Film and TV

Right Now, Only Two Dallas Blockbusters to Survive. Everyone Else In "Wait and See" Mode.

In the wake of news that Dish Network's looking to keep only a few hundred of Blockbuster's brick-and-mortar locations once the deal's sealed Thursday, several Friends of Unfair Park living in North Dallas have asked: What will become of the Preston Royal location? It's a good question -- not only because it's one of the oldest and busiest in the city (yes, even now), but because for years that was the location in which the company beta-tested its latest gewgaws.

From the looks of court docs filed Saturday, Dish only intends to keep two Dallas Blockbusters: the ones at 3501 McKinney and 4535 Frankford. But that could change: Dish's attorneys have told landlords that nothing's final till Thursday, and that there's a small chance locations not included in the weekend filing will re-appear on the to-keep list come week's end. Which does nothing to settle the frayed nerves of employees at Preston Royal, the normally jam-packed location on Hillcrest across from SMU and the close to 1,000 other locations here and nationwide awaiting Judgment Day.

Jackie Miller Stewart, president of Henry S. Miller Interests Inc., which owns Preston Royal, tells Unfair Park the company started planning for this day long ago: "We've budgeted the property this year with and without a turnover in that space." A Friend of Unfair Park in retail real-estate says it's likely Dish is ditching the Preston Royal and University Park properties, not to mention another busy location at Parker and the Dallas North Tollway, due to high rent.

"We're not too worried about it, as we feel we can lease the space," Stewart says of Preston Royal, which finally lost its across-the-street neighbor Borders Books a few days ago. "It's a great location with fantastic visiblity. In the short term it would definitely be strenuous with the renovation, but in the long term there could be a lot of upside. We're not worried about it. I don't want to say what our preference would be, because at this point, I don't have one. We're in a wait-and-see move and have been for some time.

"But it's been there a long time: That's the sad part -- they tried so hard to make it work, and I do admire them for trying everything they could to make the model work. I still have my Blockbuster account and would be glad for them to stay. We'll wait and see."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky