A year ago, skepticism was the dominant theme when the new owner of Prairie Village’s two major shopping centers first met the City Council.
This year however, First Washington Realty of Maryland received a warm response from the Council, particularly the new manager the firm brought on board last summer, Michelle Pitsenberger.
“I believe you’ve delivered on your promises since you arrived a year ago,” said Council member Eric Mikkelson.
Since purchasing the two shopping centers from a Cosentino family-led ownership group for almost $97 million in January 2015, First Washington has continued investing.
Among the larger projects this year was a new roof for the building housing Johnny’s Tavern and a new facade for Hattie’s Coffee, both at Corinth Square.
The high profile project for the coming year will be selecting public art for The Shops at Prairie Village and identifying a location, said Gregg Zike of First Washington.
Zike said Paul Dorrell of the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City has been chosen to be the consultant on the public art project. It’s approximately $50,000 price tag is being paid for by revenues from the community improvement district established for the center. It levies and additional one-percent sales tax to pay for improvements.
“Paul is evaluating Village Shops for the best spot,” Zike said. “We’re in the early stages. Bringing Paul on the team is a great step.”
At some point, community input will be sought to help with the public art project, he added.
Mikkelson suggested the firm consider building a small park at the northwest corner of 71st Street and Mission Road on the outer edge of the Macy’s parking lot. He said that would build on the extensive upgrading the city did to Mission Road last summer which widened sidewalks and added landscaping.
Zike said the corner was one being considered for the public art project.
As for leasing, Zike said the Corinth Shops are 100 percent leased and the Village Shops are close to 99 percent leased. In addition to the Prairie Village properties, First Washington owns the Fairway Shops and the Brookside shopping center in Kansas City.
Council member Jori Nelson asked about the fate of Bruce Smith drugs, which closed at the beginning of the month with the hopes of reopening after getting its financial affairs back in order.
“We’re working with Bruce Smith daily,” he said. “I can’t say much more.”