Rosa ready to 'rock and roll'
On Monday morning the security guard at the makeshift
gate at Zona Rosa was standing outside of his
car, and judging from his friendly, understanding
tone, he had already talked to a few visitors
Do you know where youre going?
Its a question that visitors to the 93-acre,
1.2 million square foot retail, restaurant, office
and residential new urban destination
off Barry Road are bound to be asking themselves
as they wander the streets of the sprawling complex
in the future. In fact, theyre doing it
Some of the residents from the nearby neighborhoods
just kind of wander on in, Rosemary Salerno,
Zona Rosas general manager, said. We
have our entrances secured but they just find
ways to come over. Well see people walking
around and well stop them because it is
still a construction zone, which is why were
pretty particular about who gets in and out of
Zona Rosa is about to become a lot more welcoming,
however. On Wednesday of this week is when Zona
Rosa and its 31 retailers officially opened their
doors to the public. The centers phase 1
opening is the culmination of plans that began
in 2001, when landowner Bonnie Poteet sold her
family farm to Columbus, Ohios Steiner &
Associates, with the express purpose of building
the mix-use, Country Club plaza of the Northland.
It was Poteet, a Latin American Studies Professor
at Bucknell University, who recommended calling
the project Zona Rosa. In Mexico City, the Zona
Rosa is known as the most Americanized
portion of the city. Restaurants print menus in
English, shop owners are bilingual and there is
a ready supply of fast food restaurants and nightclubs.
Tourist information centers provide maps and guides,
if needed and the streets are often closed to
allow browsing amongst the street side attractions
Here, Zona Rosa is expected to bring a sense
of place to an underserved market. Platte
County leaders are counting on the center to earn
about $200 million in retail sales annually
roughly 20 percent of the countys combined
retail sales in 2003. For these two reasons excitement
abounds in and around the complex.
As a consumer, Im excited about
the new restaurants and new shops, said
Platte County Commissioner Steve Wegner. As
a commissioner, I think its an excellent
place for (the people in) Jackson, Clay, Johnson
and Leavenworth counties to come and visit and
see how great of county we have. Its excellent
to have a quality development and a development
that has been done the right way
is a classy county and this just makes us a little
more top drawer than we already are.
Days before the opening, tenants milled in front
of their storefronts, and a sense of excitement
pervaded their interactions with other employees
as they put the finishing touches on their window
and counter displays. Maintenance workers scurried
from one project to another of what no doubt seemed
like an endless punch list of items. On Barry
Road, Kansas City Public Works members busily
painted traffic arrows.
Larry Plaisance, general manager for the Bravo!
Italian Cucina restaurant, said that his restaurant,
which plans to open on May 25, has been training
its 160-member staff for about one week. He said
that anticipation for the complex and the restaurants
opening is extreme.
Up until now, its been about the
hype, Plaisance said. But now its
about to happen. Well be ready to rock and
Salerno, herself surveying the activity at street
level clutching a stack of papers, laughed happily
at all of the activity.
Everyones putting last minute touches
on the stores, and cleaning the streets, and planting
the final flowers, getting everything looking
wonderful for (the opening) Wednesday, Salerno
enthused. Everybody is just so excited about
this project. Its really very unique to
the whole new urban
retail design where you kind of have the feel
of an old downtown district, with varying storefront
it really feels like its own little
city, its own little town. Everybody who has seen
the project has been overwhelmingly complimentary
Officially under the jurisdiction of the Kansas
City North Patrol, Zona Rosa will nonetheless
employ its own security staff, as the Country
Club Plaza does. Salernos six-person office
will manage the day-to-day business of running
Zona Rosa, in addition to the housecleaning and
maintenance staff. In all, more than 1,000 people
will find employment there.
Already in pre-development for their second and
final phase, which is expected to be complete
in 2006, the complex will boast more than 100
stores, 1.2 million square feet of office and
retail space and bring the total cost of the development
to $100 million.
Its so multi-faceted. Literally you
can live, you can shop, you can work, you can
eat, and obviously the entertainment value and
dining-out factors of it are very important, combined
with the shopping aspects of it as well. Its
a lot of things to a lot of different people.
Salerno outlined the events that they plan to
showcase in the developments town square
events that include a weekly summer jazz
series, farmers markets, and art fairs.
Its really going to be a place for
people to come, even if they dont know what
theyre going to be doing when they get here.
We really feel like its a destination because
there will always be something happening.