Valley View Center; Dallas, Texas

Opened in 1973, Valley View Center was the first major mall in far north Dallas, the expansive, monied area of the DFW Metroplex located north of I-635.  Valley View is situated at I-635 and Preston Road, about 13 miles north of downtown Dallas.  When it opened, Valley View Center was on the edge of town – today, Valley View is only a third of the way from downtown to the edge of the Metroplex.  After 36 years, multiple expansions and competition appearing literally adjacent to it, Valley View is on the precipice of a major change after having seen better days.   Only by building something truly destinational and drawing people from all over the Metroplex will Valley View be able to recapture its once-thriving status; otherwise, it will continue along the slippery slope into obsolescence.

Valley View Center was built by Homart Development Company, the development arm of Sears Roebuck and Company, who already operated a standalone store here since 1965.  When the mall opened, a Dallas-based Sanger-Harris was added, as well as an interior corridor connecting it to Sears.  The Center’s grand opening took place in August 1973, and a famous promotion garnered national media attention when shoe store Thom McAn gave away a free 8-ounce steak with a $5 purchase.  Mmm, nothing like red meat and shoes!  Smack those lips.

With Sears and Sanger-Harris at its helm, Valley View enjoyed immediate success with little competition in the far north Dallas market.  In fact, the only other mall at all in north Dallas was NorthPark Center, located several miles south of Valley View along US 75.  Valley View enjoyed instant success as rapid development took place in far north Dallas and also in neighboring suburbs Richardson, Garland, Plano, and Carrollton.

In response to this growth, an expansion was planned for 1979, adding a two-level Dillard’s store as well as more in-line space to the mall.  This expansion was especially prescient as the late 1970s and early 1980s would bring serious competition to Valley View.  Richardson Square Mall became the second mall in far north Dallas, opening in 1977, and the large Prestonwood Town Center became the third in 1979.  These malls, however, would not pose as much of a threat to Valley View in recent years (because they bit the dust!), as much as the two that opened in the early 1980s – Collin Creek Mall and Dallas Galleria.

In 1981 and 1982, more competition hit Valley View extremely hard.  The first was the opening of the large Collin Creek Mall in fast-growing Plano, which debuted in 1981, a bit north of Valley View.  The second blow hit harder and much closer to home as Hines Interests, a Houston developer, wanted to copy Houston’s Galleria mall and bring it to Dallas.  Hines purchased a great site at the intersection of I-635 and the Dallas North Tollway, one block west of Valley View Center.  Whoops.  Dallas Galleria opened in 1982, anchored by upscale Saks Fifth Avenue and Marshall Field’s as well as a set of similarly upscale stores under a beautiful three-level concourse with an arched glass roof.

The two malls coexisted harmoniously for some time, especially after Valley View wisened up and did an upscale tweak of its own, adding a Bloomingdale’s store in 1983 and later a themed area they called The Conservatory.  The Conservatory had a piano with player, fouffy upscale-themed artwork, fancy landscaping, and it surreptitiously invited upscale shoppers away from the neighboring Galleria.  The attempt was valiant, but didn’t really work.

Two more major events took place in 1985 at Valley View, when Dillards added a third level, and Texas removed its blue laws and allowed stores to open on Sundays for the first time.  And, in 1987, Sanger-Harris merged into Foley’s.

The Bloom(ingdale’s) on the rose didn’t last long, though, as the store was never a fit at Valley View Center.  The upscale keeping-up-with-the-Joneses at Valley View ended in August 1990 when Bloomingdale’s gave up on the mid-market mall and closed.  The next few years were a thorn in the side for Valley View’s management, as legal wranglings kept the anchor from being filled for 6 years.  In 1991, Montgomery Ward wanted the site to build a 200,000 square-foot store, but the mall’s owner objected voraciously (hey, Wards isn’t Bloomingdale’s!), and ended up winning the fight to keep Wards away.  Unfortuately, Wards was the only interested party at the time, so the anchor remained dark until 1996, when JCPenney finally filled it.  At the time, the JCPenney here was the largest in the DFW Metroplex.

A twin-screen General Cinemas movie theater, in the mall since 1975, closed in 1991 and remained dark for more than ten years before being filled by Radio One studios in 2002.  Inside the radio studios are a basketball court, mix room, small auditorium, a newsroom, and two production studios for stations KBFB (97.9 The Beat) and KSOC (94.5 K-Soul).  You can check out a neat story about how the facility was constructed here.  Mall management and the radio stations believe a symbiotic relationship exists between them.  The radio stations benefit from in-mall advertising and visibility to shoppers, and the mall benefits from increased shopper traffic coming by to see their favorite personalities live on air.  A window looks into the mall from the studios, and some well-known R&B personalities are based here, including Rickey Smiley, whose R&B morning show is syndicated on over 30 stations nationwide.

