised to reopen the mall. The mall will never again be like it was if it does reopen. Sorry.

  101. I think Jeff and LuvBannisterMall are attached to the memories of what the mall once was.

  102. Too little, too late for Tolbert’s “Save the Bannister Mall” group.
    Where was Tolbert when Penny’s, Macy’s, Dillards, Jones , etc. all left and why hasn’t he been trying to “save” the mall since the beginning of the 2000 exodus? He doesn’t even live in the area of Bannister Mall, so why doesn’t he utilize his energies in his own neighborhood?

    I live a mile from the mall, shopped there all the time and hate that we have no where to shop. I am 100% in favor of the soccer-office-retail project that recently passed the City Council. This will revitalize our area like the Speedway revitalized Wyandotte County KS. It’s our turn!!!!

  103. The rent-a-cops at this mall were incompetent. When I was there a few days after Xmas in 98, I smelled someone smoking dope (and the mall was fairly crowded that day)

  104. Over 100 people showed up for a rally in support of redevelopment, today. The Save Bannister Mall group could only get four (4) people.

  105. Watch this and read the pitch article, see why Tolbert wants to keep the mall

  106. I was just a kid growing up in south kansas city in the 70’s. In 1980 Bannister Mall opened and it was a huge deal!! My whole family went for the grand opening weekend. I was 12 years old and looking forward to receiving one of the free diamond necklaces they were giving away at the jewelry store. We left the mall that day with bags of free stuff. There was no other mall like it. From the first weekend it opened I had visions of jumping off the top balcony onto the gigantic white shamrock sculpture and sliding down! My grandfather and his company did all of the beautiful woodwork that so many have commented on. Every time I walked down the stairs I thought of him as my hand ran along the curved wood railing. I went to Hickman and Center high schools and we literally lived at the mall on weekends. The food court, empty now for years, employed all of my friends, and it was standing room only. We stood in lines that stretched out the door to see a movie at the AMC theaters. Our parents never thought twice about dropping us off for the day unsupervised. I left K.C. for collage in 1986, and have visited the area over the last few decades. Over the years my family would relay news around the mall, shootings, robberies, car theft and gangs. I just couldn’t believe such things were happening in a place that use to be so safe. It brings tears to my eyes to see what has happened to a place that was the center of my universe. You really can’t go home again. And for several years I have been to afraid to even drive around there and visit my past. It truly is the end of an era. Treva

  107. 52 times. That’s how many times police have been called to Bannister Mall, to reports of burglary, vandalism, and suspicious persons. Methinks the mall is getting trashed inside. There’s probably dead animals, a noxious smell, graffiti, no glass or copper left, etc.

  108. This was a mall of my childhood, last time I was inside it creaped me out. Nothing was there no shops no people, just that soft muzac playing.

    White flight Killed this mall, and the lack of police. Oh they were there but as responders. That whole area used to be the place to go, venture, k-mart, childrens palace the list goes on and on and one by one they shut down.

  109. I too grew up in this mall. Anyone remember Zozo’s Magic Palace or Olga’s eatery? Kevin Smith wanted to film Mallrats here, but the management said no. That would of been a trip to see Bannister Mall in a feature film. I really liked seeing films here in the 80’s. Bannister Square across the road was a lot of fun also. As a child, I got to meet Maria, Gordon and Big Bird from Seasme Street by the main fountain where they held all of the shows. Good times.

  110. Olga’s still exists, mostly in the Detroit area but two locations are still open on the Illinois side of St. Louis. We had them in northern Illinois as well when I was growing up. I’ve been to the Michigan ones recently, and it’s still pretty good.

  111. I remember when I used to go this mall all the time. First Id go to the food court and get either the pizza place or the cheese steak place. Both were amzing. Then my mom would take me and my family to the arcade(remember that place) and Id play in there for hours. Id browse the video store right next to it aswell. It was a great mall. Then the dang gang bangers took it away. We stopped going there after a gang attack happened there. But I remember going about 4 years ago when they had one of those flea market type deals. I could tell that wasnt the mall it once was.

    Hey, is there any way you can still get in? I wouldnt mind one last look through. Id probably bring a knife and a gun just to be safe lol.


    Go to around the 19-24 and, 58 second marks, and the very end and you will see how bad it was 3 months ago.

    The same station recently (within 2 weeks) has shown another update, and it is even worse.

  113. Yeah, I think I mentioned that earlier about the police being called to the site 52 times and all that…

  114. I am hosting a bike show for Charity, all proceed’s will go to the Ronald McDonald house, and i need a spot to hold this show. How do i contact someone who “owns” the Bannister Mall to ask them if we can use their Parking Lot????

  115. Sorry, please contact me at but please hurry, for i am looking hard for a spot, and i dont want to miss out on this parking lot.

  116. Baninster’s done; stick a fork in it and see but I think we can start eating pretty soon.

    Seriously, I hate to see childhood memories die for anyone. My mall, Macon Mall in GA, is dying. I used to love it. My sister transferred to the Sears from the Third Street store. I went there every weekend and it was a mix of affluent and working classes. My college friends worked at Ruby Tuesday in the Eighties. It was my hangout for some time. At one point I went to the mall almost every day. I loved the Food Court, the coffee shop (Barnie’s) and the record stores (Camelot, Record Bar). The bookstores weren’t bad either (Books A Million was across US80 in an old Piggly Wiggly).

    Months ago it lost one anchor and plans are to put a tavern theater (watch movies, eat, get drunk) in its place. JCPenney and Sears might hang on, with Sears owning the property it sits on. The rest of the complex has lost restaurants such as the Picadilly and lost many stores.

