Let me give you a bit of a history lesson on SKC/Raytown/Grandview.
In the 70's and 80's, this was probably the hottest area in all of metro KC. There were homes going up in SKC like there was no tomorrow. Raytown and the much larger Raytown School District was one of the most sought after areas in all of KC for young families.
Raytown and the areas south of Raytown and north of Grandview (Hickman Mills and Ruskin) were growing very fast as was the cities of Grandview and Raytown.
Bannister Mall came in and then Benjamin Plaza and that area became one of the hottest retail centers in the entire country overnight and was by far the most popular shopping district in metro KC. It was so popular that traffic in the area was a nightmare and 435 and Bannister was always backed up.
Then it all came to a grinding halt and here is why.
KCMO needed to spread out its section 8 housing and began tearing down high rise projects in city and buying homes in SKC to relocate those people into single family homes. Over the period of about six years, Some areas of SKC were 1/4 subsidized housing, especially around Loma Vista (just east of Bannister Mall). With this came people that didn't take care of homes and a city housing authority that did not property make sure all these homes were taken care of properly or screen tenants properly before placing them in the homes and apartments.
This caused a massive flight of white families to Lee's Summit Cass County and Johnson County as crime crept up and property values plummeted. Most of the nearby apartment complexes also flipped to section 8 or subsidized housing. This section 8 housing thing was not widespread, but it had widespread results.
So this created a "panic" as the area looked to be changing into something nobody wanted. If you drive down Bannister Road east of Blue Ridge, you will see what looks like a fast suburban area that just stopped growing all of the sudden two decades ago with pockets of open land and half built subdivisions. It looks like parts of Olathe or Blue Springs where there are new areas popping up and areas between the new homes that are going to be built on soon. Only the SKC area never filled all those areas.
SKC did have some major crime waves too and many associate that with the section 8 housing, but race was really a huge problem as this area went from 99.9% white to massive influx of blacks overnight.
The 4 million square foot retail district around Bannister Mall was a thriving retail area with two major movie theaters and HyperMart USA. It was a suburban shopping mecca. It also became the shopping district of choice for urban youth because it was the closest and it was on several busy city bus lines that went right into the city.
Crime was never really a problem at the mall, but the area did have a lot of car thefts etc. But it was really nothing out of the ordinary for such a large shopping center.
But the local press jumped all over it and never let go and then the mall did some things that only made the problem worse. For example, even though auto thefts were no worse than other areas malls when you factor in the size of the mall, the mall installed massive guard shacks throughout the parking lots that only made people think that maybe the mall isn't safe if they need this type of security.
Marian Merrow Dow was a huge part of SKC building their world headquarters on Hillcrest. This massive pharmaceuticals company that was the result of Ewing Kauffman, a major KCMO supporter, was eventually was bought by an overseas company after he died and what was left of the local giant moved to Overland Park leaving behind a massive vacant office complex as the new owners no longer had the ties or interest to keep it in KCMO like Kauffman did.
So, combine all this together.
Urban youths hanging out at the mall (although it never got any worse than what you might see today at Oak Park or Independence Center, they just deal with it differently today).
Bus lines and the busy bus stops that intimidated suburbanites. Many thought the buses were only bringing a criminal element to the area when by far and large, they were just bringing people that wanted to shop to the area.
The downhill slide of SKC demographics as KCMO flooded the area with low income section 8 residents and ran off many working families and white flight went out of control.
Ruskin became a "suburban ghetto" in the late 90's and really did have some major problems with crime, drive by shootings etc.
Traffic flow problems in the area that Modot waited till it was too late to address.
And then you have a vacant 10 story corporate office building that really said "this area is dead".
All of this combined created a scenario where a massive part of a city crashed and burned literally overnight. The rise and fall of the Bannister Mall is simply amazing and I'm not sure you will find many similar examples anywhere in the country. In the period of about 15 years, this area went from nothing to a super fast growing suburb and one of the most popular malls in the midwest to blight and abandonment.
And it took Raytown and Grandview with it even though neither one of those cities had ANYTHING to do with any of what I just mentioned. They were just "associated" with SKC. To most people in metro KC, Raytown/SKC/Ruskin/Hickman Mills and Grandview is all one in the same and the Raytown School covers large parts of south KCMO.
The mall is gone, the section 8 problems have been addressed and the areas around the mall are still livable areas, but they will never return to the glory days of the 80's.
And now you know the rest of the story
Having said all of that, I truly believe the the worst is behind SKC. Even Ruskin seems to have recovered after bottoming out. You could buy a nice 3 bedroom home in Ruskin for 40k in the 90's.
The Mall is no longer there so the area is no longer a magnet for car thieves or the press that really enjoyed blowing things out of proportion. The Bannister Mall area is about to be replaced with a billion dollar plus mixed use development that will bring people from all over back to the area. A professional soccer stadium, the largest and nicest youth soccer complex in the region, a smaller retail component to better fit the area rather than a regional mall, a new major hotel and best of all, a major office complex. Cerner, a North Kansas City based company bought the former MMD headquarters and has filled it back up and proudly has a large Cerner sign on the tower. Cerner CEO's are part owners of the Wizards and are possibly going to occupy some of the new office buildings to be built in the area. Cerner might be able single handedly turn this area around and if they are able to do so, they should be applauded as a corporate citizen because most companies in KC run for Johnson County office parks and leave behind a mess like what Cerner is trying to fix.
Stowers Institute is also rumored to be interested in the office portion of the project and if you have ever seen the Stowers office complex near the plaza that turned a hospital campus (that also bolted for JoCo), into an amazing usable urban space again, you would know that would be an amazing catch for SKC.
So there you go. That's the history of SKC.