In with the Old and Temper the New

Impressions from the Brixmoor community meeting 01/18/18 about Wynnewood Shopping Center

Scott Griggs announced a community meeting with Brixmor, a new management company in the Wynnewood Shopping Center revitalization efforts for the shopping center.  Thursday night, eager to hear about plans for Wynnewood Shopping Center,  I picked up my buddy and fellow neighborhood association officer to attend the presentation held in an empty space in the shopping center.  The meeting was easy to find.  We arrived at 6:00 and were greeted with people spilling out the door, waiting for those inside to inch forward and let a few more people in.

Nothing was visible from the back (at my height anyway), but all chairs that had been set up in the suite were filled, and twice that many attendees were standing.  As I inched along the side of the room, we were beckoned forward and offered seats on the floor in the front.  Yes, I trotted right up and plopped down.  My buddy was on his own.  Then the speakers had to move to the center of the room to be heard, so I still couldn't see anything.

Councilmember Scott Griggs was introduced by Brixmor and said a few words about the project from his perspective.  He's excited, of course he knows more of the details than can be publicized at this time, and he's worked with the Brixmoor team and City staff to pull together a revitalization package for the property.  He hosted the meeting because he wants us to know what's happening with this site and give us some input.  (read on for contact info) The meeting was turned back over to Brixmor for a presentation of the vision for the center.  There were nicely bound copies, but not nearly enough.  I was not able to get a hardcopy at the meeting, so I'll pass on what I remember. Check our documents link for a soft copy of the presentation.

Brixmor is primarily a commercial property management company with 500 + properties.  They have offices nationwide, and here in Texas in both Dallas and Houston.    Something I didn't know, leases for the big stores can typically run 40-50 years.  The approach in this project is to respect the current architecture and features, clean up (literally clean) and somewhat update the facade in existing space.  

The plans also include seating, bike racks, improved lighting and security, along with planning for traffic management into and within the center.  The team has access to a wide range of demographics, such as how many dollars from our zip codes are spent in North Dallas or Cedar Hill zip codes.  Understanding the impact of these numbers allows them to market the center's potential once the right merchants are in place. Brixmor's objective is to make the center more relevant to the community.  If it's relevant, there will be more foot traffic for the tenants, more sales, and more viability.

Having good anchor tenants is critical to ongoing viability of the center.  Brixmor is poised to sign deals with two anchors that they are very pleased about.  No names yet, but there is a deal for a 16 screen theatre in the works, as well as a high end fitness center.  These two deals will start the ball rolling for the center. If signed it will take 18+ months to deliver a pad to the theatre for its construction, which could take a year.  So understand this project is not a 6 month make over, but will evolve over the next few years.  Phase I includes opening the theatre and the fitness center and is two and a half to three years out. 

The future vision for the center is to have a combination of local merchants, larger retail stores, restaurants with outdoor seating, services and more.  One of the speakers said he would like to be able to step outside in five years and see 100 people enjoying a meal at one of several restaurants with outdoor seating.  He mentioned one of their properties, Roosevelt Mall in Philadelphia, PA, that from a demographics perspective was in a condition very much like Wynnewood shopping center when Brixmor took over the property.  That mall development has been a great success in the community.  For information on that property, visit Roosevelt Mall overview.

Questions and Answers went on for 30 minutes.  On a sad note, one of the tenants was robbed the night before.  The property manager was at the meeting and will be looking at what interim measures can be made to improve security, such as extra security sweeps when shifts end.  The toughest question was what can be done about the poor condition of the Kroger store.  I was very interested to hear that Brixmor is Kroger's largest landlord nationwide.  They have a very strong relationship, and this issue will be on the table. Other questions included:


-What are some of the challenges in redevelopment of WSC?  It is very expensive to renovate, although not as expensive as building new.  One example is the row of suites where the meeting was held.  That row is on an incline, so it is not feasible to combine those spaces for larger square footage.
-What about residential space?  Residential is a new area for Brixmor that they have just started to do.  The idea was thrown out for WSC, and might considered at some point.
-What about the triangle in front of Kroger?  Several options are under consideration.  Brixmor has discussed building new with one retail clothing store.

