The Dallas Morning News
Valley View, awaiting demolition, is businesses’ temporary home
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.
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.