North Dallas Chamber President Outlines Possibilities For Valley View, Surrounding Land

SonicatValleyView.jpg
Photo by Steve Walker
On Tuesday, Friend of Unfair Park Ed D. sent us this photo taken by a friend who was there for the dismantling of Valley View's Sonic this week.
At the end of last week we spoke with council member Linda Koop about the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce's involvement in doing something, anything with Valley View Center, some or most of which may not be standing by the time LBJ construction's wrapped in five or so years. As Koop explained it: This is about not only the aging, emptying mall, but about the land around it -- 400 acres, she said, though we've since learned it could be a little less ... or slightly more. See? Hard to say.

But this is what interim chamber president Bruce Bradford has to say on the subject. He's far more specific. He uses phrases like "greespace" and "streetscape" and "cycling" and "arts center."

Bradford tells Unfair Park that Steve Taylor, the longtime head of the chamber, actually began convening meetings about the fate of Valley View back in April, inviting, as Koop has explained, surrounding property owners and stakeholders. "The focus," he says, "was on looking at what steps were necessary to begin transforming that area" and, eventually, having someone sketch out a road map for what the land should look like sooner than later. There have been a handful of meetings since then, the most recent only a few days ago.

"The focus at this point is on identifying an internationally renown firm that will be tasked with going forward to create the first visioning document," he says. "That will take several months -- proposals were for four months -- to create that. From that, then some other activities will take place relative to the ultimate zoning of the whole tract of land and how things would develop on a time line. As you said, there are a number of disparate interests at the table, and they are very wide-ranging." A slight chuckle. "That's the next step -- to move forward with that and get the land owners and their reps to write the checks necessary to get that visioning plan."

He says five firms have made pitches to the group. I asked what they're proposing for the land.

"The common theme in all five is that there needs to be a wide variety of uses considered," he says. "There needs to be a greater proportion of greenspace in that part of town than there is now. They're all very sympathetic to the idea that streetscape and the usability by multiple factions will be very high priority, whether they be pedestrian malls or cycling or mass transit ingress and egress. Everyone has taken a very focused point of view on really making this a showcase destination that matches the showcase destination of any great city you can point to."

I asked: Is there any chance that much of the land -- whether it's the mall, the old Doran dealership -- could be scraped clean? Would he like to just start over?

"Those are all possibilities," he says. "Those are some of the visions brought by the design firms. They have shared projects that have been done in places all over the globe. They focus on their domestic work, but they talk about redesigning huge tracts of industrial land in New York and some of the harbor areas that have been transformed into these new hip areas -- and hip, I mean, in terms of great places to live, great places to work, great arts venues. I don't think there's a compelling need for North Dallas to rebuild itself as an arts center, but a lot of things like that, that quality of life concept, can be incorporated into the site and take advantage of its location.

"A lot of the other pieces of town in the last 10, 15 years have been high priorities," he continues. "And this will be vague for a while, but right steps are being taken. We'll look up in five years, perhaps, and 10 to 15 for sure and be proud of the process the group is going through with regards to the amenities and world-class level of what will the results will be there. It's got to be one of the greatest redevelopment opportunities in North Texas and across the U.S., and it'll be great to look back and see the kind of clients who call it home, whether it's the corporate campus of Fortune 50 companies or it turns out to be a more granular project than something as grand as that. The possibilities are limitless. We can't bring mountains or oceans to Valley View, but other than that, the possibilities are limitless."

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33 comments
The Derelict
The Derelict

Own a lot of commercial property and always love when those 'smart' people on the outside looking in have big, bright ideas about someone else's property and how and when it should be developed. This city is filled with grand coveteers.

Mavdog
Mavdog

Bradford is absolutely correct in saying "It's got to be one of the greatest redevelopment opportunities in North Texas and across the U.S".

the property has almost all the infrastructure existing (streets, utility connections), no environmental issues from past uses, and a mature, developed submarket surrounding the site.

