The Village Shops this fall will become home to the second “Live Blue” retail center for health insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield last week finalized a lease with LANE4 to occupy the 4,700 square foot space that was previously home to the Toon Shop’s instrument showroom and store. The Village Music Academy, which spun off from the Toon Shop after it closed, will continue to operate in the rooms in the basement level.
The new facility, one of just two in the metro area, will primarily serve as a gathering place for seminars, classes and activities aimed at improving people’s health. Company president and CEO David Gentile said Blue Cross and Blue Shield will offer yoga and pilates classes, cooking classes, and other wellness-oriented events.
Though such classes will likely be made available via reservations to Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance cardholders first, Gentile said people not insured by the company will have access to the resources as well.
“The primary focus is providing a wellness space for the community,” he said. “We’re working on the protocol for making reservations for the classes and events now, and we’re trying to avoid a fee framework [for non-Blue Cross and Blue Shield members].”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced last month it would be opening its first “Live Blue” retail space in Zona Rosa in August, and said it was planning on opening a space in Prairie Village as well, but did not have a location set until last week. Gentile said the company hopes to have the Prairie Village center open by Oct. 15 so as to be able to provide resources to people looking to enroll in healthcare plans prior to the enactment of provisions of the Affordable Care Act in 2014.
Gentile said Prairie Village and the Village Shops proved an attractive destination for the company for a few reasons.
“We felt comfortable that this was a community that was already strongly engaged with wellness and healthy living,” he said. “The Village Shops is also a very accessible location — we felt it would be easy for people to get there.”
Demolition work on the space began in earnest two weeks ago, and Gentile said interior renovations are likely to start in the coming days.