    Macon Mall was bordered by a slummy area on one side then a marginal area went downhill to its south and west.. The city limits of Macon have gotten mostly unlivable due to crime. So I predict that Dillard’s will go and the mall, in seven to ten years, get torn down. A lifestyle center by General Growth Properties, The Shoppes at River Crossing, opened a month ago. It is still being constructed and caters to the aflluent who still live in North Bibb and Monroe Counties near Macon, GA. But a Belk’s and (rumored) Sears are planned for the nearby area.

  117. I’m curious as to what the stores were in this place. As of October 2006, someone on said “there are still over 100 businesses in it and i would appreciate it if you could please point that out” but someone else said “there’s definitely not 100 stores in it”. So, how many stores were there and what were they?

  118. I was the one that said there wasn’t that many. About a year before it closed, the only chain stores were 3 Foot Lockers and an EyeMasters (or Lenscrafters?) at the Jones end. It was hard to guestimate how many stores were actually operating. There were at least a couple dozen, but some said they were coming back (such as June 2005 — keep in mind this was March 2006 by the time I saw it), others were full of merchandise and at least one opened while I walked by during the middle of the day. A couple of the stores I remember is a cell phone place, and dollar store. There were a lot of urbanwear places too it seems.

  119. Where 3 Foot Lockers a Kid’s Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, and a regular Footlocker

  120. We were visiting KC last weekend and were very freaked out by the “I Am Legend Mall”…The creepy thing to us was not just the mall is abandoned, but every store, every restaraunt on every street around there is abandoned as well. As we were driving thru the area looking for a place to eat, we were stunned by how totally desolate it is over there. It is as if a disease spread through the area and killed all inhabitants. Did I say it was creepy? Its like every sci-fi story you’ve ever heard of, only it is real. The scale of the ruin is enormous, what a complete waste of human effort and resources. I know! Open it up to settlement, like they did in the Oklahoma Land Run! Better yet, nuke it.

  121. Okie Visitor took the words right out of my mouth.

    I too visited the area this past weekend, and felt like I was in the KC version of “I Am Legend”

    Before reading all the comments, and getting the background on the area, my wife and I wondered what took place to cause such a mass, and what appeared to us at the time, a sudden exodus.

    Its really sad that this happened, it looks like it must have been really something in its hayday

  122. It was gradual death of about 10 years. Many stores in the area only stayed to wait out the end of their leases

  123. We just came from a shopping trip from Kansas City was sad to see that the Bannister mall was closed. We all were shock. Weeds were all over. It was like a building in the middle of the desert. Just Shocking and Sad. My family loves to come to Kansas City for shopping.

  124. Poor urban planning and continuous delusions of revitalizing the South KC area and piping hoods from the northern ghettos of downtown KC via the Metro Bus Line will ensure the demise of South KC.

    Has anyone seen 71 HWY in the Red Bridge and Longview area !!!!??

    Go to Grandview and take your Kevlar and extra ammo (which most Belton and Raymore residents already kept in their cars even before they needed to) and the reasons are crystal clear.

    This is why the midwest is laughed at, this is why Missouri and Kansas are (rightfully so) considered intellectual vacuums.

  125. P.S. One of the real tragedies of Kansas City, there is a 1% earnings tax on all residents no matter where they derive their income and anyone who works in KC no matter where they live. This is the same city that hands out sweetheart TIF deals to any developer with a checking account and new pickup truck while the potholes are large enough to have their own zip code.
    Plus, we elect a mayor Marty Funkhouser who has a staffer that is a member of the Minute Man Group and refuses to bow to pressure since he is principled despite the cancellations of several Hispanic groups in protest who relocated their recurring conventions to other cities. The Mayor doesn’t have any pricinples when it comes to preserving his downtowns shaky future and driving away convention revenue for the sake of his staffers affiliation.
    But at least you can feel safe from speeders since the over zealous cops love their lasers and Tazers and if you don’t “look right” when you get pulled over from the laser then you get to feel the Tazer.

    KC should consider making Detroit, MI their sister city and rename it New Detroit, because just like that one proud and storied city, it is gonna take more than OCP and RoboCop to turn it around.

    Ce le vie KC.

  126. I grew up in KCMO and lived less than 1/2 a mile from Bannister Mall. I remember the day it opened, all the stores had stands and the smell was awesome from the food court. It’s sad that such a big part of my childhood will be gone forever. I was back in my old neighborhood a few years ago just to see how it was doing and I will never go back again. I thought I was going to be killed. The entire area is ghetto now. That is what killed the mall, when I left back in 1986 the area was starting to get bad. They had to have the cops patrol the mall because of the crime.

  127. Hi: I’m guessing there’s few people here as “attuned” to what’s going on in South KC as I am. I am a teacher at Ruskin High, which is only minutes from the Bannister site. Bannister died a long slow death. First, it began to decline in the early 90’s due to crime in the area–many kids from the inner city (where there were no stores) came out to the closest mall on the metro. That caused whites to become spooked and start frequenting Independence Center on I-70 instead. Next came the major anchor tenants moving to new digs at some of the major “mixed use” developments that the “new urbanism” plan has sprouted. Do you notice no one really builds big indoor malls any more? The area was in decline due to older homes and much rental property, and that killed off a lot of the satellite businesses. By 2006 there were only about 40 stores that were “open” and many of them had really weird hours of operation. The mall was shut down for good last year. There is hope though. The KC Wizards MSL team is trying to build their stadium on Bannister’s property. They want it and a large retail/office complex as well as a 250 bed hotel and a bunch of junior soccer fields. It would take up much more than the footprint of the mall–it would take out most of the satellite area as well and start fresh. It’s apparently a done deal–Lane 4 properties is just waiting for the state to sign off on the final TIF for them to start demolishing. It can’t happen soon enough. I too grew up at Bannister, and I am saddened every time I see what was once a great place to go. Anyone remember Annie’s Santa Fe? But it’s been a long time since then, and the indoor mall era is over. There are only two viable ones left in KC. The outdoor rage is understandable–easier parking, much prettier landscaping, a lot of restaurants prefer their brand be “seen” instead of people having to guess they’re there….Keep your fingers crossed for us–we need the new influx of $$$ and hope.
    The mall itself, if you want to see it, does look creepy. The windows are mostly boarded, there have been homeless people and kids in it, the escalators and some of the fixtures have been ripped out–it reminds me of an abandoned house now.

