Demolition began at Olathe’s Great Mall of the Great Plains on July 11. A 15-man crew is expected to complete clearing the site in 5-6 months. Burlington Coat Factory, the mall’s last remaining store, will stay open during the demolition. Photo courtesy of Jerry Kellogg


A 15-man crew is expected to complete clearing the site in 5-6 months. Burlington Coat Factory, the mall’s last remaining store, will stay open during the demolition.
When the $137 million single-level indoor mall opened August 14, 1997, it featured 786,000 square feet of retail floor space, 160 stores, an 800-seat food court and a 16-screen Dickinson movie complex, attracting 73,000 visitors on opening day and nearly one million visitors during its first month of operation. The mall sported an oval “racetrack” layout with futuristic floor-to-ceiling glass storefronts, offering shoppers a hybrid of retailer and manufacturer outlets, discount and off-price stores, restaurants and entertainment.

When the $137 million single-level Great Mall of the Plains opened August 14, 1997 it attracted 73,000 visitors on its opening day. Demolition began last week. Photo courtesy of Jerry Kellogg

When the $137 million single-level Great Mall of the Plains opened August 14, 1997 it attracted 73,000 visitors on its opening day. Demolition began last week. Photo courtesy of Jerry Kellogg


Surrounding the mall were 4,753 parking lot spaces, 25 motorcoach spaces and 70 handicap spaces. Mall entrances led to themed shopping courts — Fashion, Home and Hobby, Sports and Adventure and Techtainment. The mall had contemporary architecture, interactive directories and kiosks and brightly colored wall-to-wall carpeting. Some shoppers suggested the colors and patterns were horrendous and may have made some visitors dizzy.
At the time of opening, Johnson County, with its jobless rate hovering just over 2 percent, couldn’t fill the Great Mall’s staffing positions by itself. So the mall and the Olathe Chamber of Commerce sponsored a summer job fair, that included busing in potential workers from Kansas City, KS and the Bannister Mall area in Kansas City, MO. More than 2,000 people showed up. At peak, the mall had 1,600 employees.
The Great Mall closed in September 2015 due to a lack of tenants and customers, unable to weather economic downturns and changes in people’s shopping habits. There are currently no plans for what will become of the site, but the owners are working with a realtor to determine the future of the 110-acre property.
(Submitted story)
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