Midtown Valley View

Valley View Shopping Center is shaping up on paper like a Victoria’s Secret glossy ad, but one thing’s for sure: it may never again look like the Valley View Mall many of us grew up with! I will never forget the opening of Bloomingdales over there, how cool was that? Alas, now Valley View is suffering behind the road hell that is LBJ is and you almost cannot even see it anymore. But like I tell myself every time my tires touch LBJ, this too shall pass and something way better will be here. Well, after a year working closely with the City of Dallas, neighborhood stakeholders and internationally respected architects, i.e. everyone, Beck Ventures is giving us a first look at detailed plans for the transformation of Dallas Midtown. And it is, to say the least, ambitious!

Dallas Midtown gondolas

Yes, that is a gondola! Dallas Midtown will soon be a community within a community, another depot for shopping, entertainment, working, high density living or gondola riding.

The plan covers all the land from Galleria Dallas on the west to Preston Road on the east, and from LBJ Freeway on the south to even a couple of blocks north of Alpha Road. Over the next couple decades – yes, twenty years — about 60 percent of the existing buildings could be torn down.

Eventually, the potentially $10 billion project could include 14 million square feet of commercial —  30 story high-rise office commercial towers,  mixed-use and residential buildings, green space including a park four times the size of Klyde Warren Park, and the “entertainment destination” still holding the last prime remnants of the old mall. More than 10,000 people potentially could live there.

Scott Beck, you may recall, is the dude who purchased the rather sorry Valley View Shopping Center last year, and has sworn $2 billion to revive the largest continuous tract north of 635 into a vibrant, bustling center of activity. If you don’t remember, read up on my interview with him here. It’s called Midtown even though it’s not really in the middle of Dallas. In fact, if we looked at a map of Dallas, what would be “Midtown”? University Park? Highland Park Village? I don’t think it really matters because everyone’s perception is that the intersection of LBJ and Preston Road is the middle of Dallas. I like the name. Sorry!

Yes, Scott has big plans to revamp “Midtown” but also connect it to the city. There will be hike and bike trails connecting to White Rock Lake, the parks, open spaces, a trolley system and Gondola rides to Galleria (what? Don’t drop me on LBJ!), interactive water features throughout the development, including a wave pool and Ariel Show Fountains, two luxury hotels, upscale condos and rental apartments, office towers, 16 screen movie theater, boutiques, restaurant and entertainment venues.

Ariel Show Fountains? Are we thinking The Bellagio? That is exactly what they are planning at BahaMar in Nassau.

“Since our firm first announced the acquisition of Valley View Mall, the interest in this project has been unprecedented. We are attracting national and international attention. We are honored to be stewards of a crucial transformational project of this scale. The city of Dallas and our elected officials have been fantastic partners in helping this vision become a reality, ” says Scott Beck. The young president of Beck Ventures is bringing in some never-seen-befores, like a seven-story glass enclosed European style market. He says he’s focusing intently on details, and when people come to Dalla Midtown, they won’t want to leave.

Dllas Midtown glass

City Hall seems pretty pumped, as it would thinking of the expanding tax base cha-ching cha-ching. But, as The Dallas Morning News reports, this immense project will require millions for infrastructure — new sewers, water lines and roads. It will require police and protection. It is yet to be seen if the Dallas Plan Commission is on board.

“This development will create a city within a city. With restaurants, shopping, housing and office space, Dallas Midtown will completely redefine this part of Dallas, ” said Linda Koop, Dallas City Council, in the press release.

“Dallas Midtown will become a major economic driver for the city of Dallas. It will strengthen our tax base and help our city lure and retain corporate headquarters. This is an extremely desirable site and this is the perfect way to develop it,” dittoed Tennell Atkins, Dallas City Council, also in the press release.

I am so excited about this project. I mean, did you ever think you’d see a park in Dallas over a highway? I can imagine the Tweets: Let’s GG: gondola to the Galleria.

Dallas Midtown overviewImage 1

 

OmniPlan Midtown Rendering

Every time I drive by the practically abandoned Valley View Mall, I let out a little sigh. It’s just so ugly! The only thing that attracts a crowd over there is the random carnival. It’s tragic, especially for such a visible area.

