Who doesn’t like a bit of demolition in the morning?

A hot, sweaty Friday groundbreaking seemed the perfect bookend to Dallas Midtown’s four years of sweating through politics and planning. It’s not that the city didn’t want it — heck, the renderings and plans are a wonderful and productive reimagining of what had become another tumbledown mall unable to compete in today’s retail environment.  Given the news stories lately about the demise of retail, it surely won’t be the last air-conditioned ghost town to give way to today’s vision of progress.

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midtown rendering

A rendering of Dallas Midtown, the dream of developer Scott Beck, four years in the making, starts with the demolition of Valley View Mall. (Courtesy Photo)

It was your typical teenage hotspot in the 1980s and 1990s. Built in 1973, Valley View Mall was where parents would deposit their AquaNet-lacquered and brace-faced progeny to mill about the then hip and trendy, completely air conditioned homage to American consumerism.

Now, we have internet shopping, and the days of mallrats are slowing to a creep. In fact, Valley View Mall has been all but empty save for a few small-time retailers, an open-source type of art gallery, and a movie theater as anchor. But that’s all coming to an end this year, as developer Scott Beck has finally gotten the go-ahead to start swinging the wrecking balls like Miley Cyrus.

In its place, Beck wants to build a sprawling mixed-use development called Midtown, though a many Dallasites are still iffy on that name. The development, which we previewed three years ago as Beck released the first renderings, will activate longest continuous tract north of 635 that has sat sadly vacant, an eyesore for more than a few years.

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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