NorthPark Center; Dallas, Texas

Northpark Center art in Dallas, TX

One of the basic rules governing continued success in the realm of modern enclosed malls seems to be constant change through renovations, expansions, and other innovations in the face of increasing competition.  Even if we ignore the implications and realities of the current recession, enclosed malls have gotten short shrift throughout the past decade as developers have oversaturated the retail landscape with big box power centers, ‘Lifestyle Centers’ and strip malls galore.  Outdoor, ‘Lifestyle’ malls continue to be planned and constructed at a breakneck pace, even in extreme climates, and there are only a few enclosed malls currently either planned or in construction today across the United States.  This oversaturation has resulted in massive problems across the country, such as urban blight and greyfields as there are more boxes than box stores to fill them, and sites only a decade or two old go fallow as new construction appears. 

More importantly, as developers and shoppers alike have decided the traditional enclosed shopping mall was ‘out’, the extant landscape of shopping malls across the country has gone into a paniced frenzy to stay viable.  Second- and third-tier malls have either languished or reinvented themselves as complements – such as discount malls – to first-tier malls, and many first-tier malls have gone through extensive renovations, expansions, and innovations – such as ‘Lifestyle’ outdoor additions – in order to remain competitive.  NorthPark Center - Dallas’ premier first-tier mall with 225 stores on three levels – has not been immune to the challenges facing enclosed malls in today’s retail market.  However, how the owners of NorthPark chose to innovate their continued success is not only unique – but fascinating when juxtaposed with traditional methods.

Northpark Center in Dallas, TXBefore NorthPark became Dallas’ premier upscale destination, it was a 97-acre cotton field on the northern edge of Dallas.  In the early 1960s, the cotton field was purchased by art connoisseur and developer Raymond Nasher, who had big things in mind.  In 1965, NorthPark Center opened with great fanfare – at the time, it was said to be the largest climate-controlled center of its kind. 

NorthPark opened in 1965 with a simple, minimalist design featuring clean lines and a one-level L shape.  Dallas architectural firm Omniplan designed the mall with bright natural light, scrubbed concrete floors and white brick walls, a marked departure from more elaborate or fanciful designs.  One reason for the minimalist design was Nasher’s love for modern and pop art, as the mall showcased works by Warhol, as well as other famous artists Lichtenstein, Borofsky and others.  NorthPark received the American Institute of Architects Award for “Design of the Decade – 1960s” – and again won accolade in 1992 with AIA’s 25-year award for Design Excellence.  Other commercial centers have featured public art, but Nasher’s influence brought a contemporary collision between commercialism and modern art – and in the 1960s these were one in the same, so it was a perfect and natural fit.  The exterior of the center’s L-shape featured eloquently manicured, landscaped lawns with trees, and was a great place to sit for a picnic, or to people watch.    

As the years and decades progressed, NorthPark was well poised to become one of two – the other being Galleria Dallas – Dallas area ‘showcase’ malls, and it became just as destinational as a tourist attraction as it was a shopping venue.  Even as NorthPark reached a plateau of success, the owners of the mall – the original Nasher family who designed it in the first place – decided to embark upon a long-whispered about expansion of the mall, completing the mall’s four sides from an L into a square shape.  The new expansion, which began in 2005, brought a two-level mallway along with a Barneys New York and a flagship Nordstrom, a third level 16-screen AMC theatres, and a brilliant food court with an outside seating area in the middle of the inside seating area; the expansion was complete in Spring 2006.  

Northpark Center food court in Dallas, TXBalking today’s renovation trends which employ the same sterile materials and designs, the Nashers amazingly decided to build the mall’s expansion in the exact same style as the 40-year-old extant structure, using the exact same materials and the exact same architectural firm - Omniplan.  As a result, the two-level expansion is a seamless transition from the older part which was built in 1965; the same white brick walls, clean lines, and polished floors were used.  In addition, the theme of public art was continued throughout the 2005 addition, featuring a giant orange sculpture by Mark di Suvero, as well as works by Claes Oldenburg and others.  In addition, Bookmarks, a children’s library, the only of its kind in a mall, features a modern pop-art design and is also by Omniplan.  Visitors can also relax in CenterPark, an outdoor landscaped garden featuring Live Oaks and other native Texas fauna, which is in the middle of the mall’s square design.

