Financial and investment services company Advisors Excel acquired the West Ridge Mall retail property in the company’s hometown of Topeka, Kan., earlier this year. Recently, the firm also announced its significant renovation plans for the property.
Specifically, Advisors Excel plans to reposition the retail property into a mixed-use center that incorporates lifestyle offerings, such as coworking and flexible office options; entertainment; retail; dining; and green space.
“Contrary to popular belief, the American mall is not dead,” said Cody Foster, co-founder of Advisors Excel. “It simply needs a facelift, which is our exact mission with this project. Developers are looking to shift shopping centers to a multipurpose lifestyle hub, incorporating leisure offerings and getting people in the door again, whether they are consumers, tenants or professionals.”
Originally opened in 1988, West Ridge includes 992,000 square feet of Topeka retail space and is reportedly the third-largest enclosed mall in Kansas. Aiming to adapt to the evolving retail landscape, the redesign will feature a fresh, urban design and layout and include non-traditional mall uses, such as theaters, fitness spaces, spas, breweries, and cafes.
“As retail and workspace expectations evolve, the 21st-century mall holds the potential to offer dynamic mixed-use spaces that include lifestyle amenities and office space options sought after by young professionals,” said Molly Howey, president of economic development agency GO Topeka. “This project represents a crucial step for Topeka to further cultivate a multifaceted lifestyle experience catering to diverse demographics. Moreover, local ownership ensures a customized approach tailored to our community’s unique needs.”
Since its founding in Topeka in 2005, Advisors Excel has grown to be one of the largest employers in town. Once the property conversion is complete, it will also be home to the company’s new headquarters office space and accommodate more than 500 of its nearly 900 employees. While the development project is still in its initial stages, Advisors Excel is reportedly working to retain all current mall employees and management during the transition.
Other local projects developed and led by the mall’s new owners include the renovation of Henderson Learning Resources Center at Washburn University (alma mater to Advisors Excel co-founders, Cody Foster and David Callahan) and the 2019 adaptive reuse renovation of a former shopping complex and two office buildings to support community businesses and boost the local workforce with a lasting positive economic influence.
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