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

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. (Photo from Zona Rosa website)

(Editor’s note, updated April 12: Nordstrom is no longer listing a plan to open a Plaza location on its website.

The Plaza owners have released a statement: “Taubman and Macerich, the owners of Country Club Plaza, and Nordstrom have mutually agreed not to move forward with the new Nordstrom store slated for the district. Taubman is actively reviewing alternative plans for the location and looks forward to making an announcement in the near future.”)

By Kevin Collison

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.

The proposed Nordstrom department store development has made little progress since 2019. (Image from Nordstrom planning department application.)

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.

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.

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  1. As an inhabitant of the Plaza area, this is very good news. Dillards is just right for the Plaza in this era.
    Maybe we can even get a modest size grocery store too.

  2. I understand how business and real estate work, but I wish the Plaza owners would incentivize local businesses to open up there. Even creating real neighborhood amenities like a grocery store would be nice, as John, above, stated.

  3. Meh. I disagree with John. An average, generic retailer like Dillards does not belong on the Plaza. Its KC’s top tourist attraction and should remain destination shopping. Nobody will go out of their way to shop at Dillards. Might as well place Applebee’s while they’re at it. Sad to see the Plaza devolve into a mediocre retail outlet.

  4. I understand the commenters who disagree with me, but…
    Look and all the “hi-class” places that have abandoned the Plaza: Halls, Swansons, Helzbergs etc. The Plaza has changed. Remember the Plaza at it’s highest popularity… the 50s and 60s…the drawing cards were Macys, Sears, Emery Bird’s, a bowling alley, a gas station, theaters, etc. I agree somewhat with the developer who is trying to demolish the Christ Scientist church. He wants, he says, to develop on the spot businesses that look to middle and high middle class. Just stand on a corner and look at the shoppers going by. I don’t see many Sunset and Mission Hillites. The Plaza has changed. Let’s get a drugstore, too!!!

  5. The dream of the Plaza being a “Rodeo Drive – one of the world’s most exclusive luxury destinations” has vanished like a puff of smoke in the last 20 years. It is now a very nice shopping center with interesting architectural features. Face it. The Plaza is now for regular people…with modest interests and budgets. Did you see the new concept for the Christ Scientist church location? Stunning!!! You can see a recap of the new plan here on City Scene today. So, accept it folks. Dillards is the answer for that empty space. Get going. Do it.
    P.S. Kevin Collison — very nice performance on ‘Week in Review’ last night.

  6. The goal was to have Nordstrom as a destination tenant. Dillards does not fit the bill, as there are three already in the area and one in the failed “Plaza of the Northland” , ZR. Bloomingdales should be the next thought as a high end, destination retailer. Eddie V’s, Capital Grille, and Prime Social all should use their influence and pressure the landlord to keep the Plaza as a high end destination. It is a slippery slope, and once Dillards comes in, the outlet stores will be next , followed by Applebee’s, Red Robin, and Texas Roadhouse on the Plaza..no thank you.

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