Today, NorthPark Center, at 2.3 million square feet, is the largest shopping center in the Dallas area and the 19th largest in the country.  Featuring anchor stores Neiman Marcus, Dillards, Macys, and Nordstrom – and junior anchors Barney New York and Robb & Stucky furniture – NorthPark is an exciting, vibrant old-meets-new design that is functional as well as kitschy.  With 25 million annual visitors, it is also one of the Dallas/Fort Worth area’s top tourist attractions, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

We visited NorthPark in July 2005 – before the renovation opened – and again in January 2009 – after it was completed.  Our 2009 visit was, very coincidentally, the same day actor Kevin James was visiting the mall in character as “Paul Blart” promoting his mall cop movie of the same name.  At any rate, enjoy these pictures of the clean, cool lines and architecural gem that is NorthPark Center, and feel free to leave comments.

2005 photos, original 1965 mall (first one shows the expansion under construction):

northpark-center-07.JPG northpark-center-06.JPG northpark-center-05.JPG

northpark-center-04.JPG northpark-center-03.JPG northpark-center-02.JPG

northpark-center-01.JPG

2009 photos, exterior shots:

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

2009 photos, 2005-06 expansion:

NorthPark Center directory in Dallas, TX northpark-center-20.jpg northpark-center-21.jpg

northpark-center-22.jpg NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

2009 photos, original 1965 mall:

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX

 

45 Responses to “NorthPark Center; Dallas, Texas”

  1. What’s that, a Sonic in their food court? I’m SO there!!

    [Reply]

  2. I know I’ve seen Sonic in food courts before, and at least one Checkers. I forget where, though.

    [Reply]

    Judy Reply:

    @Bobby, Stonebriar Center in Frisco TX has a Sonic in the food court. I’m sure there are more here in the DFW area.

    [Reply]

  3. What a beautiful mall! It is truly a work of art that I can appreciate, being a fan of the type of artistry that is displayed in this mall. It’s also refreshing to see you guys do articles on both dead AND living malls. So many other sites focus so much on the dead malls, it kind of helps people forget about the ones that are still alive and still truly beautiful. Well done, guys!

    [Reply]

  4. Wow! It wears its age with pride and doesn’t fall in to the retro-nostalgia crap trap. Why can’t all malls be this tasteful? (Phipps Plaza I’m looking at you….)

    [Reply]

  5. Kind of reminds me of South Coast Plaza with those skylights.

    [Reply]

  6. The NorthPark Center is a success story as malls go and it’s no surprise that it is still so wildly popular. It’s right next to the Park Cities area, where most of Dallas’ elite live, and nearly any time of day it’s pretty busy. I used to work nearby, and on occasion would go with coworkers to eat at the food court, which was always packed. I think the combination of tenants is perfectly matched to the residents of Highland Park and University Park, with upscale shops and anchors like Neiman’s, Barney’s, and Nordstrom. This is a mall that has been well planned, and well managed over the years. Other mall owners should study how NorthPark has kept its offerings consistent with its customers’ needs and they’d probably be more successful. Rather than trying to fill spaces with just anyone that will pay rent, they’ve done well with keeping tenants that go with their plan. This mall is a great example of how to match a mall to its surroundings.

    [Reply]

  7. Oh, and fans of the artwork should know that those big steel cutout guys move! They’re motorized and they swing their hammers and stuff, it’s pretty cool but also slightly cheesy at the same time. Either way, it’s very unique. The ParkCities have this type of art throughout, in shopping centers and other public areas.

    [Reply]

  8. Oh wow, that’s pretty funny that they used the same firm/designers for the expansion. But seriously, a Sonic in a food court, awesome.

    [Reply]

  9. Is the location of the AMC the former sight of Lord & Taylor ? That’s what I recall reading some time ago.

    [Reply]

  10. Barney’s took over most of the Lord & Taylor space. The rest went to Robb & Stucky, the furniture retailer

    [Reply]

  11. I think someone forgot to shrink the thumbnails again. This page took over a minute to load, and i have cable.

    [Reply]

  12. I love how seemless the expansion is in design to the original mall. If only other malls followed this pattern. (That means you, oh glorious Natick Collection!) The white bricks are quite an unusual feature, and I love how they sort of create a frame effect around each retailer with the crowns (right terminology ?) Anyway, this mall is beautifully retro, modern, and classic all at the same time if thats possible, with the incorporation of the white bricks to add a historical touch to the minimalistic design. I’d love to go visit the mall someday.

    [Reply]

  13. Thanks Paul.

    I went to the Rob & stucky location @ town Square Las Vegas last October to look around. They have nice room settings for the most part, but I’m more a Crate & Berrel guy. Having said that it should be noted that Rob & Stucky is the home furnishings vender for the City Center development, as one of the sales persons told me. It has been tough on them do to lack of condo sales, & this was last year before AIG & all that finantial bullshit came down.