  128. I just had to also say, after reading one of James’ posts, that “the schools are bad–second only in low academic performance to KC MO”….do you know anything about schools? We service who we get, and we get a lot of troubled families here. We lose many of our best students to private schools like Rockhurst, O’Hara, St. Pius, St Teresa’s etc.; however, we work our tails off for the ones we still serve. Our schools are FULLY state accredited, and we met AYP in math and english last year despite the governments giving us less money to work with. This is off subject for a mall post, but the “bad schools” is NOT why this mall shut down. The businesses leaving, the declining schools, the property devaluation, all came from middle income whites leaving the area because of irrational fear. Hold on to your property. Fight for your neighborhood, and join forces with the WONDERFUL african-american community that tries its best here, and we could have a GREAT neighborhood again.

  129. While only being in KC once, the strech of I-70 between the stadiums and downtown seemed completely run down (equally as bad as I-70 through north St. Louis). That would include Blue Ridge. The 435 loop around the metro area goes by Bannister, but doesn’t show the desolation of the area. The only mall we went to was The Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe KS. That place looked nice for an outlet mall but looked like it was headed for a downward slide back in 2004.

  130. Lane 4 has bought the mall, they seem to think they will get TIF funding someday

  131. As a store owner in the last couple years of the Mall and being a business owner since ’93, I recognized the changes for what they were, The economy was going down hill. We could blame its demise on lack of management, which was part of the problem, but the entire Three Trails area was indicators of shifting economy. I applaud the efforts of all those who tried to save her but when companies like Hypermart closes its doors, you know the problem was non reversable. With massive layoffs from Ford and even Sprint around the same period you know a storm was on the horizon but none of us could have ever have imagine that the Bannister area would look the way it does today.
    Kansas City provided me with almost 10yrs of passive income where I took a local tradition to world wide recognition with KC’s love for diamond encrusted “Gold Teeth”. I went from 1 store locally to several nationwide, including wholesale distibution operation, to finally closing the last 1 last week after me and a few other Bannister Mall Merchants saw hope in “Bannister Square” across the street after being displace by its closing. I’ve since moved to FL where the economy is still triving but its not a bed of roses here either as they portray on TV and Movies.
    All we have now are memories and that’s one thing they can’t closedown.
    KC Gold Fronts

  132. This was the place to be on Friday’s and Saturday’s. Meeting up with friends and hanging out. Fun Factory was the best – Galaga, Donkey Kong, Centipede & Pacman ….. I moved to California in the 90’s, and most of the neighbors, friends, and relatives I kept in contact with were talking about the decline back then.

    There are a lot of memories I’ll cherish. But maybe it’s time for the Bannister
    area to get some fresh development going.

  133. It looks like tearing it down is imminent. I saw on the news recently that the mall was being used as building collapse scenario training for fire departments… yet it was still standing at that time…

  134. Just spent the last 2 weeks at the mall doing Structural Collapse Training scenarios for Kansas City Fire, Kansas City Kansas Fire, Olathe Fire, and Central Jackson County Fire (Blue Springs,MO.) The place is a wreck, thieves have made off with every thing not bolted down, and then some. Not a store window left, and many walls gone. We did a lot of Breeching & Breaking activies and had 11 rescues a day to complete, the place looks like swiss cheese. The Building is HUGE, but it days are over. We were told the dozers are coming the week of the 21st of NOV to get started to “bring her down”.
    I couldn’t help but stand alone from time to time and hear shoppers still in the Mall, It was kinda creepy. Enjoy your memories!!! You wouldn’t want to see it now!

  135. I’d like to see pictures of the inside of Bannister Mall. It’s probably like DSM…is there lots of graffiti?

  136. I graduated from Ruskin and have lived in the area my entire life. I used to go to Bannister Mall and Benjamin Plaza all the time. It’s pathetic to see what it has become. If they would’ve managed it better and upped security to levels appropriate and if the neighboring businesses actually did background checks on their workers, it may have been different. And if not, at least for a while.

    I have a lot of memories of the mall. I remember as a kid I would throw pennies in the fountain. I remember getting my ears pierced at Afterthoughts when I was 10 (my younger sister also had her ears pierced at Afterthoughts). I got my first actual pair of high heels from that Sears. The dress I wore at high school graduation? DEB (a lot of my favorite clothes came from that store). I bought a lot of my favorite shirts ever at Rainbow. I also got my prom dress at DEB (and my clutch and boa to go along with it at Claire’s). I also bought many a BSB poster at the Claire’s along with earrings that I still own. A shirt at Spencer’s along with glow-in-the-dark stars to cheer me up. I also loved Mr. Bulky’s for the candy. I bought a lot of beanies there and at Hallmark too. Ferrell’s Hallmark was a nice store too. I also used to scope out rare import CDs at Camelot Music. And my, did they have good imports, from import albums to import singles. Meanwhile, my boyfriend’s memories of the mall are firmly attached to the arcade next door. My 2nd older sister used to work at Original Greek when she was in high school. Then she worked at that Sears when she was in college. I bought my first CD player from that Sears too. She said the food court started going downhill when someone from Panda Express found a roach in their eggroll. When she worked at Sears, someone stole her tags and another guy took up stalking her with his 5 year old boy in tow, so she started dressing frumpy and wore a fake ring on her finger. Nonetheless, the mall had special importance to her because she could work there for a while, and get our christmas presents there without having to expend any extra gas money or anything, as well as get lunch in the food court (usually from her old work, she never did once trust panda express after the roach incident).