I do scratch my head a bit when he talks about "pedestrian malls or cycling or mass transit ingress and egress". As a cyclist this is definitely NOT an area of town that appeals to me for a ride, and there's really nothing they could do (outside of creating some hills...) that would make it an appealing spot for a ride. As far as "mass transit ingress and egress", the fact there there is no rail, and no current plan for rail, anywhere near this location makes that idea hollow.

IMO that is the primary defect in the redevelopment of the area for a high density urban project. Without mass transit, and that phrase does not include buses, a highly dense project doesn't make sense. Bradford can talk all he wants about "ingress and egress", but the train isn't anywhere near this place to allow for any getting in or out on it.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

As for the property owners dot dot dot , Who wants to be the one who thought they had a "BIT" of a chance to recoup some of their investment only to see an dreaded eminent domain clause used to condemn the property reduce its value so the parcel can become an intersection ?

That is a lot of land how many separate owners are they talking about ?

Herding cats comes to mind as we watch this project unfold .

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

Rail lines along LBJ, Spring Valley, and the Tollway would help.  I wonder how many decades will pass first.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Now that is scary “a visioning document”.   This is like asking Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to paint a picture of a sun set.  Never trust anyone who has to hire some one to provide insight and vision.   That is a blatant admission that you can’t tell the difference between your arse and a hole in the ground.   If you do not have vision yourself (and you are charged with a project like this (or any other for that matter)) you should bow out. You are unqualified.   Oh I forgot that in itself is an asset here in Dallas.  Again this seems to me like just another opportunity for someone to spend money on consultants (tax money at that).

Paul
Paul

Be scared, be very scared when an NGO or government group starts talking about "vision statements" and "visioning".

This is probably the first step in a rezoning case.

As to what will be built, it will be whatever gives the greatest return on capital ...

I think that it will be something very similar to what is being built at the northwest corner of the intersection of Skillman and Northwest Highway.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Id love to see something on that property thats not just generic "Big Box Retail" that'll become a blighted rotting corpse and/or a mexican flea market down the road in 20 years, I've said it before, I and many other would like a nice outdoor shopping/lifestyle center on the property ala the grove or americana at brand, make it something the folks north of 635 can really be proud of that mixes retail, restaurants and residential.

T_bush
T_bush

Too bad they can't do something like La Cantera in San Antonio.  As of now, it would be best to demolish the whole thing and let the ghetto taint fade away before doing anything.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

Some forward thinking property owners getting together to hire a consultant and make a plan for their land? Good for them.Bunch of naysayers here poo-poo-ing their efforts already? Stay classy.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

I am confused about all this.  Are the actual property owners involved with this task force?  A group of concerned citizens is spending money to tell property owners what to do with their land?  Is this same task force going to try and rezone all the rundown properties out of existence?  Who stands to make the most money?  How is this group going to recoup their investment with these consultants?  Why am I not in the municipal consulting business since there never seems to be a recession in this industry?

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

The last straw was when The Game Chest closed.

STAY HARD GAME CHEST

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

oh boy how I dont miss the days of opening up the Journeys and having breakfast and lunch in that food court almost everyday. 

Montemalone
Montemalone

World Class

We have to quit aiming so low.

Galaxy Class from now on, or we're just not getting our money's worth.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

"The focus at this point is on identifying an internationally renown firm that will be tasked with going forward to create the first visioning document,"

They are so screwed .

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Wasn't there some crackhead developer a few years back who wanted to close down Love Field and build a Riverwalk-inspired "Texas Riviera" on the site? That can be your vision for Valley View.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

Did you read that tax money is involved? The *property owners* are grouping together to hire someone to help them make the area better. The article said THEY have to cut the check. Nowhere did it say tax money is being spent!

The property owners are doing this. They're not urban planners. They're not architects. Of course they're going to hire someone qualified to help them. Why is it "scary" that they want to hire someone to help them create a vision for their property?

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

Or what they built where Prestonwood used to be. 

Mavdog
Mavdog

Grove? Americana at Broad? What, are you a Caruso employee?