    [Reply]

  14. Retro yet up to date. I’ve read about this mall previously to being posted here on labelscars, but never seen inside. More retail should follow what NorthPark Center has done.

    a) family owned
    b) retro, with modern elements
    c) pieces of art inside, and integrated through seamless architecture.

    Sonic seems a bit weird to be in a food court, but keep in mind the Houston Galleria has one as well, and both centers are in Texas. As for anywhere else in a food court, I am unaware.

    [Reply]

  15. My local mall has a Sonic, but it’s kind of overpriced, limited, and recently shut down temporarily due to health violations. Like The Galleria, NorthPark Center, etc., the mall is in Texas, too. I was going to submit it eventually (the mall is POST OAK MALL)

    [Reply]

  16. So beautiful…one of my favorite mall designs.

    [Reply]

  17. wow i mean a library in a mall just really good the best we have is a barnes and noble in a crummy mall that you ought to be looking at chesterfield towne center in chesterfield va i mean it’a a good candiite for a dead mall or close to it, with at least three ancher stores closed the first one’s a former profitts store retro-fitted into a dilards now closed, the second one’s a former leggets-belk retro-fitted into yet another dillards also closed & the piece de restance an abonded circuit city store just closed down a few weeks ago.

    [Reply]

  18. Kris-Alyx-whatever. Libraries aren’t too rare in malls. Genesee Valley Center in Flint has had one for yerars.

    [Reply]

  19. This page has been referenced by a local news site: http://www.pegasusnews.com/blogs/pegasusnewsblog/2009/mar/26/northpark/

    [Reply]

  20. Usually with most malls that expand, one can usually tell where the original section ends, and the newer areas are. While the building materials and internal workings may be different, it’s amazing that they were able to keep the same architectural style going, 40 years later.

    That’s what sticks out most to me. A job well done by the builders and architects who worked on the 2005 expansion. Besides that, this sort of ‘look’ has made somewhat of a comeback, so it made perfect sense to make the expansion continue the original 1965-era structure.

    It won’t happen in the foreseeable future for me, but if I were ever in the area where this mall is, I’d be paying a visit for sure.

    [Reply]

  21. I love how the bricks border each store, but I wonder if that design prohibits a store to take two spaces side by side, since that would require a renovation of the brick wall in the mall concourse.

    [Reply]

  22. Anchor History, courtesy of Mall Hall of Fame.
    The original anchors of the “L”-shaped mall were JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, and Titche-Goettinger, in 1965. In 1974, near Neiman Marcus, a two-level wing with Lord & Taylor was built. This made the mall a lop-sided “U”. In 1979, Titche-Goettinger was rebranded as Joske’s. Joske’s was rebranded as Dillard’s in 1987. JCPenney left in the early 1990s and Foley’s demolished and rebuilt space. Foley’s opened in 1997. Then in 2005, Lord & Taylor closed and became Robb & Stucky and Barneys New York.

    Finally, it should live oaks and native Texas flora, not fauna. No wild animals (not even squirrels) inhibit the central park. Also, was a Kroger in or around the mall in the 1960s.

    [Reply]

    Marianne Reply:

    @Jonah Norason,
    Nice summary of the mall history. I was there when they had their grand opening with my mom. Because it was such a large compound by standards of that time, there were shuttle carts to transport shoppers from the parking lot to the mall. That seems funny now. As an art student then, I was thrilled to see the public art. One memorable former indoor piece was by Henry Moore – a huge reclining nude. Outdoors, there is a geometric, rusted steel and grass panel sculpture by a famous female artist I cannot recall. It is still exists in an entry driveway on the Northwest Hwy. side. The center has become more upscale with new renovations. It is still a fun place to see major art installations, people watch and, of course, shop.

    [Reply]

  23. FYI, I believe that Fayette Mall in Lexington, KY has a Sonic in the food court. That mall would actually be an excellent review for labelscar, because the mall is divided by a Sears store. In other words, you have to walk through the Sears to get from one half of the mall to the other.
    As to this mall, absolutely beautiful. I want to visit.

    [Reply]

  24. Very beautiful mall. So elegant yet simple at the same time.

    [Reply]

  25. “They’re motorized and they swing their hammers and stuff, it’s pretty cool but also slightly cheesy at the same time.”

