A year after tornadoes tore through Dallas, many damaged businesses are just now moving into new buildings or completing plans to do so next year.
Stores and restaurants — some wiped out or temporarily closed and others whose rebuilding efforts were delayed by the pandemic — are regaining their footing. Others have decided to move on.
North Haven Gardens expects to move out of its temporary tent store and into a new building this month. Home Depot reopened its store on Forest Lane a couple of weeks ago. The Toy Maven’s repaired store in Preston Royal Village was just finished this month.
The Gap and Neighborhood Services told Preston Oaks shopping center they have no plans to return. Likewise, Interabang Books has signed a lease for space on Lovers Lane, where it had quickly reopened after the tornado with temporary bookshelves from IKEA. Damaged buildings at Marsh Lane Plaza at the intersection of Walnut Hill Lane have been leveled, but no plans have been disclosed for the property.
Preston Oak’s anchor store, Central Market, which said last year it was staying to be a catalyst for the shopping center redevelopment, had a choice. It could hurry up and reopen its tornado-damaged store at Preston Road and Royal Lane in time for this Thanksgiving. Or it could take it down to the studs, negotiate more space and create the updated store it’s wanted for the neighborhood.
“We have an opportunity to restate and improve the store in a number of ways,” said Stephen Butt, president of H-E-B’s Central Market division based in Dallas.
And that’s the plan. The Preston Oaks shopping center location, which has been closed since it was severely damaged on Oct. 20, 2019, will open in April or May, he said.
Looking for tenants
Regency spokesman Eric Davidson said construction on the rest of Preston Oaks will begin soon. A strip of stores that had to be torn down after the tornado is expected to be finished by summer, and tenants will be able to build out their spaces in time for holiday shopping 2021, he said.
The new building will look familiar, Davidson said, and will have about a dozen spaces for new and returning stores and restaurants, including Talbots, Sample House, The Pedi Spa, Fish City Grill and Marco’s Pizza. The other signed leases are with Preston Animal Clinic, I Heart Yogurt, Hollywood Feed and Tip Top Cleaners.
McDonald’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes and ViewPoint Bank moved into buildings earlier this year that were damaged but could be repaired.
Two large spaces in the new building, each more than 10,000 square feet, are actively being marketed, Davidson said. “We’re in talks for the open spaces. We want to be 100% leased by the time construction is completed next summer.”
Preston Oaks is on the southeast corner of the Preston and Royal intersection in the heart of Preston Hollow, one of the most affluent neighborhoods of Dallas. The average annual household income is $260,000 within a one-mile radius and $158,000 within three miles, and homes in the area are valued at an average of $1 million.
A couple dozen businesses on the southwest corner along Royal Lane that include White Rock Coffee and Greek Isles Grill & Taverna are still damaged and closed behind a chain link fence. The corner has multiple owners, and other businesses and offices along the Preston Road side have reopened, including Benchmark Bank.
The four corners of Preston and Royal housed more than 100 storefronts, national chains such as Sephora, Shake Shack, Barnes & Noble, Sur la Table and Ballard Designs and local businesses including Eatzi’s, TJ’s Seafood, Roma boutique, Royal China, Ken’s Man’s Shop and The Toy Maven.
Those stores are on the northeast and northwest corners that make up Preston Royal Village, a shopping center developed in the 1950s and 1960s by local real estate moguls Henry S. Miller and Trammell Crow. It remained family owned until Houston-based AmREIT purchased it for $62 million in 2012. Washington, D.C.-based Edens acquired AmREIT in 2015.
“It has been inspiring to see that despite these challenges, Preston Royal Village has remained a central gathering place for community and entrepreneurship,” said Michael Hale, senior vice president of leasing at Edens.
The tornadoes broke glass windows, damaged some roofs and tossed about heavy heating and air conditioning units at Preston Royal Village, but one store that Hale referenced as “a longtime beloved family hub at the center,” The Toy Maven, was severely damaged.
Candace Williams moved her toy store to a temporary space up Preston Road to Forest Lane as her biggest selling season was in full swing last year.
She built up the store’s online business while new customers found the store in its temporary space.
“We had such a great experience and stayed relevant and viable and in business,” Williams said. “We were so busy making lemonade, but it feels so good to be back in Preston Royal.”
This year, about 5% of her business has moved online ,and 15% to 20% has shifted to curbside pickup, often after a FaceTime session with a customer.
Kyle Hall, general manager of Interabang Books, said his replacement store is smaller, about half the size of the Preston Oaks location, but sales have increased. The new location is on Lovers Lane next to Eatzi’s and just west of the Dallas North Tollway. It’s the only bookstore in the area, whereas before it competed with a Barnes & Noble across the street.
“It’s busier here, and we’ve even started opening an hour earlier at 11 a.m. on Sunday because people were coming to the door then,” Hall said. Customers say parking is better and the store’s sign is more visible to cars.
Central Market’s Butt knows some people will be disappointed to find out they have to wait several more months before the store opens. But they won’t be once they see the rebuilt location, he said.
The upper level interior will have new balcony seating that overlooks the store. The bakery, deli sandwich bar and coffee bar have been reconfigured with seating. The fresh seafood area will be expanded. Self-checkout will be added as well as a third exit across the front.
By adding 4,000 square feet of space and gutting the building with all surfaces and structures and fixtures removed, the new design will make the store feel much bigger, Butt said.
If the store opened this year, Butt said, it would have been under construction during the holiday season, he said. “This way in April or May, it will be all finished.”
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