But Scott Beck, who purchased Valley View last year, has sworn to revive the largest continuous tract north of 635 into a vibrant, bustling center of activity. If you don’t remember Beck, read up Candy’s interview with him here.

It’s a good thing that there are plans for the area, which is being called “Midtown” even though it’s not really in the middle of Dallas. I’ll let the semantics surrounding the name slide just for the fact that I am excited about reclaiming that area. The excitement must be catching, because Theresa O’Donnell, City of Dallas Sustainable Development director, is pretty stoked, too.

According to a report from Robert Wilonsky at the DMN, O’Donnell thinks this is “the most exciting thing I’ve ever been involved in.” Why? “This is doable, it’s achievable, and all the stars are aligned.”

Today’s presentation, which you can view a PDF of below, is just a taste. More details will be available on April 4. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the development, and how the city is going to foster a dense, pedestrian friendly environment in an area sandwiched by two major traffic thoroughfares — the Dallas North Tollway and 635.

Still, anything is better than how Valley View looks today, right?

03-21-2013 – Valley View Galleria Area CPC Briefing by Robert Wilonsky

Effective yesterday, children 17 years old and younger will no longer be allowed to independently cruise NorthPark Center after 6 p.m. The new curfew comes as part of a set of new policies instituted at the upscale Dallas mall that also includes restrictions on language and attire.

It’s about time. Could the pendulum be swinging back? Or will the kids just go over to the about to be majorly nipped and tucked Valley View?

NorthPark spokesman Mark Annick said the updated policies were not in response to a specific incident, but reflect a growing trend nationwide. Last January, a malicious group beating of a high school student created quite a stir, again, about NorthPark safety, but the actual incident did not take place at NorthPark.

But Annick insisted that though the new curfew may be new in Dallas,  it’s really not so new around the country, and similar policies are in place at other malls.

Oh, and the curfew will not apply to movie-goers, who will be permitted to go in and out of the AMC Theater, presumably for drop-offs and pick-ups, inside the mall until 11 p.m. Sunday — Thursday, and until 12:01 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Also exempt:  NorthPark employees under the age of 18.

Kids under the age of 18 work there?

Will this all mean more work for NorthPark security? Probably. Security officers will ask children to produce an acceptable form of ID, or produce a nearby guardian is nearby, or risk being asked ever so nicely to leave. So you might get a call to come pick your kid up.

What if they cannot find the parents? In my experience, kids who are dropped off to roam malls usually have parents who are not all that available. Will NorthPark create a recreation room?

Will this extra cost be passed onto the consumers? Inquiring minds.

 

 

 

 

Artists and live music on Saturdays and a five star hotel? A viable urban village at one of the country’s busiest intersections?

Scott Beck grew up at Valley View Mall, the same mall he bought about a week ago. Well, not actually in the mall, but within two miles of it, near Beltline Road and Preston. Translation: he was a North Dallas kid. He recalls vividly going to Tilt at Valley View with his brother and playing at the arcade for hours.

His father, Jeff, is in the commercial real estate business and supported his kids, Scott, Jarrod and a sister, through real estate. Scott went to Greenhill. After graduating with a business degree (M.B.A.) from the University of Texas, he cut his financial teeth on Wall Street over at private equity then JP Morgan Chase. Then he came back home to Dallas to settle down, get married, and join the burgeoning family biz. In 1994, the Beck family bought the last 1200 acres at Trophy Club, a 24oo acre development in northeast Tarrant County that is actually the first master planned community in Texas and was originally designed for retiree. Today it is highly sought for families. In fact, just last week I met a young couple who want to buy in Trophy Club because they think the schools are great and the homes generous.

And now Scott owns 60 acres at the corner of Preston and LBJ, a dilapidated shopping center he plans to transform into a thriving master planned community along the lines of Legacy in Plano with the authenticity of the crafts shops and restaurants of Bishop Arts, and the age and spending demographics of Uptown. In fact, he up and hired the same architect who created Legacy, Mike Twitchell.

“This is the precipice of a renaissance for this area of North Dallas,” said Scott.”A centralized urban village.”

