At the end of last week we spoke with council member Linda Koop about the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce's involvement in doing something, anything with Valley View Center, some or most of which may not be standing by the time LBJ construction's wrapped in five or so years. As Koop explained it: This is about not only the aging, emptying mall, but about the land around it -- 400 acres, she said, though we've since learned it could be a little less ... or slightly more. See? Hard to say.
But this is what interim chamber president Bruce Bradford has to say on the subject. He's far more specific. He uses phrases like "greespace" and "streetscape" and "cycling" and "arts center."
Bradford tells Unfair Park that Steve Taylor, the longtime head of the chamber, actually began convening meetings about the fate of Valley View back in April, inviting, as Koop has explained, surrounding property owners and stakeholders. "The focus," he says, "was on looking at what steps were necessary to begin transforming that area" and, eventually, having someone sketch out a road map for what the land should look like sooner than later. There have been a handful of meetings since then, the most recent only a few days ago.
"The focus at this point is on identifying an internationally renown firm that will be tasked with going forward to create the first visioning document," he says. "That will take several months -- proposals were for four months -- to create that. From that, then some other activities will take place relative to the ultimate zoning of the whole tract of land and how things would develop on a time line. As you said, there are a number of disparate interests at the table, and they are very wide-ranging." A slight chuckle. "That's the next step -- to move forward with that and get the land owners and their reps to write the checks necessary to get that visioning plan."
He says five firms have made pitches to the group. I asked what they're proposing for the land.
"The common theme in all five is that there needs to be a wide variety of uses considered," he says. "There needs to be a greater proportion of greenspace in that part of town than there is now. They're all very sympathetic to the idea that streetscape and the usability by multiple factions will be very high priority, whether they be pedestrian malls or cycling or mass transit ingress and egress. Everyone has taken a very focused point of view on really making this a showcase destination that matches the showcase destination of any great city you can point to."
I asked: Is there any chance that much of the land -- whether it's the mall, the old Doran dealership -- could be scraped clean? Would he like to just start over?
"Those are all possibilities," he says. "Those are some of the visions brought by the design firms. They have shared projects that have been done in places all over the globe. They focus on their domestic work, but they talk about redesigning huge tracts of industrial land in New York and some of the harbor areas that have been transformed into these new hip areas -- and hip, I mean, in terms of great places to live, great places to work, great arts venues. I don't think there's a compelling need for North Dallas to rebuild itself as an arts center, but a lot of things like that, that quality of life concept, can be incorporated into the site and take advantage of its location.
"A lot of the other pieces of town in the last 10, 15 years have been high priorities," he continues. "And this will be vague for a while, but right steps are being taken. We'll look up in five years, perhaps, and 10 to 15 for sure and be proud of the process the group is going through with regards to the amenities and world-class level of what will the results will be there. It's got to be one of the greatest redevelopment opportunities in North Texas and across the U.S., and it'll be great to look back and see the kind of clients who call it home, whether it's the corporate campus of Fortune 50 companies or it turns out to be a more granular project than something as grand as that. The possibilities are limitless. We can't bring mountains or oceans to Valley View, but other than that, the possibilities are limitless."