South Kansas City’s Red Bridge area shopping center in need of makeover

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's a shopping center in need of a makeover.

Business operators in South Kansas City's Red Bridge area say their shopping center is a shadow of what it used to be, and they're excited that city leaders want to help.

When the Red Bridge Shopping Center was built, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House. That was 1965, and one city council member said it hasn't received a makeover since then. Business operators at Red Bridge, which sits across the street from Minor Park Golf Course, say a facelift will help the money come back to their stores.

In strong times, and in weak, Gary Young has known the Red Bridge Shopping Center in many forms. He's managed Benefit Health and Fitness for the past three years.

"When I got over here, there was a movie theatre here. There was a restaurant down the way. There was a coffee shop down the way," Young said. "They're all gone now."

Young says it’s time for Red Bridge to stage a comeback of sorts. He's been in attendance at two public meetings held by Lane Four, a commercial development firm that's become known for making old Kansas City retail centers new again.

"This is a nice neighborhood over here. We have nice things over here. It would be nice to have a shopping center be part of those nice things," Young said.

Kansas City Councilman Scott Taylor is trying to push Red Bridge enhancement plans toward other city leaders. He points to recent construction projects owned by firms such as Burns & McDonnell and Cerner as economic momentum, and reason to believe South Kansas City is worth investment.

"Due to the condition that (the shopping center) is in now, a lot of the businesses have left or closed, like restaurants and basic services. There are still good businesses there, but they need more," Taylor said.

Taylor says he's asking fellow council members to designate public improvement dollars toward Red Bridge's comeback.

Tim Henry has lived nearby for 43 years, and remembers when Red Bridge was home to a Macy's store and a movie theatre, long before vacant storefronts took over.

"I'm tired of the idea that on the weekend, we get in the car and drive Red Bridge Road to hook up with College Boulevard to eat dinner on the Kansas Side," Henry said. "I'd like to see some of that money remain on the Missouri side."

Councilman Taylor told FOX 4 News he'll introduce his plans to the entire city council during Thursday's meeting. He says Lane Four developers are requiring that support before they'll buy in.