We all know the shopping center of yesteryear is dead as we know it — the shopping center that Valley View is in its current state. They were by products of a suburban society. Teenagers cannibalized them, and internet shopping drove the final stake. Prestonwood Mall, R.I.P. I admit, I hadn’t been to Valley View in YEARS — maybe I went to Sears to look for a refrigerator, but I honestly think the last time I set foot in Valley View, Bloomingdales was still there, and I do not mean the new discount Bloomies over on Park Lane. The mall is not dead, said Scott, and he challenged me to go see it for myself as he nibbled a Wetzel pretzel he had just picked up.

He was right. It’s not NorthPark or Galleria for sure, but it’s not dead.

Beck knows he cannot revive Valley View in its present form, those days are gone. He can bring in some cool stores and maybe get back some folks who go to Willow Bend or Stonebriar for what they used to get at Valley View. Maybe he’ll poach some traffic from the Galleria across the way, or NorthPark, Dallas’ shopping mecca, with some neat tenants. But the Valley View story, he told me, is just beginning.

“This is the largest contiguous piece of property in the area,” he says. “Preston Road to Noel, Alpha to 635.”

It will take time, it will have to marinate, but he says he wants the conversation to start toote suite, like today, on what the best possible use can be of this space as he closes a chapter on the largest closed air mall in Dallas and re-shapes it into a modern urban environment. In effect, another live-work-play-shop-eat-entertain community about 12 to 15 miles north of downtown CBD Dallas. And he wants everyone involved in the discussion –social, public, private, partnerships, the city, neighbors, arts and real estate segments.

Art?

We can see the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge prominently in the horizon, looking due south from the sixth (top) floor at Valley View Tower, 13101 Preston, the office building on the very northwest corner of Preston and LBJ, one of the busiest intersections in North Texas,  where Scott now offices. Built in 1977, the last owners filed Chapter 11 in 2009. Several floors here have already been transformed into prime office space with new surfaces, gleaming bathrooms and even an exercise studio on the first floor that employees actually use.  Look at this view, says Scott, and picture living here in a luxury high rise adjacent to a luxury five star hotel like a St. Regis.

The name Midtown: it was two years in the making, emanated from discussions with the City, Jones Lang LaSalle all calling it the Midway project. If you bubble it south of LBJ you think, um no, that is North Dallas. But really, Valley View is where North Dallas begins and stretches north for miles. Valley View is also “midway” between the Tollway and Central, sort of, but when you look at it in relation to the whole city, the name makes more sense. We are, says Beck, naming an area of the city.

Which is why he wants everyone to buy into the concept. What Beck envisions: several million square feet of office space, office towers, office above retail. The usual development hierarchy is entertainment (play) and related restaurants, living, working and shopping components; Beck is starting with living and playing. One of the first developments he wants to leap into is affordable live/work housing for artists, kind of like that at the Dallas Design District. This way, artists could begin building an interactive community almost immediately.

“Imagine,” says Beck, “that you who have lived in North Dallas or Preston Hollow all your life wants to move to a multi-family or high rise, higher density living, but you don’t want to move downtown to do it.”

The stores I’ve always shopped are here, he says, not downtown. My family is nearby. So would I live in a new high rise at LBJ and Preston because Preston Royal and Whole Foods are just two major intersections away?

Maybe. Definitely more familiar territory, which provides a comfort level. After all, the only other high rise condo north of LBJ is the Bonadventure, which struggled for years, high density living way ahead of it’s time.

For now he is focused on the existing mall, where they are writing leases up to 3 years. Tenants can transition to new spaces. To be clear, the Valley View we know today will be gone, replaced by streets where we maybe got Fruit of the Loom briefs or a Liz Claiborne jacket. The eventual two billion dollar transformation will cater to a younger demographic, age 21 to 35, single or newly married, big-time disposable income who eat out a lot and go to movies, frequent specialty boutiques and want entertainment at their fingertips. Get the message: active — bike and walk trails, gyms, jogging paths, tress, water, gorgeous landscaping. They can live at Dallas Midtown, or park underground.

