Lewisville’s Vista Ridge Mall has a new owner and a new name: Music City Mall Lewisville. ICA Properties, an Odessa-based real estate management company, purchased the floundering, 1.05 million-square-foot Vista Ridge Mall for $17.3 million through an online auction in September.
ICA is planning to attract tenants and shoppers to the mall with live music, something it's done before. It opened its first Music City Mall in Odessa in the early 2000s. The company's CEO, John Bushman, says he can revitalize the Lewisville mall just as he did the one in Odessa, which was originally called Permian Mall, by booking live, local music daily. A grand stage is being built on the mall's second level for that purpose.
“We always have and will continue to advertise all the time for any aspiring big league artists to come display their wares, whether it’s singing, banjo playing or ventriloquists, or whatever their particular skill or talent is,” Bushman says.
Music City Mall Lewisville had its first auditions for local entertainers Saturday. “We have already had several local artists come and perform, and they have all been very good and very well received,” says Richard Morton, the mall's general manager.
Jimmy Emery, a local pianist, has played a few gigs there already. He used one of the mall’s new grand pianos, which sits next to the 35-foot-tall Christmas tree on the center court stage.
When Vista Ridge opened its doors in '89, it was Lewisville’s largest shopping complex, but in recent years, the shopping center has struggled to keep its doors open. At the time of writing, the mall has 130 stores and four anchor tenants: Dillard’s, Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penney. It also has a Cinemark theater.
James Kunke, Lewisville's community relations and tourism director, says Vista Ridge was in receivership for about a year until ICA dished out the highest bid and made the purchase.
“The mall has needed some investment over the past few years and unfortunately has not received it, and it has fallen behind in the market,” Kunke says. “So we are very happy to see a new owner come in who has experience with retail and is willing to put some money into that property.”
When ICA purchased Vista Ridge, 72 percent of the mall was leased. Since the company’s takeover, the mall’s lease occupancy has already risen to about 75 percent, Morton says.
Bushman says his company is prepared to spend $2 million to $4 million on repairs and facility upgrades, such as the stage, pianos and 65-inch TV monitors displayed throughout the shopping center. He says ICA first learned Vista Ridge was being auctioned through Ten-X, an online real estate marketplace. ICA representatives visited Vista Ridge to have a preliminary look and take photographs of the property.
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“We thought, ‘Well, this might be an opportunity to buy a good asset at a reasonable number,’” Bushman says.
In addition to the new entertainment, Bushman has plans for another unusual feature: two statues with the Ten Commandments. Similar statues appear at all of ICA's properties, which include Odessa's mall and several hotels in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.
The Lewisville mall will have a 5-by-8-foot, 800-pound granite statue engraved with the Ten Commandments on the first floor and a second statue depicting Bushman's two favorite commandments on the second floor.
Bushman says he hopes the monuments, which he intends to reflect the mall's family values, will be ready in time for Christmas.
“We’re not getting into cutting anyone else’s religion down,” Bushman says. “All we are trying to do is expose love, peace and hope for anybody who might gaze across those while they’re shopping at the mall.”