Why Preston Center (West Half) is Such a Mess. Will It Ever Be Upscale?

Laura Miller house 2

Don’t know if this is Part One of a multi-part series, or a great stand-alone piece, but as promised, Eric Nicholson over at The Dallas Observer asks the question most of us ask as we peruse that stucco jungle of cars, one-way streets, and quite possibly the ugliest parking garage in the US, Preston Center. I am talking Preston Center west side, not east side. That question? Why in the ef is this place such a friggin’ mess when it is nestled between two of the richest neighborhoods in the U.S? Where is the Rodeo Drive-esque strip of cute little pricey stores? Why is it not more like Highland Park Village, or Coral Gables, Florida, where George Merrick once bragged that every business was just two blocks away. Coral Gables Miracle Mile is famous for beautiful designer stores, boutiques, food markets, handcrafted specialties and great clothing. Preston Center west is famous for the skateboarders who slide down the ramp in the old Foleys parking garage.

Truck at Preston center

Eric does a skillful job of explaining how the area came to have multiple owners, how all those owners find it hard to agree on anything, hence nada progress. He also shows how a quirk of real estate history — deeding parking rights to the owners of the real estate surrounding the Preston Center parking garage, aka Skateboard Central, is keeping the status quo:

 Back in 1955, it seems, back when the land was being parceled out to the Lobellos et al, the buyers were promised in their deeds that the land at the center of Preston Center would forever be used for parking and only parking. The settlement the property owners ultimately signed with the city makes clear that they can waive this covenant so long as they come to a unanimous agreement, but that hasn’t — and might never — happen.

Couple things. One, a grocery store is coming to the area, taking over a portion of the second floor of the old Foley’s building. I have not yet confirmed this, but I hear it will be an upscale brand of Tom Thumb. That will be nice, so stay tuned. That discount mecca was always a real estate head-scratcher; the shoe place gives me a headache, but I frequent Marshalls about twice a year.

Second, he didn’t tell us how much Mitchell Rasansky spent suing the owners of the parking garage so the City could take it over — the City of Dallas owns the parking garage, but the property owners are allowed to access easement parking to the benefit of each and every owner. Rasansky thought the City could sell the garage to a developer and pull in several million. Some owners tell me they could reach a consensus and re-develop the garage. Maybe that story’s coming next week.

Anyhow, read Eric’s story. This gives me an excuse to show you Laura Miller’s house on Dentwood. Doesn’t she want to shop in snazzier surroundings to match her 8500 square foot Julio Quinones-designed mansion on 2.08 acres like say, Coral Gables? Or how about a scaled-down Rodeo Drive?

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Instead, we get these leaking relics from the 1950’s and an overdose of cheap discount stores.

Preston Doctors Buildingbuilding

 

Preston Center  Pavillion - Dallas TX

Then, too, there is scuttlebutt that Mark Cuban wants to develop his Preston Hollow lots, two each on Averill Way and Jourdan Way, the Jourdan Way (love the name of that street) that winds right up to Northwest Highway. Cuban started buying this dirt back in 1988, the latest acquisition in 2012. One lot has a house. Neighbors are petrified that Cuban might want to develop this area into a chic shopping strip a la Coral Gables. After all, there is Ebby’s Little White House next door, which was once the 1500 Marilla Street-equivalent of  the Village of Preston Hollow. The area is zoned residential. Cuban told Eric “Nothing definitive,” last February —  “I get and liste[n] to offers all the time but I’m in no rush to do anything.” I think he’d be smart to forget commercial, build a few mega mansions behind some gorgeous gates, with pearls.

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Mark Cuban's PHprop (5)

Mark Cuban's PHprop (3)

Mark Cuban's PHprop (1)

4 Comment

  • The signage is horrendous; so are the traffic patterns.
    That being said, I do think the center serves a purpose.
    The entire Northwest Expressway/Preston Road corridor can’t be upscale. There needs to be somewhat of a practical mix of retail thrown in there SOMEWHERE.
    For each member of the Park Cities/Preston Hollow set that exclusively shops Highland Park Village, I’d bet there are two that have a regular shopping trip down that escalator at Marshalls (even if it is just for children’s clothing) or heads over to DSW searching for a one-wear pair of shoes.
    It is all about presentation – that is something the west side of Preston Center lacks.
    There is no atmosphere, no continuity in signage or exterior design.
    It is amazing what some better lighting in that dungeon of a garage and some green space near the sidewalks could do to make the property look more cohesive to the rest of the area.

  • I agree w/ Bill 2000%. All the affordable restaurants would disappear. Much of HP is upset over the “Rodeo” limitations of that wonderful place. I’d hate to have that morph to PC West. Leave it alone.

  • I agree that the parking garage is in kind of sorry shape, but other than that, I think it really serves a purpose. I go to Preston Center West frequently and enjoy it. I like the middle of the road and downscale restaurants. Like Bill and ccryder say, it really serves a purpose in the area. It can be improved but I would hate to see it go. Highland Park Village has gotten a lot more suffocating now that they kicked out Banana Republic and are trying to kick out the rest of the middle and upper-middle stuff. We don’t really need any more Northpark and Highland Park Village type stores in that area. I do miss the Texas de Brazil Express that was there. I know a lot of Parkies enjoy Flying Fish and that is pretty humble.

  • I think it could absolutely look more cohesive and attractive and should! Tuesday Morning and the luggage store, beauty supply, etc… all need to upgrade their appearance but it DOES serve a purpose and I’d rather leave it alone than for more luxury shopping to come in. We don’t need it. We need places to go in sweats and flip flops please!