    ____

    Erm, Jonathan Barofsky, cheesy?

    http://www.nashersculpturecenter.org/object.aspx?ObjectID=6

    Huge in scale, with head bent and motorized arm continuously moving up and down, Hammering Man signifies both the drudgery and heroism of labor. The artist himself has stressed that the figure has an overlay of personal, political, and social meaning: “the Hammering Man is a worker, and I idolize the worker in myself. At the same time, it seems that the boring, monotonous repetition of the moving arm implies the fate of the mechanistic world.”

    [Reply]

  26. Borofsky. Fat fingers.

    [Reply]

  27. My favorite mall in Dallas. Such a simple, classic design that has withstood the test of time. I remember when the mall didn’t have the theater and food court and it felt a lot more intimate and exclusive. This mall is a textbook example of how a mall should be expanded.

    Lenox Square would be the most comparable mall here in Atlanta in terms of standing the test of time. Lenox’s additions and renovations back in the mid 90′s gave the mall a timeless look, but it sometimes feels sort of dated in its own way (not as much as Phipps, which is nice, but VERY 90s). The court/plaza area was finally remodeled last year, but before then, it was WAY outdated, very 70s/80′s looking. But now I kind of miss it.

    [Reply]

  28. I will just completely echo Matt from WI’s post here in loving how the look of the expansion was faithful to the original wing’s design. It’s funny how the interior of this mall reminds me of the nice interior design of the main building of the Chicago Botanical Garden in the north suburbs of Chicago, and what I really enjoy(interior design) about this mall.

    How come too many Macy’s stores, anyway, have signs that are the tiring black and red design(sorry to anyone who disagrees, but I won’t hide here how much I dislike the colors used on signs of their stores when they converted from May-owned department store chains), and are not a nicer single color, such as what Federated used for their North Park store? It’s too bad this is one of the very rare stores I’ve ever seen outside of Macy’s stores in the northeast region, where Macy’s(Federated) was smart enough to use a single color for the interior and exterior signage. Federated really should go back to the old way Macy’s signs were like, pre-Federated/May merger. *sigh!*

    Would love to check this mall out for myself, if I ever someday(and though I expect it’ll be many years before ever having any opportunities to do this) make it to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    [Reply]

  29. @ towski: Yes, cheesy. Or maybe just not my thing, but I’d much prefer the work without the movement. A man holding a raised hammer would imply the intention to swing it, in my mind. I don’t need a mechanical display to show me what a man swinging a hammer looks like.

    [Reply]

  30. NorthPark’s expansion strikes me as a rebirth and has brought many new customers to the mall’s shops. Of those shops, I believe Neiman-Marcus and Florsheim are the only original tenants left, although Zales may have been there at the outset. Wyatt’s cafeteria and El Fenix restaurant were in on the beginning and had long runs, too, but both closed in the last few years.

    I’ve been scanning the Internet for a list of all the shops who’ve ever occupied NorthPark space, but no luck. I expect only the NorthPark offices could provide it. One stimulus for this search is that another Internet forum claims there was a Kroger grocery in NorthPark early on, but I don’t recall it.

    The original L-shaped NorthPark offered one boutique-y wing, with Neiman’s at the far end, while the other wing was a bit downscale, with a Lerner’s dress shop, a Woolworth’s, and a drugstore, etc. J.C. Penney was the terminus of that wing, and I suppose Kroger would have been along there somewhere. The Neiman’s wing smelled differently from the other wing, as I recall, and I’ve always supposed that was an effect achieved intentionally by adding some odorant to the air. Or maybe it’s a natural emanation from Neiman’s.

    [Reply]

    harmonicpies Reply:

    @Lemastre “Or maybe it’s a natural emanation from Neiman’s”,

    Yes, I believe that’s the smell of Money.

    [Reply]

  31. Nice post. If y’all are ever in Dallas during Christmas, this is definitely the mall to visit. The mall has a giant train set it sets up in the mall and an old school scrooge puppet show. They used to have a giant old animated clock set up next to Macy’s, but I haven’t seen it in the past two years (might be under repair).

    The Nasher family is known for its love of the arts. During Thanksgiving, artists will create works of art using canned goods and other non-parishable foods. The mall typically has some sort of “art competition” and the displays will be promoted throughout the mall. A rare thing about Northpark is that it doesn’t have any of the “cart retailers” who set up shop in the walkways of malls. Makes the mall feel a lot more open than it actually is and you don’t have to deal with annoying sales people trying to force you to buy cell phones or hair extensions. Also, Susan G. Comen Race for the Cure offices are in the mall and the mall is heavily involved in the race.

