Crow Holdings, which owns the Preston Center Pavilion building, hopes a skybridge will help seal the deal for a grocery store at the popular Dallas retail and restaurant destination. The skybridge would connect the Pavilion — where Crow wants to put a grocery tenant with existing retailers Marshalls, DSW and CVS — to the second story of the parking garage across Westchester Drive.
A meeting last Friday with Crow Holdings’ Anna Graves yielded a couple of big takeaways. For starters, the skybridge would add an important safety measure by protecting shoppers — and their grocery carts — from that busy street. Two, building a skybridge doesn’t mean that parking garage would have to stay.
“There is no question there’s a higher and better use for that site,” Graves told me. “Even if we build a skybridge, you can still tear down the parking garage and build something else there.”
Skybridges are apparently a lot like those walkways the airlines use to get you from the airport to the plane: They don’t attach permanently to the structure. So if the parking garage became, say, a hotel, the skybridge could be removed and reattached to the new structure. Or not.
Crow will improve the front facade of the Pavilion to coordinate with the skybridge, which will be 77 feet long and flare out slightly where it meets the building. It will be clear glass or open, and wide enough to accommodate strollers and grocery carts, maybe a few little tables.
Crow has about 50,000 square feet available in the Pavilion, which is ideal for a grocery store like, say, Tom Thumb, which is the rumored tenant but there is no lease. Food stores make great anchor tenants, Graves says, “because it draws everyone in to shop and then shop some more at surrounding stores. Keeps the neighborhood serviced.”
A grocery store is also allowed under current zoning. “We are not asking for a new use or changing the zoning at all,” Graves says. “Retail has been there for 60-plus years.”
But Crow is asking for a special use permit (SUP) to build the skybridge. On March 5, the Dallas Plan Commission is scheduled to vote on the skybridge, and word is the city planning staff has suggested approval.
One of plan’s biggest opponents is former Mayor Laura Miller, who is on the new stakeholder task force to determine the future of Northwest Highway and Preston Center. She told Steve Brown at the Morning News that parking in Preston Center is “already overburdened” and a grocer would only add to congestion. “The oversized sky bridge ... will cast a big shadow over an area that will now have obstructions in the sidewalk,” she added.
What obstructions? And, come August, a little shade might be welcome.
If a grocer does sign a lease, and the skybridge is built, Crow pledges $1.1 million to improve the existing parking garage with lighting, striping and painting. The skybridge costs about $750,000.
The thing is, Crow can lease to just about any business. Maybe the skybridge would help alleviate pedestrian traffic; grocery carts crossing Westchester from the store to the parking garage would be a nightmare. There is a parking garage in the back of the building, but it’s hard to imagine grocery carts on that downhill spiral.
If Crow does not get a grocer in that spot, what else might be there? “Probably a soft goods tenant,” Graves says.
A version of this story originally was published on Candy’s Dirt.