In this rendering from Cunningham Architects, you can see the 34,000-square-foot REI campus that will open this spring across from the Half Price Books flagship store on Northwest Highway and Shadybrook.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should go ahead and say that my husband works for Half Price Books. But honestly, I’d be a fan of the company regardless. I’ve always been interested in how Pat Anderson grew a company from a 1,000-square-foot laundromat into a national brand, all without relinquishing the used bookstore feel that makes the brand so familiar and cool. And while the company knows how to run a successful chain of paperback-filled, nostalgia-laden stores, is it ready for the world of real estate?

As you may know, Half Price Books is developing the lot opposite of its flagship store at Shadybrook and Northwest Highway. Outdoor retailer REI has already committed to anchoring the development with a 34,000-square-foot store set to open March 3, and there is an additional 13,000 square feet for other retail. Designed by Cunningham Architects, the center will definitely stand out with a cool modern facade.

It’s all in a very unique part of Dallas, Vickery Meadow, which is mostly dense apartment communities roughly bounded by Greenville Avenue on the west, Northwest Highway on the south, Park Lane to the north, and Skillman on the east. It’s a very ethnically diverse area that is sorely lacking quality retail, and is yet over-populated with bodegas, check-cashing stores, and sketchy corner stores.

“Half Price Books has always had a great relationship with Vickery Meadow residents, and we’re excited to help bring more retail options to the area,” said Half Price Books Executive Vice President Kathy Doyle Thomas. “Every Sunday this fall, we hosted the Vickery Meadow Local Market in the parking lot of our Half Price Books Flagship store. Our neighbors, businesses in the area, and the city of Dallas are very excited about our new development.”


REI and Trader Joes, Too?

Why? Because these are the lucky ‘hoods that get the first Trader Joes in Dallas. I am so psyched. My dogs are so psyched. Teresa Gubbins and others report that Trader Joe’s has announced two new locations for stores, one in Dallas and one in Plano.

The Dallas store will open on Lower Greenville Avenue where the Arcadia Theater once stood. The Plano store will open in an old Kroger location at Preston and Park, in the same shopping center as outdoorsy store REI.

Speaking of REI, I have been meaning to tell you that one is also coming to the primo shopping center at Walnut Hill Lane and Central Expressway. I learned this at a holiday party and word was Trader Joes’ might still open a store there, too. But the guys in Preston Hollow are pretty psyched about having an REI so very close by!

As you may recall, those 42 acres are considered the best commercial dirt in town. They were owned by Wells Fargo bank from a foreclosure on Provident Realty Group in 2009. The neighbors have been quite concerned about and watching over that property. The property was purchased in October, 2010 by a partnership set up by Kroenke Holdings of Columbia, Mo. Kroenke Holdings, a private owner and developer of properties including shopping centers and apartments, is owned by billionaire sports team owner E. Stanley Kroenke who is married to Ann Walton. Maybe that means a WalMart is sure to pop up.

Looks like Stan and Ann are taking over the whole darn hood: Kroenke also just bought 80 acre MidTown Park, at Meadow and Central about a half mile north of the Walnut Hill/Central spot. It was  in a receivorship.

Last year, the neighbors expressed their concerns over any changes to the mixed-use zoning:

“As most of you know, the 42-acre property at the northwest corner of Walnut Hill and Central Expressway that was owned by Provident Realty Advisors was foreclosed on by Wells Fargo late last year. Because the Wells Fargo loan pre-dated the private deed restrictions (“PDR”) that The Meadows, Glen Lakes and Windsor Park had collectively negotiated with Provident, the PDR has been negated. However, the zoning that we negotiated remains in place (see www.themeadowsna.org for a copy of the approved zoning).  Because of continued support from our City Council representative and the expectation that any future owner will likely seek changes to the existing zoning, we believe we will have reasonable influence in what ultimately transpires on the site.  As a reminder, current zoning includes, among other things, a requirement that the western-most 385 feet (approximately 17 acres) be solely residential, with no more than 140 residences that must be townhomes (rather than condos, apartments, etc). Wells Fargo has recently opened up bidding for the site.

The Joint Task Force (made up of representatives from The Meadows, Glen Lakes and Windsor Park) will continue to work with potential developers on behalf of our respective neighborhoods. The JTF is currently taking the approach that, rather than express upfront what our neighborhoods want on the site, we will wait and see what the future owner/developer has in mind.”