The latest renovation of Columbia’s first mall is complete.
The Parkade Center at 601 Business Loop 70 W. has a new look after a multi-million dollar renovation. Most obvious to the casual observer is the exterior of the building, where a maroon-and-gray motif has replaced the electric blue awnings that were affixed to the building during a previous renovation. The project also includes new landscaping, underground power lines and a new parking lot, managers said Tuesday.
Columbia’s Burnam family, prominent developers and owners of the nationwide company Storage Mart, bought the Parkade Center in October. They began the renovation earlier this year. Weyen Burnam, co-owner of the center and a leasing agent at Columbia Realty, declined to specify the exact amount the family spent on the project.
“It is a great asset to the business loop,” Burnam said of the renovated mall.
Formerly known as the Parkade Plaza, the building was constructed in 1965. At that time, it was anchored by J.C. Penney and also housed the Flaming Pit restaurant. Occupancy, however, fell to under 10 percent when J.C. Penney moved in the late 1980s to what was then the brand new Columbia Mall, Burnam said.
When the Burnams bought the center, occupancy was at 60 percent. The renovation has helped boost that to 75 percent, said manager and leasing agent Bob Curnutte. He expects more tenants soon. “We will be full by the end of the year,” he said.
“A family took a building in disrepair and opened up new jobs,” Curnutte added. “This is an economic plus for Columbia.”
Burnam said that he frequented the plaza as a child. The Burnams have developed businesses nationwide for the past 20 years. The Parkade project, he said, “is an effort to refocus on our roots.”
The renovated Parkade Center is 225,000 square feet and houses 58 tenants employing about 600 people. Occupants include the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Midwest Rare Coins. New leases this year include Mormon’s Cafe, Robinson’s Barber Shop and Aaron’s Rents.
People who work at the center appreciate the renovations.
“The exterior is nice, more professional,” said Jennifer Jordan, contract specialist at the USDA. “The clientele is also more diversified.”
The USDA is the largest tenant, occupying 60 percent of the center.
A ribbon-cutting will be held at 5 p.m. today to celebrate the renovation. Featured speakers will include U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and U.S Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Highlights will include a $1,000 scavenger hunt and live band performances.
Curnutte said the renovation has been well received.
“Five, seven people a day come in and thank us for redoing this place,” he said, promising that the center won’t fall into disrepair again.
“We’re not going to let it happen,” Curnutte said. “You can bet your life on it.”