    The last time I went to the mall, was in 2006 for the jewelry repair place. It was desolate minus a few stores dedicated to grillz, chains, and various things like that, aside from the flea marketplace. I saw a barbershop. Apparently they didn’t have spell-check when they printed out a paper sign. It read “Barber on DUITY.” Yes, the place went down the tubes. I knew for good it wasn’t going to hang on much longer with the anchor stores saying goodbye and the remaining places mostly tailoring to an audience that many affluent people wouldn’t understand spending money to be in.

    I miss what that mall used to be, but there’s no way in hell that you could breathe life into it now in its degraded state. All that’s feasible to do in bringing life to the area would be demolishing the mall and a the empty stores in the surrounding area and starting over with something new. (Kudos to the few remaining businesses in the area for hanging on, especially Burlington. I went there not too long ago, and they do seem to take security and crime very seriously)

  137. I (or my mom) used to go here to shop for most of my school clothes back in the mid 80’s. This was probably the biggest mall in the area at the time. The last time I was there was around ’97 or ’98. I had taken my kids to see the Rugrats characters in the mall. There was also a Just For Feet store I used to go to next door. With places like Zona Rosa and The Legends and similar shopping areas, most folks probably aren’t going to the mall. I went to Independence Center a couple of months ago, and it doesn’t seem to be doing too bad. I can’t say the same for Metro North Mall though. Many of the stores in there are empty. Bannister does hold some memories for me though. I just think it was built in the wrong spot.

  138. You’re right: it is bad. Vandals have gotten in, destroying glass and any merchandise leftover, it’s full of graffiti, too.

  139. Regarding dggsdsgds’s link to the pictures at

    I can’t believe that’s the fun, vibrant mall I used to go to when I was in high school and early college, circa ’84-’90.

    Tear that thing down – that is not Bannister Mall. The only place Bannister Mall evidently exists anymore is in my memory. (…and a few other peoples’ evidently.)

  140. I agree Mike D in Lee’s Summit. That’s not Bannister Mall. (but thanks for the pics)

    I lived and went to school in that area of town from the late 80’s to mid 90’s. Friday nights and Saturdays THIS was the place to see and be seen. This is where you came with your boy/girlfriend. I worked at Gloria Jeans in 94 and 95. It was so much fun. The food court was great – the place was packed – Christmas was CRAZYNESS – and the “bad stuff” was just starting to take shape. Nothing ever happened to me, but we always watched our backs, parking under streetlights, etc.

    I remember the movie theatre and how it always let out after the mall closed and they put up these metal “curtains” so you had to exit the mall after the movie.

    I remember this mall had the best Penny’s. Loved Deb and Tiny Treasures! I wish there was a Hello Kitty store in KC now!

    I loved BMall and went there all the time. But seeing it like this and driving past it frequently, is very sad. Just get rid of it…

    The Hypermart was also great! HUGE. There was also a Phar-Mor over there.

  141. how sad, they should REALLY do sumthin to try and save this interesting place, if not, at least place like a memorial in the mall’s honour. 🙁

  142. Mostly just cosmetic damage but sad to see nonetheless after just a year and a half of being closed.

  143. Right… those are the ones I was referring to; vandalism in the 18 months after the mall closing. The Flickr pics are from when the mall was still open.

  144. Or right after it closed evidently! (which I didn’t notice the first time I looked at the Flickr set).

    This forum needs an EDIT feature.

  145. Fence is up around the mall

  146. I worked at Bannister Mall for 7 years, beginning in Sept 1980 at Ferrel’s Hallmark… the upstairs store. Later on Ferrel’s also opened a second Hallmark store on the lower level (an unheard of feat of retailing in those days!) and also opened the Tiny Treasures (Hello Kitty) store. I spent time in all three shops while in their employ. The mall was fabulous… so new and upscale in the early 80s. The layout suggested a winding “street” filled with businesses having different architectural features. The anchors all looked very similar, but the individual smaller retail establishments seemed to have their own personalities unlike their same stores in other nearby malls. When you were standing at one end, or even in the middle, it wasn’t possible to see straight down to the ends. This was accomplished by the strategic placement of the plantings, railings and stairs/escalators. I think it added to the allure… you wanted to keep on walking to see what shop would “pop up” around the bend!
    In the early 80s, it truly was “the mall” in KC! I remember many times when the huge parking lot would be totally filled. I went to work for Sears, the south-end anchor at Bannister in 1985. I met my husband while working there at Sears! He needed a vertical blind, so I sold him one!

    A few years later, he and I were attending a company picnic at the nearby Benjamin Ranch (it was still the horsey ranch with the rodeo site) and the topic of conversation that day was who was going to be transferred to Ohio.

    We relocated to NW Ohio in 1988 (the land of dead malls Southwyck, Northtowne, and Woodville… which is still amazingly hanging on!)

    I never felt unsafe during the years I worked at Bannister Mall but heard in the years after I left that crime was increasing. My brother’s father-in-law worked security there at Bannister and when he first told me that “guard towers” had been erected in the parking lot, I couldn’t believe it! But sadly it was true.

    That this area of Kansas City now has rigor mortis set in is very sad.

    A side note, I also worked at JCP at Blue Ridge Mall (now gone) and also at Independence Center. I still keep in close contact with friends I made during my retailing experiences in KC. As for the latest/greatest malls in KC, I have not been to the new Legends but I have driven around at Zona Rosa on a recent trip. Not sure why these open-air shopping towns are now more popular, especially given the midwest’s ever-present wind chills for 5+ months out of the year. I know there are two new outdoor shopping towns now in flat NW OH, and I’ve not been to either one of them! (At least KC has hills, which tend to block the wind!) Maybe all the “blame” for these “new-fangled malls” should go to the Grand-daddy of All Shopping Districts… The Country Club Plaza. But older is always better, in my book. Its hard to beat that ambience at the Plaza… especially at Christmastime!