90 plus % of the tenants at those 2 projects already have stores located in northern Dallas.

Although one component at the Grove that's not already here is the farmers market. Don't think that will fill up the site tho....wait, maybe that's the answer! Scrape the entire area and turn it into community gardens!

The direction the economy seems to be going a community garden may be the best answer to the question of what the area needs most.

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

The Valley View Mall is already a mexican flea market.

Guest
Guest

La Cantera is half empty.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Apparently it is not the landowners doing this.  That's what makes this confusing.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

"The focus at this point is on identifying an internationally renown firm that will be tasked with going forward to create the first visioning document," he says. "That will take several months -- proposals were for four months -- to create that. From that, then some other activities will take place relative to the ultimate zoning of the whole tract of land and how things would develop on a time line. As you said, there are a number of disparate interests at the table, and they are very wide-ranging.

Sorry The Blah Blah Blah above numbed my mind to this Below.

" A slight chuckle. "That's the next step -- to move forward with that and get the land owners and their reps to write the checks necessary to get that visioning plan."

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Until the LBJ project is done, it's gonna be empty lot class. Expect it to look like the old Chevy dealership to the west for a few years.

Downtown_er
Downtown_er

Yeah, his name was Randall Turner, he is a broker who was trying to sell it to Leppert. 

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Dear Pezhuevon:While I did not note in the above article any mention of tax money I seem to recall that this issue with Valley View Mall has been brewing for some time-along the same time frame that the city council was wringing their hands about Red Bird (or what ever it is called) Mall and it’s condition (much like Valley View).    I seem to recall also some talk about tax abatements from the city for development at Valley View too..   As consultants, tax abatements and tax dollars are the SOP (standard operating procedure) for any development in Dallas………. Now I sure would LOVE to see a pledge from our city betters that no special consideration will be given to developers; but, I doubt I will see that ever in my life time.  

Guest
Guest

It actually says the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce is spearheading this, inviting surrounding property owners and other stakeholders to various meetings, and with the chuckling hope that the property owners themselves buy in to the vision when it comes time to write the checks (it doesn't actually say anywhere that the current property owners are involved at all with the "visioning". They may or may not be part of the "surrounding property owners" and, if invited to the meetings, they may or may not have participated. Nothing that the Chamber guys says confirms that the actual property owners are currently involved in this process at all).

Still private organizations, though.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Thats the point, we need something there that the whole community can be proud of, not just another redbird mall-type of setup..

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

 No, silly. It's Chinese.

Guest
Guest

An optimist would say it's half-full.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

The article is pretty clear that the landowners are at the table and they will be the ones cutting the check. It is highly unlikely every land-owner is there, and "other stakeholders" probably means "the City"... but the point is still clear. This a private group looking out for their interest. Frankly, I'm glad. Valley View and some of the stuff around it... well, I think we can agree it needs to change.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

Mister_Mean: I completely agree - SOP in Dallas is to woo developer's 'big projects' by throwing around abatements and tax money no matter how ill considered a project may be.

And, I think you're right on another point... if the property owners come up with a plan, there will likely be a request for some money from the City. (which the City Council won't be able to resist)

That said, I don't think some consideration for this area is outrageous. I mean things like infrastructure, etc. Whatever replaces Valley View mall will likely need new roads, water, sewer, etc.

Guest
Guest

If you're one of the property owners, you could either get involved with their outside group that you didn't ask them to form and potentially have a small voice in what happens with your own property.

Or you could just ignore the whole thing and do whatever it is you decide you want to do.

If it's my property, I'm going to try to figure out what's best for me, not let competitors and other "stakeholders" try to come up with something that, more than likely, will be closer to their best interests than my own.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

Good point - the North Dallas Chamber is spearheading this and not necessarily the current owners. However, if I owned some land in the area and I were being asked to write a check, you had better believe I'd want some say-so.

It doesn't seem the plan is written yet (the chamber guy said the next step is to get money to write the vision plan)

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