Wyandotte Plaza among areas just east of Village West seeing revitalization
Lifelong Wyandotte County resident Loraine Waldeck was born the same year the Wyandotte Plaza shopping center at 78th Street and State Avenue debuted in 1961 and said that when she was a girl, it was the place to be. But over her lifetime, the area has seen years of neglect and decline.
Until a recent redevelopment project, Wyandotte Plaza hadn’t seen major refurbishment for decades. The last pieces of the approximately $30 million project are set for completion by late spring.
Waldeck is the owner of MeMa’s Bakery and Kitchen, which relocated from The Legends to Wyandotte Plaza nine months ago. For Waldeck, who grew up and still lives nearby, she said it was the right choice.
“When we opened our doors here the first day, I got flowers and cards and they all said the same thing: ‘Welcome home,’” Waldeck said.
Including a Price Chopper, Wyandotte Plaza has 210,000 square feet of retail space — the equivalent of nearly four football fields — that is about 85 percent leased, said Dave Claflin, spokesman for Red Legacy, the developers of the shopping center. The project has filled a major trade gap in the city’s interior, Claflin said.
“The renovation has transformed a declining asset into a vibrant retail center and has brought national stores and restaurants to the area,” he said.
The majority of the redevelopment of Wyandotte Plaza is already finished. Awaiting completion is a building set to house a Marshalls and PetSmart, both set to open by May, Claflin said. Krispy Kreme will open Feb. 24 and CommunityAmerica Credit Union has signed a lease, but an opening date following a remodeling is not yet set, Claflin said.
Now in a larger space at Wyandotte Plaza, MeMa’s — whose signature products are apple strudel, povitica bread and cinnamon rolls — is able to offer a new breakfast and lunch menu and expand the wholesale of its bakery items, Waldeck said.
The redevelopment is complemented by major infrastructure improvements, that together have rehabilitated the area, said Edwin Birch, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County’s public information officer.
“The street improvements along with the redevelopment of Wyandotte Plaza has revitalized an older section of the city that hadn’t received this level of improvements in more than three decades,” Birch said.
Waldeck said Wyandotte Plaza as a whole had needed a lot of work, and the drastic improvements were what the community needed.
“It’s very nice to see the resurgence. I think it’s lifted everybody’s spirits in this area. It’s something we can be proud of,” she said.
The infrastructure improvements to the area included street resurfacing, new sidewalks, medians and curbs, along with lighting and decorative landscaping from 73rd Street to 94th Street and State Avenue, Birch said.
By providing a place nearby for residents to shop, Birch said he hopes the Wyandotte Plaza redevelopment will bring even more businesses to the area.
“For the residents, they have some places to shop and do some things right in their neighborhood. So we hope this will spark future development,” Birch said.