After Bloomingdales was finally replaced by JCPenney, Valley View’s owners finally realized that repositioning the mall toward a middle-income set of folks was probably smartest, and once again would allow a harmonious coexistence with the Goliath Galleria next door.  This arrangement worked well into the 2000s, until two more malls delivered rapid blows of competition in 2000 and 2001, respectively.  The 1.6 million square-foot Stonebriar Centre opened in Frisco in 2000, and the 1.4 million square-foot The Shops at Willow Bend opened in Plano in 2001.

Even as Richardson Square Mall and Prestonwood Town Center failed during the mid-2000s, the dominance of the new malls combined with the Galleria next door were too much for Valley View to handle.  It no longer had a niche, even despite an extensive renovation in 2000, giving it a modern, fresher look.   A large AMC Movie Theater also opened on top of the mall in 2004, giving it a third level.  The upscale NorthPark Center also doubled in size in 2005-2006, and Galleria Dallas remodeled as well.  At Valley View, some solid national chains began to leave as local stores moved in, and in 2006 Foleys became Macy’s when the latter purchased the former’s parent. This merger was ominous for Valley View Center, as there had already been a Macy’s at Galleria Dallas since 1985, a block away.  How much Macy’s does one area need?  Probably not two huge stores a block apart.

Hemmed in by malls on all sides, including new as well as dramatically renovated centers, it wasn’t long before Valley View began to have major problems.  Unfortunately, in December 2007, immediately following the Christmas shopping season, Macy’s announced they were closing several underperforming stores nationwide, including the 300,000 square-foot Valley View behemoth of a store.  This wasn’t a huge shock, considering there is already a large Macy’s a block away at Galleria Dallas.  Then, a few months later, Dillards announced it was closing its huge three-level store in August of that same year.  Ouch.

With two large anchors dark, Valley View Center is definitely in trouble and living on borrowed time.  If management is proactive in retenanting or redeveloping the dark anchors, the mall could be saved.  It might be too late, though, considering competition coming from all sides and the mall no longer having a niche in the market.  Personally, I would remove the dead anchors, demolish them, and put up one of those fancy fad-oriented outdoor mall portions.  Maybe even add some entertainment and restaurants; call it The District or something.  Too bad the movie theater is on top of the mall on the inside, or that would go great out there too.  Definitely add a Coldwater Creek though, and a Chico’s.

Seriously, proactive management needs to take charge and put Valley View Center on the offense to save it from becoming a piece of history.  Like I said, it might be too late, but this is monied north Dallas, and this mall is well-positioned in it.  What do you think?  I visited Valley View Center in January 2009 and took the pictures feature here.  How does the mall stack up today?  Is it holding ground after surviving almost two years with half its anchors?  Or is it fading fast?  Let us know in the comments!

32 Responses to “Valley View Center; Dallas, Texas”

  1. With all those malls within proximity to Valley View, I can only see this center either go downscale or turned into a mixed-use environment like you’ve mentioned… a lifestyle or entertainment component may work, but to what degree? These changes would all have to be taken at once to ensure that the project remains viable as they also risk losing JCPenney and Sears. Macerich is a very reputable company in my opinion and I think they would be the ones to know how to redevelop this property.

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  2. I had no idea that Valley View Center & the Galleria were that close to one another. I think turning Valley View into an semi-open air lifestyle center is possible, however remember summers in the southwest can be brudily hot.

    The best thing that can be done is a joint venture between Macerich & Raymond Nasher the Galleria’s owner to join the properties in some way. If nessessary relocate the Sears, JC Penny stores & AMC somewhere else on the property. This way you can build a lifestyle center around those anchors.

    Although with the AMC at North Park, Keeping the theatre may not be nessessary.

    A tram system should run between the properties. This will reduce the need to constently drive & search for parking spaces

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    Prange Way Reply:

    @SEAN, They could also just eat all the space between the malls and build one MegaMall. That would be amazing!

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    SEAN Reply:

    @Prange Way, I would agree. What a great mall you would have. Mind you that the Galleria is a strong performer as it is, adding the Valley View property would rival King of Prussia & MOA.

    Does US 75 Central Expressway run between the Galleria & Valley View? If not, then it could be rather easy to join the malls together.