Which leads us to another discussion: how will Dallas Midtown connect with the rest of the city, like public transportation? Beck doesn’t yet know what it will be, or in what form, but he envisions a mode of public transportation within the 400 acres. Of course, Dallas is, to me, still very much a car city and will be so for a long time. I find downtown extremely pedestrian unfriendly, which is why I wonder why, outside of the Arts District, anyone would want to walk it. That is one reason why the planned centers like West Village have exploded. They were actually planned, they didn’t slap another building up next to an existing keep going. The best we may hope to accomplish in my opinion is drive, park and contain your environment as much as possible. Young families still favor the suburbs for better schools, four bedrooms for $150 to 300K.  And there is only so much affluence to go around.

“I see half the population density of downtown Dallas here,” says Beck. Downtown Dallas is at a density of about 1200 people per square mile. “This is an evolving project. Take a look at what you see now, because in ten years, you won’t recognize this intersection.”

 

 

 

Valley View Mall has apparently been purchased by the Jeff Beck family, who plans to turn the hollow, seemingly vacated, 39 year old mall into an outdoor complex called “Dallas Midtown.” According to WFAA-TV,  a press conference at 10 a.m will reveal further details. This will be a $2 billion project along the lines of the hyper successful The Shops at Legacy and Bishop Arts, so reports the Dallas Morning News. The plan is to bring restaurants, retail stores, office towers, a high-rise hotel and condos, all for those who want to live in the heart of a new outdoor complex in North Dallas. It’s a great location, I mean, LBJ will be repaired one of these days, right? Just last night I was talking to a developer who tells me there will be a projected 450,000 – 500,000 vehicles per day on LBJ by 2020. It seems like there are at least that many on it right now, but personally I am finding the 114 mess at the north entrance to D/FW far worse than LBJ. Originally built in 1969, LBJ was designed to carry 180,000 vehicles per day. Right now it’s holding 270,000.

Bishops Arts is doing well, and Jeff Beck is the guy who developed Trophy Club. His brother, Scott Beck, says the center is not really as hollow as we think, it’s 55 to 65% leased. So what will this mean for North Dallas real estate? Will we actually say “Meet you at Dallas Midtown” instead of “Valley View”?

 

 

 

 

John F. Rhodes/Staff Photographer In today’s Dallas Morning News (staff photograph here by John F. Rhodes) is a great story about the fate of  Valley View Mall. As you may know, there is a five-year expansion project underway for LBJ and the 38-year old shopping center, which is in default and up for sale by its creditors, will be razed to make better economic use of the property.

What do you think will be built in ValleyView’s place? Tall office towers? Apartments and condos? Perhaps a planned urban living area where residents could walk to everything within a one or two mile radius?

I remember Valley View Mall as the Queen she once was: Sanger Harris which became Foleys, and Bloomingdales chose Valley View for its only store in Dallas. Of course, that didn’t last long. As the giant department stores folded one into the other, and as shopping centers became the wastelands of America — gathering spots for snotty, loitering teenagers, magnets for crime, Valley View added in a movie theater which may have generated some income while the stores continued to drop off. As I learned at the Urban Land Institute, Gen Y cannibalizes American shopping centers: they shop and spend money on line, but hang out with friends at shopping centers where they consume nothing but A/C and toilet paper.

Valley View’s owner, Macerich Co., walked on a $125 million note a year ago, and word is the lot will be son for less than what’s owed the creditors.

So let’s steer forward ten years: that dusty LBK expansion is finished, we have stopped re-routing ourselves to DFW on Royal Lane, what do we see in the place of Valley View Mall?

Colorado

Las Cruces

Photo courtesy Las Cruces CVB

Editor’s Note: Recently, MoneyWise revealed its list of the 40 most frugal and friendly places to retire. In a bid to provide an idea of what housing inventory is available in these cities and towns, we’re taking a look at listings in each of the cities on the list.

Not everyone can spend $1 million or more on a second home, even if it’s with the idea that eventually you’ll retire there. So when MoneyWise’s list of 40 places to retire that are more budget-friendly came out, we were curious — what kind of homes could you find in these towns?

Last week, we looked at the 25th city on the list — Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This week, we look at Las Cruces, New Mexico, and found three great homes — all for less than $175,000.

(more…)