For the first time in the eighteen or more years many of us have mourned the condition of WSC it sounds like things are coming together in a way that works fiscally.  Part of what makes this work is the Flood Protection and Storm Drainage portion of the 2017 bond package that passed.  The bond package will make funds available for certain portions of the project.  The new housing construction along Zang near I30 and along Davis Street has attracted young professionals who will also be served by the center, another plus for the project.  

Brixmor wants your input on the redevelopment.  Whether it's because you live across the street and are worried about the view or about the historic features of the site, please call.  Especially contact Brixmor if you have a great business owner in mind as a tenant. Your input is one way Brixmor can get more Mom & Pop and local businesses signed on as tenants.  Brixmor contact:

Matthew Ryan
(713) 660-4347
Matthew.Ryan@Brixmor.com

 

This day in 1925

A Grand Boulevard That Never Was

Not to be confused with a section of Elmwood Blvd once named Kessler Blvd,* Dallas long ago had plans for a 100-foot-wide road that would loop from the Houston Viaduct through the Kessler Park and Stevens Park neighborhoods, turn south and follow the natural path of creeks near what is now Kiest Park before looping back north. A 1925 story in The Dallas Morning News is the first mention of this road.

The Dallas Morning News – January 8, 1925

The Dallas Morning News – January 8, 1925

Oak Cliff author Gayla Brooks wrote a wonderful history of the Kessler Loop for Oak Cliff Advocate, theorizing it was the automobile that ended plans for a road designed for horse-and-buggy transportation. But plans for the southern part of the loop continued well into the 1940s when cars were everywhere, so it's possible that two other factors played a role: funding and changes in transportation policy.

The Great Depression slowed most construction projects nationwide, especially ones that were not shovel-ready and later advanced under New Deal programs like Dealey Plaza's triple underpass and many buildings around White Rock Lake. And shortly after WWII, federal dollars focused on building the Interstate Highway System, which prioritized city-center to city-center connections. It makes sense that local roads like the Kessler Loop were shelved for national projects like I-35.
 
A larger road, the Outer Kessler Loop, did advance and became part of what today is Loop 12, with a segment named after county commissioner George W. Ledbetter.

"Inner Kessler Boulevard Works Wins Ledbetter Recognition." The Dallas Morning News – June 16, 1928

"Inner Kessler Boulevard Works Wins Ledbetter Recognition." The Dallas Morning News – June 16, 1928

 

*On October 14, 1942 the Dallas City Council voted to rename a section of Kessler Boulevard to Elmwood Boulevard "to eliminate confusion" with the proposed Inner Kessler Loop.

Preserving the Tennessee Dairy Wall

One of the only remnants of the Tennessee Dairy farm, established by Lindsley Waters in 1907, exists along Edgefield Ave between Elmhurst Pl and Balboa Dr. The northern portion of a stone wall protecting part of the 640-acre farm is remarkably preserved – while the southern portion could be mistaken for a pile of rubble, sadly. A middle portion is gone entirely, which begs the question whether preservation or restoration is desirable and even possible with grant funding.

Tennessee Dairies Inc. would be called a tech startup today: the technology used to pasteurize and deliver milk was revolutionary, and its contribution to the health and quality of life for early Dallas residents can't be brushed aside. While the stone wall represents a small portion of the dairy operation, a marker of some kind shouldn't be out of the question.

To gain access to funding, it may be necessary to first obtain historical designation through the Dallas County Historical Commission, which is charged with applying for state-approved historical markers and may provide up to 50% of the marker cost through its new Under-Told History Markers program. While the deadline for 2018 has passed, we will look at starting the process for 2019. 

Photo credit: Doug Klembara

Photo credit: Doug Klembara

Do you have any photos or anecdotal information that could help us in applying for this designation? Write a comment below or send an email here