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    coddat Reply:

    @SEAN,
    I think you might be confused, Raymond Nasher has nothing to do with the Galleria, only Northpark which is 7 miles to the south. Unfortunately Galleria is now getting hammered by Northpark, Gucci is moving south to Northpark closing the Galleria location, as did Versace.

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    McBeese Reply:

    @SEAN, — “brudily”???

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    Iceblue Reply:

    @McBeese, I think Sean meant “brutally”.

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  3. Well, it has those awful banners hanging down in the main concourse…and according to Wikipedia, “The Conservatory” trappings came AFTER Bloomie’s closed in ’90.

    ANYWAY, what I think should be done to save the mall is steal an idea from the nearby defunct North Hills Mall and make it the entertainment mall with all the stores that Galleria Dallas doesn’t have. And of course, tourist trappings! I vote that they add some sort of water-themed attraction inside.

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  4. i LOVE them Sanger-Harris murals! They are FREAKING awesome!!!!!

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  5. I visited this mall in the summer of 2008 while Dillard’s was in the process of closing. The mall seemed pretty much intact, with a decent flow of foot traffic. On a personal note, I am just not a Dillard’s fan. I’ve never ever purchased a damn thing at a Dillard’s, even when it was on clearance. Their assortment is lacklustre. If they wanted to fill the space with something equally as underwhelming, put in a Kohl’s. It has the same “heavy” feeling and smells like “fabric”. Anyone else ever notice this?

    Seriously speaking, I actually liked this mall better than the nearby Galleria.

    I have an idea for this mall, and it involves something completely different than the traditional efforts like “just sticking in a Crate & Barrel” or the like. Don’t you almost feel like when you visit one mall lately, you’ve seen them all, since they are all cookie cutter reproductions of one another? Here’s my idea…since the mall houses a couple radio stations, why not capitalize on them. With all the reality t.v. popularity right now, why not convert the former Macy’s with it’s bizarre murals into a series of glass fronted “stalls” inside where reality t.v. stars could hawk their crap. All those Housewives of NY, Orange County, New Jersey, Atlanta…they all seem to have their own lines of wares to sell, from Jewelry to wigs to garments. With the radio stations right inside the mall, attract these wannabe t.v. personalities to do “interviews”. At the same time they could make appearances to push their lines, promote their latest books, and sign autographs. It would be a unique draw for everyone. Also attract vendors that work with t.v. personalities to set up shop their and brand their product. For example, that Patti Stanger from Millionaire Matchmakers has her own Patti Stanger 1-800-Flowers Signature Bouquet. So, why not a 1-800-Flowers retail location? Get it?

    Now, take the other cavernous empty anchor and convert it to another series of “stalls” and allow vendors from NY’s fashion district (or various market’s fashion districts) to set up shop there selling deeply discounted “samples”. This would be a great way for new labels and designers to get an edge in terms of marketing share. I’m so tired of seeing the same old stuff everywhere. It seems to me that these malls have tunnel vision. I have yet to see anything creative come out of mall management’s leasing departments. With all their resources, you would think Simon, General Growth, Westfield, and the like would have more vision. No wonder their all struggling. Come on Macerich, wake up! Do something different, be original.

    Oh, and get rid of that ridiculous carousel if you want to be taken seriously.

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  6. I’ve been in Dallas for the past 15 years, and I’ve heard that Valley View is pretty “ghetto” these days. I have not been inside Valley View in quite some time, but I drive by it daily to and from work. It looks pretty desolate, and there are a lot of apartments in that area that are less than desirable. I’m giving it until the end of 2010 before they close they whole thing down.
    The Galleria is nice, but everyone shops Northpark since their expansion/renovation these days.

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  7. Here is a story from Dec. 2009 with some more pictures-
    http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2009/12/i_hadn.php

    Despite the heat there are a lot of open lifestyle centers here, both inside LBJ and in the suburbs. They just put a really fancy one in Allen. This entire area is over, over and over malled and getting over lifestyle-centered as well. That’s why Prestonwood and Richardson Square died – when we first moved to Dallas in 1995 we shopped at these malls and Valley View all the time, and now two are gone and one is on death watch.

    The area around Valley View has changed a lot. It used to be upscale, but it’s gotten pretty junky. I don’t see the mall remaining. I think it will be demolished and turned into something else, maybe a couple of big box stores or something not shopping related at all, There is already a ton of office space over there and I don’t know if there is a market for more of that.

    I think putting in a radio station was a great idea. There is some film industry in North Texas – it would be great if this could be turned into sound stages and facilities for other media production. The talent is here already. It would be nice if something went in that created jobs that actually paid well.