    Thanks for all the photos of Bannister Mall. It was kinda like going home again! At least I’ll always have the memories of the years I spent there.

  147. Wow.

    I drove by here the other day to drop off material at the recycling center (South KC’s recycling center is located in the parking lot of the old Wal-Mart), and the first thing that came to my mind was “I am Legend” as well. I (re-)read the comments on here and saw two other comments mention the same thing. I had driven by Bannister mall quite a bit on Bannister road, but the full impact really comes from seeing Benjamin Plaza as well.

    I didn’t grow up here. But, a few things. First, I think that it’s hard to look at this and imagine your own childhood mall meeting the same fate. Second, you look at Ward Parkway Plaza, which in a lot of ways has found its niche, and wonder why Bannister couldn’t have evolved too. Third, I have many friends and colleagues who do great work for Hickman Mills (school district), and who are part of a community who really cares about the area. Certainly not everyone cares (but where on Earth DOES every last person care?)–but there is a core to give hope. To the educators who wrote in here, I say THANK YOU.

    All I can do is pray that the soccer deal goes through and that re-development is successful.

  148. When I would visit my family in independece, it was a treat to go “all the way over to banister ” instead of closer Independence center or even Blue Ridge(although we didnt go there very much after Independence Center opened)Went once in early to mid 90’s, and even though rumours of some of the crime, it was still a functioning mall with really no loss of stores.By the time my husband and I stopped there on a trip to kc for the weekend in about 2005, it was a friday night, most of the outparcel resturant buildings were closed,the parking lot was vacant except for a few groups of people just handing out . Drove to the Dillards side to see if it eas open, and the sign stated it had closed. We decided there was no reason to even go in.Or if there was anything open in it. It looked like a little ghost town. If it wasnt for the banister sign , I wouldnt had even know it was bannister.Sad, considering what it once was less then 30 years ago.

  149. I managed the Bennigans at Bannister Mall from 96 until their lease ran out in 2002. Its amazing that we were never robbed with the late hours we kept at that restaurant. Bennigans was even trying to get Bannister to renegotiate the lease on a year by year basis beyond 2002, but The Bannister Mall Mgmt wouldnt budge. They thought Bass Pro Shops would come in and save everything. Well they didnt , but they did get a new tenant in the old Bennigans called Golddigger which I believe was a strip joint. Way to go !! They should level all of south KC and pour asphalt over it–what a shithole!!

  150. I was born in 1981 & went to the Bannister Mall often growing up. I worked at the Tippins for a few years nearing the end of high school. I watched as the area declined. Outdoor shopping centers & new malls took away the necessary business for the areas survival. Once crime entered our neighborhood, we moved.
    In order for local businesses to succeed, it’s surounding community has to feed it. Don’t drive to Independence because it is “new”, shop from those local.
    I agree that the mall should be destroyed, but save the Benjamin Shopping strip. Remodel it instead of wasting unnecessary money for “new” buldings. And soccer fields? Ok, I agree that something needs to be put in to draw attention & money, but the demographics don’t fit. Ask those who live there what they want. What they will support. What they need.

  151. Demolition has begun, sorry Tolbert

  152. It’s sad to see the mall is getting demolished. But it had to be done, the neighborhood is a goldmine waiting to happen for the right person. With constant police activity, the ghetto trash will be at the very least kept away, and hopefully end up in jail where most of that neighborhood belongs.

  153. Having spent a good part of my high school years, it’s a sad day to see Bannister Mall going away. Like most things around the KC area, it seems to me that there’s been a serious neglect of reality ….and now you have the current results. Having the political will and the community willingness to address the issues has been the root cause of many of KC’s problems since the 80’s. That and a lack of long range planning.

    I’m not so sure about the new 71 highway had as much to do with it, as it has with the whole attitude of KC political leadership and the state of Missouri. Many may or may not know, but HUD was buying up houses in the Hickman Mills/Raytown area in the mid-late 80’s like drunks at a bar. The people who had kids that were now grown and through the school system were moving to the Lee’s Summit/NKC/Blue Springs area; – thus they were very happy to sell out. Then HUD started selling houses to alot of folks who didn’t necessarily share the same values of the area. That’s when the Bannister mall robberies/attacks, etc. started to take place. From there it snow-balled into a monster that to be way out of control.

    Also, back in the 70-80’s, there WAS alot of traffic going to the downtown area for jobs on the old 71, then Overland Park/Olathe area took off because businesses fiqured out they could pay less taxes in KS. With the new jobs, goes the traffic and hence the increase of housing/retail development. The new 71 was a dream that got started way too late, and then by the time it did finally happen…all the new jobs/current companies were gone to Johnson County.

    I would call it the “Perfect Storm of Disaster” that pretty much sums it up,………alot of ingredients came together at the right time to finish the recipe.

  154. Lane4 Property Group has stepped up to the plate along with OnGoalKC to save those precious handprints at Bannister Mall. In the beginning, Lane4, said that saving the prints might be too expensive and maybe not even possible because the cement prints might break-up and crack. But after a spot on CH9 News, Evelyn Cochran fanned the embers of the memories of those forgotten handprints. A successful campaign of emails being sent to Lane4 and Kaw Valley owners and operators, a decision was made to save the handprints. A viewing was held at the mall on April 4. People streamed in and began looking for “their” handprints, whether they were theirs, family members or friends. As each precious print was found, a blooming daffodil was placed next to it. Pictures were taken, tears were shed and smiles appeared. Unfortunately, the plaques intruducing the handprints to Macy’s shopper’s, are gone. Stolen in the night. They were probably last seen by Angie, as she stood in the cold, when visiting the handprints before the construction fences went up. If anyone knows the whereabouts of the plaques or if they want to return them with no questions asked, please call Lane4.
    KC Wizards/OnGoalKC displayed a drawing of where the handprints will possibly be placed at the new KC Wizards Stadium. A youth soccer tournament complex sounds like an ideal place! Now the big question? Will new prints be added when the complex is being constructed to represent the revitalization of south Kansas City, kicking off a new generation of handptints? Time will tell. But in the meantime, we celebrate the saving of those precious Bannister Mall HandPrints and a HUGE thank you goes out to Lane4 and OnGoalKC on a job well done.

