Scott Reed's Commentary

Posted January 10, 2008 (user submitted)

Lawrence has never taken well to malls, nor suggestions of malls in the city. Traditionally, the city council has attempted to keep out chain stores from Lawrence's downtown, and has resisted zoning and planning for large shopping centers.

The Riverfront Mall was a somewhat large development on the bank of the Kansas River, next to the river bridge that connects Lawrence to North Lawrence (and Highway 40). When it opened in the late 1980s, the mall featured outlet stores from retailers such as J. Crew and Bugle Boy. Over time, tenants left, with the last of them leaving in the late 1990s. The facility no longer houses any retail space, but a portion of it has been converted over to office space for Sunflower Cable, the local cable company (and a division of the Lawrence Journal-World, the newspaper company); a SpringHill Suites hotel, and some space used by the Lawrence City government (it is located just next door to city hall).

When I last had opportunity to wander through the mall space, there are half-finished construction areas that would seem to be developing retail spaces as well as some labelscarred storefronts in a dimly-lit corridor. As best as I know, there are no plans for re-developing the mall for retail space.

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