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  8. Valley View was always my mall of choice. I live in New York now and was not aware that VV was fading away. I sure hope they figure something out.

    Vive Le Valley View!

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  9. I remember shopping here when I was a kid. My parents used to actually make shopping here a adventure by being there when the mall opened at 10AM on Saturday. This was back in the mid 80′s and we lived in Arlington.
    When The Parks at Arlington Mall opened in 1987, the trips were fewer since we had the same stores there and this mall started the death knells for Forum 303, Six Flags and even Red Bird Mall in SW Dallas.

    It is true about the DFW area being overmalled. I read in a magazine that DFW in 2001 had more malls per capita in the US. I was shocked considering Houston has a boatload of malls on life support.
    My favorite memory at Valley View was the fountain that had the staircase connecting the first and second floors. The staff would go to the landing and move the huge planter which covered the fountain vault and climb down the ladder and flip the switch and the water would start cascading down the white tiled stairs. This was when it was opening time at 10.

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  10. Macerich should remodel the mall. It might cost Macerich millions of dollars to remodel but I bet it’s well worth investment for many years to come!

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  11. I worked at Valley View as a teenager off and on between 1998 and 2001. I can remember getting stuck in the freight elevator during the holiday 1998 season. I remember when Sonic opened in the food court. My best friend and I used to goof off and make a scene there. Collin Creek isn’t too far from here either, which is now itself a dying mall.

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    Carol Reply:

    @Mary, Seriously where do you get this info? Collin Creek is far from a dying mall– its thriving. And Valley View is picking up. Just opened a store there thats doing better business that it did at Galleria.

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    The End Is Near Reply:

    @Carol, what store is that?

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  12. I think a number of factors came together to kill Valley View or anything that might arise from its ashes. The Galleria, Prestonwood Town Center, and a free-standing Sakowitz all opened at roughly the same time within about a mile of Valley View. They had high-end anchors; Valley View didn’t—until they got Bloomingdale’s. But Bloomingdale’s didn’t understand the market. What works in NY doesn’t necessarily work in Texas. By the time Prestonwood and Sakowitz had died, the demographics immediately around Valley View had changed. There is still an older, but well-to-do neighborhood across Preston Rd., but the once nice apartments north of Valley View seem to have become largely “low rent”. In fact, virtually everything between Belt Line Rd. to south of LBJ Freeway seems to have deteriorated in the past 10-15 years.

    I went to the Penney’s at Valley View about 4 years ago and knew there had been a change when I saw the signs on the doors were in Spanish. The clothing racks were so close together a person could barely move and they had set up central check-out counters with tacky signage like Montgomery Ward did toward the end. All-in-all, it looked like a “clearance center”. When that Penney’s opened in the former Bloomingdale’s space, it was luxurious-looking with marble floors and wide aisles like a high-end department store. What a sad change!

    Although I live only 20 minutes from the Galleria, I haven’t been there in years. Just getting to the mall is a traffic nighmare. Once you get there, you wait in a line of cars inching its way towards the parking garage(s). The same with NorthPark. There are too many more “user-friendly” malls to chose from, such as Stonebriar and Vista Ridge. The Shops at Willow Bend would seem to have had potential being located smack in the middle of a very affluent area, but it’s been a ghost town almost since the day it opened. Lord & Taylor closed not long after the mall opened and is still vacant. Macy’s, Dillard’s, Neiman’s, and Saks remain, but it’s depressing to shop there because the place is deserted. The positive thing about Willow Bend is that on Christmas Eve (or any other time), you can always find a parking place right by any of the doors!

    I mourn what’s happened to Valley View because it was part of my youth. I learned to drive on Sears’ parking lot before the mall was added (when the Blue Laws were still in effect). I really can’t think of any type of retail redevelopment that doesn’t already exist in the area. There’s still the Galleria, numerous strip malls/lifetsyle centers, and a big box center where Prestonwood used to be. I can’t see Penney’s lasting much longer, but Sears seems to hang on in dead malls forever.

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  13. I just read in today’s Dallas Morning news that Valley View’s owner Macerich signed over the mall to a lender’s group headed by Bank Of America.

    http://tinyurl.com/24bz65s

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  14. Valley View is dead…end of story
    I visited this mall briefly after work yesterday and it’s a near-ghosttown…There are wings of this mall that are completely dark and enough spaces to have 15-20 stores, but they’re all shut-tight. There’s no way this mall can be saved and it would be senseless to pour millions of dollars into it. When two major anchor stores close within a few months of each other and now major food-chains are closing stores, this mall is history.

