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Dillard’s Said to be in Talks for Plaza Nordstrom Site

Project Has Been in Limbo for Two Years

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Above image credit: The Dillard's at Zona Rosa opened in 2008. The Little Rock-based department store chain is considered to cater to a middle and upper middle class clientele. (Courtesy | Zona Rosa website)

Dillard’s is negotiating with the owners of the Country Club Plaza to replace the Nordstrom  project that has been stalled for two years, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

While no lease has been completed, sources say the discussions involve building a Dillard’s department store that would take the place of the proposed 122,000-square-foot Nordstrom development approved by the city in early 2019.

Although Little Rock-based Dillard’s doesn’t have the cachet of Nordstrom, it is described as catering to a middle and upper middle class market. Dillard’s currently operates stores at the Independence Center, Oak Park Mall and Zona Rosa.

On a financial basis, the family owned Dillard’s chain, which operates 282 stores in 29 states, has outperformed its department store rivals during the pandemic, including Nordstrom, according to a recent article in Forbes.

A Dillard’s spokesperson declined to comment about a potential Country Club Plaza location.

“I’m unable to confirm that, so respectfully declining comment,” Julie Johnson Guymon, director of investor relations, said in an email.

Rendering of the proposed Nordstrom department store on the Country Club Plaza.
The proposed Nordstrom department store development has made little progress since 2019. (Rendering | Nordstrom)

The Plaza was purchased six years ago by Taubman Centers and Macerich.

“We don’t have any news to share regarding the Plaza at this time,” Maria Mainville, a spokesperson for Taubman, said in an email.

The fate of the proposed Plaza Nordstrom has been a topic of intense speculation because the Seattle-based chain has twice delayed a proposed opening. The latest scheduled opening is Fall 2023, according the firm’s website.

That timetable. however, is considered unrealistic by people familiar with the commercial construction industry. They say it would likely take at least 18 months and perhaps more than two years to build and furnish a 122,000-square-foot store.

There has been no activity at the development site since 2019, when a section of a Plaza garage and businesses on Jefferson Street were demolished for the project.

The last permits to be issued for the Nordstrom project were in November 2020 when an $11 million building permit and $4.5 million tenant finish permit were issue by the city.

There has been no activity at the proposed Nordstrom site at the Plaza since demolition was completed in 2019. Industry sources say a Fall 2023 completion is unrealistic.
There has been no activity at the proposed Nordstrom site at the Plaza since demolition was completed in 2019. Industry sources say a Fall 2023 completion is unrealistic. (Kevin Collison | CityScene)

At the time the Nordstrom project was proposed at City Hall, Plaza officials said it would be the kind of development that would help boost the shopping center’s reputation as a regional destination.

“We see the addition of Nordstrom … as a great opportunity to assure the sustainability of the Plaza as a regional shopping center for years to come,” John Eggert of Taubman development told the City Plan Commission in December 2018.

The potential replacement of the Nordstrom with a Dillard’s comes at a time when the Plaza, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, has experienced significant vacancies.

The iconic shopping center has been without a full-service department store since Hall’s closed in 2014. Over the years it was the home of several upscale department stores including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bonwit Teller.

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.

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