As we noted one month ago, the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce is coordinating efforts to repurpose Valley View Center, which has long been a shadow of a shadow of its former self. Bruce Bradford, the chamber's interim president, and city council member Linda Koop spoke of plans intended to redraw the some 400 acres that include not only the aging mall but the land around it.
As Bradford told Unfair Park only yesterday, those efforts are continuing apace, with HKS Architects having been hired to map out "this visioning process."
But in the midst of that, the new owners of Macy's, which has been shuttered since the beginning of '08, have submitted to the city a building inspection application, dated September 27 and obtained by Unfair Park Wednesday. Its wording is vague, little more than a few initials ("RR," meaning: regional retail) and the promise of "gen merch" filling more than 100,000 square feet. The former department store, says the application, filled 300,300 square feet. (Or, last we looked, around 20 acres.)
The application was filed by Ed Simons, a former city code-enforcement manager at Masterplan Consultants, for whom messages have been left. City officials are unclear what the new owners, a partnership now known as Monfort Mall LLC that includes attorney Lou Lebowitz, intend to do there. When reached late yesterday, Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the Office of Economic Development, said this was the first he'd heard about it. And Koop was just as uncertain: "I am looking into it."
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"They are allowed to have regional retail, which encompasses a huge amount of things," said the council member, whose district includes Valley View Center. "But anything that happens on that site in the next five years will be transitional use, because of the LBJ expansion."
Messages have also been left for Lebowitz.
Bradford also isn't sure what they're up to; representatives of the new ownership have been to some of the chamber's meetings, and "they're aware of the process" taking place, he says. But so far, there haven't been substantive conversations with Monfort Mall LLC's higher-ups about their plans for the former Macy's.
"But at this point, there will likely be a number of interim uses of the various components of this vast tract of land that, over time, will morph into differnet solutions and different uses," says Bradford, a banker. "The real estate concept is 'highest and best use,' and I feel certain that's what each of the property owners and HKS are trying to find. The visioning process ties the economic impact to a social impact -- coming up with a great streetscape, deciding what kind of buildings go on this tract of land versus that tract. All of that will be be clearly thought out, and there will be an ultimate outcome first undertaken by the visioning process and later sculpted into zoning and infrastructure. And over time we'll see any interim uses ultimately set aside. What that time frame is, though, remains anyone's guess."