Moments ago, Bill Nabors at Ecom Real Estate Management confirmed something Unfair Park learned only this afternoon: Come July 1, the Shops at West End Marketplace will be no more. Though there has been no official announcement, Nabors says Ecom decided at the beginning of the year that the 20-year-old mall in the West End was no longer a viable retail space--a fact driven home in recent years, as the 10-screen multiplex, Planet Hollywood, Dallas Cowboys store and other anchor retailers moved out for myriad reasons, leaving the once-thriving mall a desolate island of inactivity. In contrast, the booming 75-acre, $3 billion plus Victory Park development just yards away--with, among other projects, the W Hotel and House of Blues going in--suggested to Ecom that there was another, better use for the Marketplace. Precisely what it might be, Nabors isn't saying yet, except to confirm the building cannot and will not be redeveloped for residential use.
"It just seemed clear there were uses other than retail that would be more productive," Nabors says, adding that he has a "4-foot-high stack of viability studies" on the floor in his downtown office. "The only way to pursue them was to decide to move in another direction, and we've been working hard and fast on them with the July 1 [closing] date pegged. Let me emphasize that construction at Victory is hugely positive, and the West End is on a major upswing as a result... But we can't do residential because that building has wide, deep floor plates, so you can't lay out apartments. You either wind up with a hole in the middle or long, skinny apartments with a window at the end."
Nabors says he hopes to announce the building's next tenant--or tenants--at the end of the summer; there are two proposals being developed, he says, either one of which could end up taking over the building. Of course, it wasn't so long ago that the West End Marketplace was a happening destination: Van Halen played a free outdoor concert there in 1991, Bruce Willis and other celebs poured in for the Planet Hollywood opening shortly after that, Dallas Alley offered a handful of places at which you could eat and drink (and drink), and there was the basement-level arcade for kids and their folks (their folks, mostly). The Antique Angle's one of the coolest stores in town, selling racks of ancient magazines and other collectibles at reasonable prices, and, of course, there's the Fudgery by the front door, where you could watch folks making, ya know, fudge. But at the end of the month, they will be no more--in the West End Marketplace, at least. Sharon Mielke, who moved Antique Angle into the building with her husband two months after its October 1986 opening, says she's surprised there's been no public announcement; it'd be nice for folks to come by and say adios...and maybe help clean out some of the store's estimable stock, before it moves to Grapevine Mills on an interim, "experimental" basis.
"I thought maybe they were waiting to make the annoucement after everybody's gone and just disappears," she says. "But Grapevine Mills has a spot we can try out for six months and see how it works. It's an experiment for us and them too, because we're a different kind of store." And the West End Marketplace was a different kind of mall. And come July 1, it'll be no more mall at all. --Robert Wilonsky
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