  155. I saw this mall being built and I shopped there for years. I lived a mile away from it for years and now have seen it torn down little by little. It is so, so sad what crime can do to a wonderful mall such as this and to the suburb of Kansas City which was once a top notch area. Inner city bussed in on city transit came in to our suburb and ruined it with crime – not just shoplifting but car theft (I had my car stolen from Bannister Mall). I moved elsewhere after I saw this area going downhill. This was once a beautiful area. I went by the old Bannister Mall yesterday and it is now completely demolished. Yes, I cried to see what has happened to it. Such a shame.

  156. I live here in Kansas City and grew up here since 1978. I watched as the Mall was built….lived right down the road from the Mall. My high school was there no more then 2 miles away. This mall had everything. Fun Factory, Movie theater, restaurants, book store, you name it, it was here. The parking lot was filled, always. This was the place to go for us. My teenage years were here and i worked up the street at the Pizza Hut. Graduated from high school in 81 and left the area for the military. Came back and even worked security for the mall in 93 – 95. The neighborhood went to seed later in the mid nineties…..bus line from downtown became open and crime seemed to rise. They even put in booths for the security in the parking lot and that helped alot. Benjamin Stables sold their land around the late 80’s i believe, early nineties and the hypermart opened across the street along with a huge strip mall. My opinion what hurt Bannister……crime from downtown and the building of too much across the street from them. Just drove by there yesterday and noticed they were tearing it down. Strange…. I remember watching it being built…the foundation and all….and now i am seeing that same foundation as it is being torn down. This was a unique and incredible mall and it will be missed.

  157. The mall is officially gone, completely destroyed to make way for the new soccer fields. I drive by it ont he way to Royals games and it looks really wierd now that its not there. Completely changes the look of that corner.

    These are some of the last pics that I know of:

  158. Glad the soccer deal is dead, hopefully. I would rather have had a dead mall than that.

  159. Just wanted to leave another comment real quick, this goes for the wizards fans, what is wrong with the current stadium? It makes sense to share it with the Tbones so that why there is actual business there.

  160. This wasn’t a small mall–it was huge. It also had the advantage of being built to be added on to, which in the end didn’t save it, because it was dying due to urban blight. It is at the intersection of three major highways and should have been saved, but KC is a majorly racist community and can’t stand much racial mixing.

  161. Bobby, do you live in the area? Do you understand what a Wizards stadium/competition soccer fields/mixed use retail would have done for the area? Just because you don’t LIKE soccer doesn’t mean the district and area didn’t need the $50 million a year they would have gotten off the use of it. The mall is gone–literally it’s gone now–and all that remains around it is closed up strip shops and restaurants—get over it and get behind whatever we can bring to this area. Otherwise there won’t be an area to save.

  162. They won’t use Community America because it is a minor league baseball stadium with only 5000 permanent seats. The MLS needs around 15-20,000 for a team to remain viable long term. The Wizards are losing money right now. A new stadium is needed. The influx of hispanic residents to our area could have made the new Bannister complex (The Trails) amazingly successful. However, yet again the area was instead used as a pawn in a large scale game…who knows what our fate is now.

  163. I grew up in Johnson County (Prairie Village) in the 70s and 80s, and I’ve been in Denver, CO for over 15 years. I live in central Denver, right off one of the busiest bus lines in the country (the #15 Colfax bus). We have some crime, but not enough to scare people off. We have trouble with the public schools, but there is viable shopping downtown.

    There are areas with crime issues. But I’ve never heard the bus lines blamed, and it just doesn’t seem as bad as in KC. KC, last I checked, does have more concentrated poverty than Denver. Is it white fear of black presence that scares people off? We have a large Hispanic population here, but I don’t see the scale of problems I hear about from KC. Are the Anglos in Denver more accepting than the whites in KC? Has KC just never recovered from the desegregation and white flight that spurred the suburban sprawl into Johnson County?

    If this area is to thrive again, SOMEONE needs to figure out what can be done to restore EVERYBODY’S trust that they will neither be crime victims nor victims of overzealous police action.

  164. I worked at the BM V Cinemas when they opened. I would love to locate the projectionist or the manager, Mr. Z to find out if they still have a copy of the movie we made. The movie was called “Z- movie” and it was about working at the cinema. If anyone worked there in 1980 and remembers this let me know. —aaron

  165. what happened to Toys r us and what does hte Toys r us look like?

  166. what killed this mall too?

  167. @daniel fife, 1. There was no Toys R Us nearby, just a Kids R Us, and 2. Crime.

  168. @GregW,
    GregW –

    would you & your family, little sisters, brothers etc…
    continue to shop in an area where shooting, robbery, assault, theft, run rampant?

    THAT IS WHY decent people of all races stopped going there. Period!

    I grew up in the area & witnessed it first hand.
    It wasn’t only white flight, many of us black folk left too.

  169. I remember Bannister when it opened, and for a good 13 years or so, it was the cat’s meow. It once was a well maintained, safe and fun place to spend time and money. What killed Bannister (and it no longer exists, it was razed) were two main things.

    First, there was a largely unknown commercial/retail real-estate bubble in the mid eighties to early nineties that drove such properties up to astronomical values. Bannister was sold numerous times to ever higher bidders, and was horribly over “leveraged” (a favorite 1980′ yuppie term). The owners not only demanded a huge rent, but a cut of gross income as well.