    [Reply]

  32. My dad was a member of the construction team that built NorthPark in 1965. I was born the same year; you might say the mall and I grew up together.

    It’s the only mall at which I will shop. Security is tight but unobtrusive, and ghetto antics are not permitted, allowing one to shop in peace.

    The best part is the turtle pond in front of Tiffany. I love NorthPark.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    @B Chan,

    The good news is that if you’re missing the ghetto antics, you can catch them nearby at Valley View Mall or at Town East Mall in Mesquite. ;-D

    [Reply]

  33. The NorthPark trains are owned by model-train enthusiast Ban Bywaters, and their annual appearance at NorthPark has become involved enough to require its own professional management staff. There are 1.5 miles of track, and the display, including the elaborate diorama, takes 16 days to set up. The Bank of Texas sponsors the installation, and the money from ticket sales goes to Dallas’ Ronald McDonald House, constituting more than half that establishment’s income.

    I believe the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects ran the designing-with-cans competition, in which various firms dreamed up designs and constructed them with food cans of appropriate size and shape. This is apparently AIA’s way to publicize its drive to collect canned goods for charity (I guess this is why the rules forbid building with dogfood cans).

    Lately, various builders and designers have been involved in NorthPark’s playhouse auction, which features wooden playhouses large enough for habitation by small children. The highest bidders get the houses, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) gets the money.

    [Reply]

  34. The Nasher family is well known for their support of the Arts in Dallas. Back in the 80′s they owned a bank next to the mall that had original Warhol’s as decor. Old school, old money Dallas.

    [Reply]

  35. This mall is truly amazing. In one place, you get great shopping, some great food (and not just at Sonic ;) ) and some fabulous art throughout the entire mall.

    [Reply]

  36. As great as the review was, it didn’t mention the lawn area in the middle of the mall. What a great outdoor space.

    [Reply]

  37. Originally, in the 1960s, NorthPark had three outlying elements across the parking lot(s) from the main “L” shaped enclosed mall.

    1) A two-screen theatre, North Park Cinema I & II operated by General Cinema Corp, was in the upper west side of the property backing on Boedecker Drive to the west.

    2) A large gasoline station (Mobil? Texaco?) was situated in the extreme northeast corner of the property at the corner of Park Lane and the North Central Expressway access road.

    3) A short strip shopping center ran along the far north edge of the property, backing on Park Lane. It was a straightforward design, but executed in North Park’s virtually trademarked white brick. I believe this is where the Kroger grocery was located, along with a U.S. Post Office, a Centennial Liquor store, and a few other retailers. (Centennial also maintained a more upscale space within the mall about halfway between Titche’s and Neiman-Marcus.)

    [Reply]

  38. Dallas-Fort Worth Retail Roundtable
    As recovery unfolds, the DFW market sees retailer interest and holding rents.
    Daniel Beaird

    Retail in the Dallas-Forth Worth area is improving ahead of the rest of the nation. Shopping Center Business recently spoke with several retail real estate executives in the area to get their impressions of the market. Participants were: Bryan Cornelius, partner, Venture Commercial Real Estate; Daniel Harris, senior vice president, Henry S. Miller Brokerage, Retail Division; Gar Herring, president, The MGHerring Group; and Tim McNutt, director of leasing and sales, Bright Realty.

    SCB: What is the current state of retail activity in Dallas-Fort Worth?

    Cornelius: We are seeing good retail activity in the Dallas-Fort Worth market and although retailers are still being cautious, they will continue to open new stores in this market. The most active retailers right now are in the discount category. There has been an increase in market planning activity from retailers, which would indicate a push for store openings in 2011 and 2012. The most active sector in our market is grocery stores. Kroger, Tom Thumb, Save-A-Lot, Aldi and neighborhood Walmart grocery stores are all actively opening stores. Walmart has been active with Walmart Super Centers as well.

    The quick-serve and fast food restaurants are also still active in this market. This includes In N Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Mooyah Burgers, SmashBurger, Panda Express and Chipotle. Full service restaurants have been active as well, such as Logan’s Road House, BJ’s Brewery, Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

    Harris: Retail leasing remains relatively flat in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, with mostly positive absorption in Class A anchored centers offset by continuing vacancy loss in Class B and C centers, but this is expected to stabilize by year’s end or into the first quarter 2011. Empty Class B and C big box centers will continue to struggle with vacancy until replacement anchors can be found to increase draws in traffic.

