Gone to­mor­row

Val­ley View, await­ing de­mo­li­tion, is busi­nesses’ tem­po­rary home

The Dallas Morning News - - BUSINESS - By KA­RINA RAMÍREZ Staff Writer kramirez@dal­las­news.com

In the near fu­ture, a new de­vel­op­ment with a mix of re­tail space, restau­rants, hous­ing, of­fices and a big park — four times the size of down­town Dal­las’ Klyde War­ren Park — will re­place what is now Val­ley View Cen­ter.

But in the last few years, the shop­ping mall has been a tem­po­rary home to many busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions, a good num­ber of them Latino.

“Up­stairs, there’s only two hall­ways left and the theater area,” said Gabriela Rivera, owner of ServiTax In­come Tax, near the Sears store, one of the few busi­nesses still run­ning in the North Dal­las mall, which opened in 1973.

“Up here, all the com­mer­cial spa­ces are rented, and peo­ple show up. Most peo­ple go­ing to the theater have to go through the hall­ways where we are lo­cated,” said Rivera, whose busi­ness has been op­er­at­ing for less than two years on the mall’s first floor.

Rivera and the other renters were no­ti­fied of the com­ing changes sev­eral months ago.

The mall is sched­uled for de­mo­li­tion this year, pro­vid­ing room for de­vel­op­ment in an area that saw lit­tle ac­tiv­ity for years. The new project re­plac­ing the mall, Dal­las Mid­town, will in­clude a 20-acre park.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Beck Ven-

tures, Scott Beck, en­vi­sions a shop­ping and res­i­den­tial com­plex with stores, restau­rants and busi­nesses — a Star­bucks, Fire­side Pies and a Ver­i­zon store — sim­i­lar to the Shops at Legacy in Plano.

First phase

The first phase of the project in­cludes con­struc­tion of a 250-room ho­tel. The price tag for im­prov­ing the area is es­ti­mated at $4 bil­lion.

“Changes are painful, but there has to be a change,” said Rivera, orig­i­nally from Mex­ico.

Beck Ven­tures, which bought the mall’s shared ar­eas in 2012, owns the big­gest chunk of the prop­erty.

It has rented to small es­tab­lish­ments seek­ing a tem­po­rary place or plan­ning to launch their busi­nesses.

“Our first task was to try to bring some life back into it be­cause it was scary and it wasn’t do­ing any­thing for our neigh­bor­hood,” Beck said.

Beck Ven­tures bought the shop­ping cen­ter when the pre­vi­ous own­ers filed for bank­ruptcy. Beck lives nearby and says clos­ing the mall is bit­ter­sweet.

“We have been hon­est and truth­ful with the ten­ants all along,” he said.

“I did not know if it was go­ing to be six months or 10 years [that] it would take us to work with the city to come up with a com­pre­hen­sive plan for the mall. Then that be­came a com­pre­hen­sive plan for an en­tire district called Mid­town.”

$36 mil­lion TIF

Last year, the city ap­proved a tax in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing district for the area, in­clud­ing Val­ley View.

The $36 mil­lion TIF was ap­proved af­ter three years of dis­cus­sions with the own­ers and lo­cal lead­ers.

Beck Ven­tures will de­mol­ish some sec­tions of the prop­erty be­fore April 22. There are two other own­ers, and one has al­ready swung the wreck­ing ball through the Macy’s store.

The shop­ping cen­ter once had more than 130 ten­ants and depart­ment stores like Macy’s and J.C. Pen­ney, as well as spe­cialty stores such as Old Navy and a Dis­ney Store.

When Beck Ven­tures came in, the oc­cu­pancy rate was just 30 per­cent.

Be­sides ServiTax, danc­ing stu­dio Calirumba, the on­line sta­tion NXA Ra­dio and the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Craft Guild of Dal­las oc­cupy spa­ces at the mall.

Beck, who was per­son­ally man­ag­ing the mall at first, said his com­pany charged a 10th of what other com­mer­cial prop­er­ties would charge ten­ants for the area and the space in that lo­ca­tion.

“Out­side you are get­ting charged $15 to $18 a square foot; we were charg­ing 50 cents,” he said. “This was quite a great deal for the peo­ple that have been there. At the same time, it is kind of sad to have to change.”

The Craft Guild of Dal­las, which has of­fered arts and craft in­struc­tion for al­most 70 years, has oc­cu­pied more than 1,000 square feet in the mall since last March.

“We came to the mall as an in­terim; it was a good price while we look for a new build­ing,” said Laura Easter­ling, a book bind­ing in­struc­tor and board mem­ber of the guild. “We hope to be out be­fore Sept. 30.”

Even­tu­ally, her group will need a fa­cil­ity large enough to host classes in glass­work, pot­tery, lamp work and met­al­work­ing.

Easter­ling and Rivera say they al­ways knew their stay at the mall would be tem­po­rary. But they say the ten­ants have cre­ated a nice com­mu­nity.

“It’s been great. We are like a fam­ily, and we get along,” Rivera said. “We greet each other, and we are con­cerned be­cause we don’t know where are we go­ing to meet [in the fu­ture].”

Marisol En­ríquez and Vi­o­leta Ra­banal, two mall visi­tors who went with their chil­dren for danc­ing classes at Calirumba, said they were sad to learn of the changes.

“I come from Grand Prairie for lessons once a week be­cause it’s the only place in Dal­las where they of­fer them,” En­ríquez said.

“Too bad they’re clos­ing,” Ra­banal said. “I used to come over and I can re­mem­ber all the ac­tiv­ity here. I don’t know what hap­pened, but we’re still here.”

The web­site for the project is at dal­las­mid­town.com. The AMC Val­ley View 16 theater, which opened in May 2004, will prob­a­bly re­main open un­til late this year, Beck said.

“Shop­ping will still be avail­able, ac­cess point to the AMC is avail­able and peo­ple can do that through sum­mer and through the end of the year,” Beck said.

Ver­non Bryant/Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

The AMC Val­ley View 16 theater will prob­a­bly re­main open un­til late this year. Val­ley View Cen­ter is sched­uled for de­mo­li­tion this year, mak­ing room for the Dal­las Mid­town project, which will in­clude a 20-acre park.

Maria R. Olivas/Spe­cial Con­trib­u­tor

Gabriela Rivera’s busi­ness, ServiTax, is one of the few small ten­ants in­side Val­ley View.

Photos by Maria R. Olivas/Spe­cial Con­trib­u­tor

Moth­ers wait while their chil­dren at­tend a Satur­day dance class in­side Val­ley View Cen­ter.

“We came to the mall as an in­terim; it was a good price,” said Laura Easter­ling, a book bind­ing in­struc­tor and board mem­ber of the Craft Guild of Dal­las.

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