    Second, there was a demographic and transportation issue as well. That bastion of housing fairness (sarcasm intended) known as HUD bought large numbers of old, small footage houses in the area. I mean HUGE numbers of houses. This lowered the value of properties in the area, as well as lowered the mean income. In other words, the neighborhood went to hell. Next, the transportation issue involved the ATA (Kansas city Area Transportation Authority) started running buses from the bad areas in town to the mall. Thus, the criminal element would take the bus to Banister to shoplift, then steal a car and go home. It was terrible.

    It became unsafe to go to Bannister mall. It was un kept, dirty, and stunk like moldy basements. The ceiling was falling in many areas, and all of the decorative lighting had been replaced with those horrible blue/white glaring flourescent montrosities that the greenie people love so much. All of the remaing live plants on the inside were replaced with cheap looking (and filthy) plastic plants. And the only stores left before it closed were things like “buy your hot car stereo gear here” and “genuine fake gold chains”.

    It was a real shame, actually. What started out as a very nice, suburban mall in the course of a decade and a half became an urban slum hangout for those with neferious intent (theft, drug deals, and the like). I remember when the mall opened… I was fourteen and my little brother was 12. We were invited on the opening day to put our hand prints with all of the other kids into a patch of wet cement on the East side of the mall near one of the anchors. Before they tore the place down, I went there and took a picture of our hand prints.

    Indeed, believe it or not, it was a cool, safe place for kids to hang out in during its heyday.


  170. I get choked up everytime I drive by this desolate area. I think about being a 10 year old kid walking through a bustling mall that is full of people. Our local government could have saved this area. They dangled Bass Pro and the soccer stadium over our heads like a steak for a starving dog. They have no intention of rebuilding this area. It is gone. South KC is the new KCK.

  171. @Amourdutigre,

    You are correct my friend. Look at huge malls these days. They do not erect in lower middle class neighborhoods. Bannister mall started off in a lower middle class neighborhood. Everything is based on money. Sad, but true.

    I was born in 82′ so Bannister Mall was a important part of my childhood. How does an entire area go down? Imagine if Independence Center and everything around Independence Center closed? It should have never happened. This is the reality of life. Only the affluent areas will have malls.

  172. I grew up in this mall and all the malls in the kc area. I walked its halls and worked at the stores and I now drive by the vacant lot every day as I make my deliveries. Its sad to see it go but after 2000 the entire area around the mall was overrun with blight and crime. It went from a middle class white area to a lower class mixed race area. When Bendix / allied signal/ honeywell started to downsize and moved out of most of the plant near bannister mall in the late 90’s most of the upper to middle class money went with it. Those jobs were the jobs that built that mall and the surrounding suburb. Now KC is left with the GSA employing the area and paying far less wages than Bendix did. No form of sports or public use area will enhance that part of the city, nothing will. Life is pathetic there. I hate driving through there. Its so depressing.

  173. @Bobby P.,

    There was a Toys R Us, along with the Kids R Us, and a Best Buy. I spent many childhood days and nights in that area. So sad to drive by it now as an adult and see the rubble/flattened land and empty buildings.

  174. @Coachb,
    What a crock, they can stand racial mixing. What they can’t stand is being robbed and car jacked. I grew up in that neighborhood and now look at it. It’s a frickin ghetto.

  175. During the deconstruction, I went to the mall pretty much every Thursday. I tried to take a photo from, more or less, the same spot as the mall got smaller and smaller. Sometimes, nothing changed for a couple of weeks; sometimes, big chunks were gone. Have a look at the “Bannister Mall” album on my facebook page The last 7 or 8 photos are very telling!

  176. Bannister was not as bad as many people believed. So much hearsay created fear and that kept consumers at bay. People have told me that they were scared to shop in the Bannister area. I would try to convince them that it was an OK area, but they would never listen. My white mother is a teacher in the Hickman Mills district and she would shop there every weekend. People were too irrational with their fears. Teachers from affluent areas would ask my mother in a shocking tone “how can you shop there? Aren’t you afraid?” My mother would tell them that they had nothing to fear. Still, they avoided the area at all costs. Every area has crime. Independence Center and surrounding areas have had car thefts, shoplifting and violent crimes. People still shop there.

    I believe a heavy presence of black people was the real issue, even though most people would not publicly admit this. Well guess what? Black people can no longer shop in the Bannister area so they will inevitably wind up in your neighborhood shopping centers. I guess avoiding them didn’t do the fearful and racist much good in the end.

    Pehaps if enough black people start frequenting shopping centers in which city hall officials shop, they will actually make an attempt to revitalize the Bannister area. Look at how much they became involved when the Plaza had that recent incident. They only try to protect and preserve areas that they frequent.

    Go ahead city hall; keep avoiding the Bannister issue. Until then, you will have integrated shopping centers on your turf. I welcome the integration, do you?

  177. @Coachb,

    I have to agree with you and the previous post. I am a Kansas City naitive, and I was ten years old with it opened. I remember before bus lines to the mall was available, which allowed for the idiots with no supervision to go and terrorize good people. It was a nice mall once upon a time, and like everything else in Kansas City, it went down the drain. I am a black person, who knows that KC is a vast ghetto from north to south, so this is why I live in Houston, and would never go back. It is really sad. There is some racial issues, however this does not justify idiots to bring down a community in value. My parents lived in the Robandee area in south Kansas City and before they past away, the community was nothing like it used to be.

  178. I moved down here at about the same time that Bannister closed, so I don’t know too much of the history, but my experiences with the Bannister area since 2007 are very depressing. I enjoy old malls and design (such as Metcalf South), and it was sad how such a prominent mall at a good location could not make it. Right before the mall was demolished I drove by and walked around the abandoned mall, and the crime around was just scary. There was graffiti and some questionable people hanging out around the building. I don’t know if the crime is a cause for or a result of the malls closing. It is far from the mall that I remember from vacations to KC as a kid.