    Herring: We are fortunate to be located in North Texas where the market has fared much better than other areas of the country. We are finding that while retailers are opening fewer stores, they continue to recognize Dallas-Fort Worth as one of the strongest retail markets and are still expanding in our area.

    Dillard’s opened this March at our project, The Village at Fairview, and it is one of only two new stores that Dillard’s opened this year. Whole Foods Market will open in November. In addition, several retailers in the Best Southwest area (cities of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, Lancaster and Desoto) have relocated to our Uptown Village at Cedar Hill project within the past year. These retailers include Justice, The Children’s Place and Old Navy, which built its newest prototype store at Uptown Village.

    Tim McNutt

    McNutt: There is little doubt that retail has suffered over these last 2 years of economic recession. Texas has been stronger than the national market but we have seen a significant slowdown in our market. Sales tax revenues are greater than 2009 so we can claim modest growth over historic lows this year. Consumer confidence continues to struggle and until job growth continues, I believe it will be a much softer market for the next year. However, there are signs of optimism and an increase in activity in local and regional tenants making opportunist efforts to gain market share.

    SCB: What retail leasing/development trends have surfaced during the economic downturn?

    Cornelius: Landlords tried to hold rents where they were the last few years, but just recently we have seen developers get more aggressive to fill vacant space. Also, landlords have gotten more creative in marketing their properties and are becoming more broker-friendly with respect to fees and leasing bonuses. Another trend is the landlord’s willingness to give free rent in lieu of tenant improvement allowances, sometimes as much as 6 to 12 months of free rent.

    Harris: The heavy amount of active term rent reduction negotiations between tenants and landlords has dissipated to a great degree, reflecting renewed confidence that by both sides of the economy and sales have stabilized, and will slowly improve. Strong leasing activity with discount and value-added retailers continues. Leasing to non-traditional tenants such as office users or even warehouse users has seen an uptick during this downturn.

    Some other trends of note are the increased use of retail centers for dental and medical users, and a fairly strong increase in percentage of restaurants occupying former retail space. Payday loan and pawn shops continue to thrive and grow in the downturn. Temporary concept store leases in malls are also popping up with landlords finding creative ways to fill spaces and structure novel leases. New retail development has, for the most part, come to a halt during this downturn with the majority of development seen in the remaining completion of high profile power centers. Alliance Town Center, The Village at Allen and The Village at Fairview are examples of this.

    Gar Herring

    Herring: Retail projects that have sustained throughout the economic downturn are opening in phases. In addition, some developers are finding alternative and creative uses for additional space, which benefits both the shopping center and the community. For example, The MGHerring Group has incorporated many community features in our development of The Village at Allen, The Village at Fairview and Uptown Village at Cedar Hill. We recently opened a community garden and beach area with sand volleyball courts and kids’ play area at The Village Fairview. A 10-acre park is opening in November.

    Retailers have become more conservative in their expansion plans, but they are still opening new stores, particularly in markets such as Dallas-Fort Worth where retail activity is outperforming other regions of the country. Retailers are selecting shopping centers with solid anchors and prominent locations in markets with strong demographics for population and income growth.

    McNutt: New development has for all practical purposes stopped. Reasonable credit and financing is almost non-existent. The Federal Reserve continues to attempt to rectify the uncertainty in the market but very little clarity has manifested as a result of those efforts. Those projects that were ramping up in 2007 have been difficult to lease up. Navigating the waters where tenants and landlords expectations are very far apart has resulted in all deals taking much longer than in previous cycles. However, we have managed to lease up a couple of challenging properties even during this difficult time. Identifying the uses desired and hitting the streets enabled us to lease over 30,000 square feet of space in the Southwest Center Mall in the last 90 days.

    SCB: Have any major developments come on line this year? Are any planned?

    Cornelius: The new developments we have seen come online this year in the Dallas-Fort Worth market have been grocery store and Walmart driven. All things considered, this has been a very active market for new grocery anchored developments.

    In September, HEB grocery store opened in Burleson, a suburb of Fort Worth. The first phase of retail adjacent to the HEB has approximately 14,000 square feet of small shop space with plans to add additional space as leasing permits. HEB announced another store planned for Granbury, 30 minutes southwest of Fort Worth.

