Been hearing in recent weeks that there's a plan afoot for the beleaguered Valley View Center, at long last, prompted by the as-predicted sale of the old Macy's to a group of local investors who had the plan commission break up the mall into more manageable puzzle pieces two months back. And it's quite the plan at that, involving not only the mall but also the recently for-sale Doran Chevrolet dealership near LBJ Freeway and the Dallas North Tollway and a razed apartment complex just north of there -- bulldozed after a lengthy court battle with the city over code issues.
All told, the would-be development involves some 400 acres, if not more, bound by Preston Road, LBJ, the toll road and just north of Alpha -- a lot of property. And, a lot of people: Council member Linda Koop confirms that the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, with a little guidance from a very interested City Hall, is spearheading a group of property and business owners in the area to "determine what a vision would be for the area," and that the group includes reps from Target (due to its Monfort location), Sears, neighboring apartment complexes and even the Galleria.
"The city is there for technical support," Koop tells Unfair Park. "We're listening to hear what the vision may be, and they're in the process of hiring an architecture consulting firm to do a visioning plan. That's where we are right now. What I suspect is they'll take a few months and come up with a plan."
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When contracted yesterday, via phone and email, interim chamber president Bruce Bradford said he'd try to call back some time today. Koop says she's not sure at the end of this how much of the mall will remain. Because, after all, not only is Valley View a dying mall, but it's about to be hit -- hard -- by LBJ Express construction, which should last for, oh, five years. "There's no better time" to come up with a plan than now, Koop says.
I asked: Do you see some, if not most or even all, of the mall being demolished at the end of this vision-questing? Absolutely, she said, referring to Cinderella City in Colorado, a built-in-'68 mall torn down in '99. No surprise Koop should have some familiarity with that particular property: Cinderella City came to the council's attention April 2009, after the city spent $120,000 for have the Urban Land Institute study the possibility of giving Southwest Center Mall an extreme makeover.
She expects the 400 acres would be covered, for the most part, with a mixed-use development: "Sears wants to remain there; they think it's a good store," she says. "Some others will remain. But the interior of the mall, which is the part that's not individually owned -- the large stores own their own dirt -- that will be a challenge to do something with. Some properties will remain, some will be gone.
"But I do think there will be some mixed use. It's a huge area and a very prominent area, being on the corner of LBJ and the Tollway. Its time is now. The Galleria is very healthy. They put money into the mall, refreshing the mall and the hotel. They're very active in making sure they're keeping up with the times. And we have apartment and condo owners who are very desirous of helping that area grow into something that's a destination address."