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  15. As a kid, I used to roam the halls of Valley View back in hits heyday in the early- to mid-1980s. I remember getting ice cream at Bob’s, where they dipped it in chocolate and covered it in nuts. It was a great mall back then. I’m disappointed to see it in such bad shape. I have a lot of fond memories of that place. I haven’t lived in Dallas for years, but I’ll still be sorry to see the mall go if it comes to that.

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  16. How many Texas malls are left with those Sanger-Harris tiled arch entrances? I’d hate to finally travel to Texas for myself, and not see at least one mall(even if it was a dead or dying/struggling mall) with those arches!

    I’ve always dug how Sanger-Harris designed their store entrances, for whatever reason.

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    SangerHarris tribute Reply:

    @Allan, as of now:
    Open– SW Center in Dallas, Hulen in Fort Worth, Collin Creek in Plano, and Town East in Mesquite are the only TX mall locations remaining with the arch/mosaic facade (even though one side of Town East’s building got an expansion and messed up/did away with that side’s arch/mosaic–the other 2 sides still have the classic facade). The only other open stores are the Tyler store (not a mall) and the Woodland Hills location in Tulsa (the only non-TX one) with the remaining facade (1 side of Woodland Hills has arches but no mosaic for some reason).
    Closed (but still there)– Six Flags Mall in Arlington (the store isn’t occupied by any other retailer but the mail is still open)
    Closed (changed/repurposed)– Downtown Dallas, which is now DART’s HQ building; they took out the mosaic but left the arches
    Closed (and sadly torn down)– North Hills Mall in North Richland Hills
    All the others were from before the use of the arch/mosaic facades or were built after the Foley’s merger (or, in the case of Tuscon, Albuquerque, or Oklahoma City, were local acquisitions or mergers prior to the Foley’s merger).

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  17. I would have to say, its probably going to die out. Although I had heard The Shops at Willowbend was pretty dead to. I live in Houston but have friends that live at 183 and MacArthur and we usually end up at Irving Mall or Grapevine Mills, but I have been wanting to hit some other malls.
    I absolutely loved Prestonwood Town Center, it was so packed everytime I visited and was sorry that a mall with “business” was dying out, although a lot of activity used to happen there, back in the early 90′s when it was still open I remember my ex hubby and his friend climbed on the roof of the mall to smoke a sweet cigarette.

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  18. I recently drove by Valley View on a recent sunday morning on the Alpha Rd. side of the properly and found a part of the parking structure was fenced off to prevent people from entering the structure near the old Dillards, which leads me to believe this mall isnt long for this world..

    That being said: this mall was a nice alternative to The Galleria for quite a few years in the 80s and 90′s, but it started to slide when the neighborhood behind it went to pot over the past several years, as it consists of rundown Sec. 8 apartments on the north side of the location and a strip of older retail that has decayed as well. A few blocks to the west near the Galleria and the retail/restaurants/residential are nice, new and pristine. My thought it the mall is going to sooner or later face the wrecking ball, and thats a sad state of affiars..

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  19. The end is truly near. Here are a couple more recent stories about the plans for this real estate:

    http://www.dallasnews.com/business/columnists/steve-brown/20100805-Revitalizing-North-Dallas-Valley-View-2423.ece

    http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2011/07/15/valley-view-redevelopment-could-kick.html

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  20. Another story….

    http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2011/09/north_dallas_chamber_the_possi.php

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  21. Does this mean that the Skateboard Shop, Sound Town, Disc Records and McCord Music will not be re-opening?

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  22. Here’s the latest plan for the Valley View area (given the rather inaccurate name of “Dallas Midtown”):

    http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2013/apr/08/dallas-midtown-architects-create-city-within-city/

    Impressive video; now we’ll just have to see if this can actually get built. I love the idea of greenspace between there and the Galleria.

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  23. I worked at the now recently closed JC Penney’s during its final 8-9 months. It was sad to walk the mall and witness how dead it’d become in recent years. For awhile they had an 80s soundtrack blasting from the intercoms, and I could feel the ghosts of decadence pasts lurking around every corner.
    I remember my grandmother taking me to see Disney movies at the general cinema back in the early 80s, and back then VV was one of the coolest places around. It’s so sad to watch it head into oblivion (just as it was with Prestonwood & Richardson Square). But that’s what happens when you over saturate the area with too many malls. Willow Bend’s a huge waste of time & money. It’s never thrived on its own, and the only thing it’s been truly successful at is killing off the older, and more established malls nearby.

    Damn shame!

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