    A Kroger Marketplace opened in early January of this year in Frisco, which is Kroger’s latest concept. The marketplace is 123,429 square feet and includes hard goods. The small shop space leasing appears to be getting some traction. Kroger will be opening Kroger Marketplaces later this year in North Fort Worth at Heritage Market Place located at Heritage Trace and IH-35W. They’ve also broken ground in Little Elm with a projected opening of summer 2011. Pads and small shop space are also planned. There is a planned Kroger Marketplace for US-75 (Central Express Way) and Haskell Avenue in Dallas as well.

    Tom Thumb opened in May of this year in Rockwall, a suburb of Dallas. A Kroger Marketplace is under construction in Rockwall as well. A Tom Thumb-anchored shopping center broke ground at the corner of FM 423 and Lebanon in Frisco. This will be a 70,000-square-foot Tom Thumb with 94,000 square feet of shop space.

    Walmart will be opening a Walmart Super Center in Benbrook in mid November. Walmart also has stores under construction at Skillman and Northwest Highway in Dallas, IH-35 and US 380 in Denton, and Preston Road and Hickory Creek in north Frisco. There are plans for future Walmart Super Centers at US 287 and Avondale Haslet Road in North Fort Worth, and FM 1187 and Main Street in Crowley.

    Target has also been approved at the intersection of US-287 and Harmon Road in North Fort Worth.

    Harris: There is over 20 million square feet of development in the planning stages, but this mostly remains unfunded. Population increases will continue, even if unemployment holds steady, and as the credit market slowly thaws, we can expect development to pick up again when the time is right.

    Herring: We launched the second phase of The Village at Fairview in March and have welcomed more than 40 new tenants this year. More than 100,000 square feet of new retail will open between late October and December.

    MGHerring is one of the only developers pursuing ground-up regional development projects in Dallas-Fort Worth and other markets. Tenants will be looking for new locations in 2011.

    McNutt: Once again, projects that were underway as the recession began have come online and continued to struggle with leasing and financing. Bright Realty has a large mixed-use project slated for a 2011-2012 start but so much is contingent on the retail growth plans and credit markets for the next 5 years. I believe this holiday season will play a large part in the growth plans for retail in the near future.

    SCB: What submarkets are performing best?

    Cornelius: The submarkets that are performing best are the middle to high income suburban markets like Southlake, Keller, Rockwall, North Fort Worth and Mansfield. The urban inner city markets such as the Uptown area of Dallas are still seeing strong occupancies and rents mainly driven by restaurants.

    Daniel Harris

    Harris: The uptown area of Dallas is always strong. North Dallas, Plano, Allen, North and Southwest Fort Worth, Alliance, Las Colinas, Flower Mound and Southlake continue to do well, as do some smaller pockets in the southern sector. Some of the outlying communities are struggling as housing starts failed to keep pace with retail development, and as such, vacancy rates remain up and downward pressures on rent rates continue.

    Herring: Retail activity in the Dallas-Fort Worth market continues to perform above other areas of the country. The submarket of Collin County (specifically the cities of Allen and McKinney) continues to be one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S. in terms of income and population.

    Money magazine ranked McKinney fifth and Allen 16th on its 2010 list of “Best Places to Live.” The City of Allen is also one of the few cities to see an increase in sales tax revenue this year.

    McNutt: Where the basic fundamentals of retail are in place such as high density, high income and high traffic, activity continues to be strong and retailers continue to seek space in these locations. The second opportunity is on the very low end of the retail spectrum — owners who have an extremely low basis in the property and can offer an exceptional value to the tenants with aggressive terms.

    SCB: What types of retail product are performing?

    Cornelius: The best performing retail product is the well-located, grocery-anchored neighborhood centers that provide for the daily needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.

    Harris: As far as occupancy, lifestyle centers continue to do well overall as do grocery-anchored neighborhood centers.

    Herring: Centers with strong retail anchors that attract the specialty retail and restaurants perform well. We have also found that centers must be developed with the community in mind to be successful.

    McNutt: I believe that mixed-use and neighborhood centers are performing better than lifestyle centers.

    SCB: Have any major retailers entered/exited your market?

    Bryan Cornelius

    Cornelius: Aldi Grocery stores is one of the only major retailers to enter this market, opening multiple stores earlier this year. There also has been a big push for restaurants entering the market, such as In N Out Burger and Carl’s Jr.

    There have been no major retailers exiting our market since Circuit City and Linens ‘n Things exited last year.

    Harris: Asian big box grocers such as 99-Ranch and H-Mart have entered the Dallas-Fort Worth market and this will be a continued growth story. Existing retailers have also brought new specialty brand stores to market.