    The one question that I have is why KC cannot support more than just two or three large malls. Omaha, where I am originally from, has three large indoor malls and a couple of smaller ones, but has about a quarter of the population. I can’t understand that.

  179. I am not from here so what killed this mall

  180. This was a beautiful mall in it’s day. I used to hang out there, shopping for hours back when it first opened. My high school friends and I loved this place and I am deeply saddened by what has happened to it.

    It is gone now…On a trip through KC a few months back, I found the mall gone…it’s been demolished.

    Those asking what killed it. I can answer that as I watched it happen. It was the gang wars that began during the late ’80’s…

    There were shootings, car-jackings, stabbings…you name it. I stopped going and so did all the folks I knew, because the crime was so out of control.

    The good folks who lived in the area couldn’t go there without fear of being robbed or worse.

    Goodbye Bannister Mall…I’ll always have my memories!

  181. why does it have so many dead malls and whats Kansas Citys crime rate like?

  182. To say the least, Bannister Mall was huge. I liked going there just for that fact alone. The other stores that were close by were cool too. Even the Hypermart. I will miss these places just as much as anyone else. Memories intact til death do us part.

  183. C Withers Catering is now in midtown on Broadway

  184. Bannister Mall failed for one reason, the influx of poor blacks into nearby areas bringing the gangs and crime with them. In the midwest (like it or not) white flight is still happening. Once a few blacks move into a white area, the whites flee outwards and the area declines in value and more blacks move in and the crime goes up and that spilled over to the mall where criminals saw opportunity to rob and kill innocent people. Bannister was an upscale and huge mall, and it was jammin back in the early 80’s but by the 90’s the demographics changed and that put the nail in the coffin for the mall. I dont see anything succeeding on that site because the area around it is still all black and high crime. Sad

  185. @JW, Actually, if you read crime reports by district, you will see that the Bannister area doesn’t have much going on in terms of serious offenses. Of course that can change on a weekly basis.

    But you are right about the lower income families. Back in the 80’s, they started using that area for low-income housing. Around 1990, I remember my father telling me that the Bannister area would be completely run-down in at least a decade. White flight occurred within the entire area. From Bannister to Loma Vista to Robandee to Ruskin Heights. Back in the late-80’s to early 90’s, those areas were predominantly middle class and white. Many of my private school classmates lived in those 4 areas. My family lived in the Robandee area until 1998. Right around James A. Reed and 95th Street to be more specific. But my parents moved because they needed a larger home, and not because of crime.

    My girlfriend is black, so I am far from racist. But even she agrees that low-income housing must be contained to areas that are not booming or doing well, economically. Sadly, it really is a few that ruin it for the rest. I had black friends living in all 4 areas back in the early 90’s, and they were model citizens, as were their families.

    Commercial business has been a proven failure and likely would never work again. What are your thoughts on Bannister leaning more towards an industrial district? Are they zoned for industrial business?

  186. @daniel Fife,

    unsafe reputation, racism, sprawl, and crappy management

  187. In my book, as long as there is ONE store in business, a mall isn’t truly dead yet. All it needs is to keep a store open for the mall to stay “alive”.

  188. C Withers on Broadway recently closed

  189. @Coachb, Have to agree with you on the remark about KC being overtly racist, unfortunately. Of course, there are certain suburbs around here that prove that white people can be just as ghetto and low class, but no one will ever bat an eye to that. People familiar with K.C. should know who I’m talking about, but I’m not going to name names…

    For the record, I live blocks away from where Bannister Mall once was, and have for ten years, so I’ve been here for as long as this area hasn’t been doing as good. I am white, and so are many of my neighbors. Only once has there been a time where crime has happened on my street, and even then, it wasn’t random. Besides that, this area is actually very quiet. There may be the occasional robbery at McDonald’s or Pizza Hut, but that could be anywhere. Urban blight is a problem, but besides that, it isn’t as bad as people think. Go further east to Troost or Prospect if you want to find the real trouble. The only real thing 4-35 and Bannister is guilty of is there’s nothing to do. Like I said, it’s very quiet… but also very boring.

    That said, if I had the money, I probably would move… but it would have to be away from the Kansas City metro area, in general, if at all possible. Kind of tired of the racist, class-ist B.S. that goes on around here on a daily basis. It’s ridiculous. It’s like being forced to live in a modern day version of the 60s, here. And the worst part of it is, is that nobody seems interested in changing that. K.C. is stuck in the past, and not for the good.

  190. @XISMZERO, it sounds you’r moastly discribing parkway center mall with a bit of centry iii mall.On a completly unrelated note i just had jhony rockets tonight it was the best ever!!!!!

  191. @Allan, i think for a short time it was pared up with macy’s as macy’s/jcpenny.

  192. @Gary Nelson, i think it was i’ve looked it up before.

  193. @Whatever,
    So true. I grew up a few miles east at Raytown RD and Bannister in the 80’s and personally saw that mall’s decline throughout the 90’s. All the white folks moved to Lee Summit/Belton/OP and this mall just declined.

  194. @Perry C, Bannister was neither the largest mall in KC or Missouri. The closed The Crossings at Northwest in St. Louis is the largest fallowed by Oak Park and then Metro North. Bannister at 1.1 Million was around the same size as Independence Center, if not smaller. It was larger than Ward Parkway, Indian Springs, Mission, The Great Mall, and Metcalf South!

  195. @Coachb,

    Sorry moron. Not wanting to mix with gang members is not racist.

    The issue is the mall didn’t police their store well enough and set high enough standards, and the city didn’t keep that side of town up enough, and hence in came the gangs.

    KC is not racist at all. What a ridiculous statement.

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