    McNutt: Most national retailers we have had discussions with continue to be bullish on the Texas market. Food service seems to be leading the pack of new inquiries. In N Out Burger coming to town is a positive sign for Texas. QSR’s continue to inquire about pad sites and inline opportunities.

    SCB: What is vacancy like? Are rental rates holding steady?

    Cornelius: It appears that we have hit the bottom regarding vacancies in this market. We are bouncing along the bottom right now and should see a slow recovery. Occupancies in the urban areas are holding steady with approximately a 10 percent vacancy rate, while vacancies in the suburban areas are between 20 to 25 percent depending on the market. The fringe and green areas have seen the most vacancies. The centers in better locations with good access remain strong.

    Harris: Vacancy is steady at about 13 percent, which is the highest since the late 1980s. Effective rent rates should come in around $13.20 for the fourth quarter 2010. Vacancy rates and rent rates should start to improve as soon as the economy recovers and the lack of new development drives positive absorption. Rental rates are holding steady in the best Class A retail projects but still declining somewhat otherwise. Occupancy remains strong in the high profile properties, and steady rates have allowed some successful retailers to upgrade in location, further increasing rate pressure on Class B and C properties.

    McNutt: Vacancies are up in older centers as big box users have moved or vacated older, underperforming centers. Rental rates continue to hold on in quality retail but less desirable centers are experiencing significant drops in rents.

    SCB: How is the second half of 2010 performing compared to the first half? Is there more activity/optimism?

    Cornelius: In the first half of the year, we saw a lot of deals that had been in the works get completed. Overall, the first half of the year was pretty good and this activity has continued through the third quarter. However, the fourth quarter is typically a slow time of the year as retailers focus on holiday sales. There is optimism regarding 2011 coming from brokers and retailers alike.

    Harris: Rent rates appear to have declined slightly for the second half of the year with occupancy holding steady for the most part. Activity appears to show a slight uptick and optimism is definitely increasing. The Dallas-Fort Worth market remains one of the strongest and most resilient retail markets in the country.

    Herring: We are seeing more activity with new tenants coming to The Village at Allen, The Village at Fairview and Uptown Village at Cedar Hill that want to be open in time for the holidays. More than 100,000 square feet of new retail will open at The Village at Fairview between late October and December.

    We continue to be aggressive in our leasing efforts and are looking for new deals in 2011 as well as actively pursuing new development opportunities.

    McNutt: We have seen a steady increase in activity in both leasing and land sales in the last quarter and expect that trend to continue through the fourth quarter.

    SCB: Do you believe things will turn around in your market in 2011? Why or why not?

    Cornelius: Our market should see improvement in 2011, but I believe it will be slow and steady at first. The Dallas-Fort Worth markets continue to be two of the best retail real estate markets in the country.

    We have seen some improvement in job growth in our market, which is a good economic indicator. This should lead to store for store sales increases for our retailers, which in turn should lead to expansion.

    We have also seen the capital markets coming back, which should help spur new developments. The deals still have to be the right deals and underwriting will be more rigorous, but there will be opportunity for developments in 2011.

    Harris: Yes, I do; slowly, but definitely. Positives are an expected thaw in the credit markets, pressures to kick-start the SBA loans to small business, improving employment rates, population growth in the Metroplex, and the entrepreneurship of the American people. Retail shopping is changing, and changing dramatically. Online shopping will continue to increase, and the face of bricks and mortar retail will undergo a radical shift in the coming years. Those who can adapt to this will thrive.

    Herring: Yes. Tenants will be looking for new locations in 2011.

    McNutt: There are two major factors that will influence activity in the coming year: holiday sales and job growth. Strong holiday sales news will influence consumer confidence but until the market sees the high unemployment figures start to drop, the consumer will continue to be frugal with discretionary spending. I anticipate the recovery in Texas to lead the way as in-migration and favorable business climates improve. Removing any uncertainty in the tax/regulatory issues facing us in the future should enable the large amounts of cash sitting on the sidelines to be put to work. As always, we are hoping for a solid rebound in 2011 but will remain lean and mean until the trends solidify.

    [Reply]

  39. It is reported that Charlotte’s SouthPark mall’s initial design was modeled after NorthPark Center. I can totally see that.

    [Reply]

  40. I loved going to this mall when I lived in Dallas. I haven’t been there in a decade though. I remember the Northpark I & II. With so many film studios having offices in Dallas, the larger auditorium (and maybe both) had a raised section of seating in the back that was used sometimes by the studios to watch over screenings.

    [Reply]

  41. more malls should look like his — a museum!

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply


− five = 3