Once a prosperous and popular mall, Valley View Center at Preston Road and Interstate 635 has been in decline for a decade. If developer Scott Beck's execution can match his vision, that location will become the new Uptown with Dallas Midtown, the ambitious mixed-use entertainment center he has in the works.
The project will include a hotel, office space, retail, condos and apartments, 25-acre park, and seven-story open-air market. It would, in essence, create an Uptown/West Village for northern Dallasites. Beck envisions it as a “satellite downtown.”
“Dallas needs the rubber band to snap back from the north, so it can be a more holistic city,” he says. “If everyone is continuing to move north, then that's not good for Dallas. If the Dallas hypothesis and incubation of Uptown was the first experiment, this is the second.”
“If the Dallas hypothesis and incubation of Uptown was the first experiment, [Midtown] is the second,” says developer Scott Beck.
The city has redistricted nearly 450 acres between Preston Road, Montfort Drive, Interstate 635 and Alpha Road. Beck says that 98 percent of the groundwork, almost all driven by the city, is completed, and that he and the other nearly 200 property owners in the district can begin development by early 2015.
Beck and his family at Beck Ventures purchased Valley View when it went into bankruptcy in 2012, competing against several other bidders whom Beck claims had visions of an outlet mall, which he says “would suck.”
“It's important from a community perspective to do the right thing,” he says. “The center of the population for density for Dallas is pretty much right where Midtown is. It's kind of fortunate from a city-planning point of view that the mall went under. It gives the city an opportunity to reinvent a place in the middle of the density.
“We saw it as an opportunity to create something for the city instead of just a pure money-making play.”
The development will take up 70 acres, and the $3.5 billion project will be ongoing for around 20 years. But Dallasites can begin utilizing the area as soon as late 2016, if things go smoothly.
“It looks like it will take two to three cycles of four to nine years to get everything in place. By the end of '16, beginning of '17, people will be able to get dinner and a movie,” Beck says.
“We have some additional concepts coming in right now. There's currently, on Montfort, an old Steak 'n Shake with an empty lot that we're looking to turn into an outdoor restaurant with music and sand volleyball. It'll be kind of like The Rustic in Uptown, maybe with some food trucks as well as true table service, including drinks.”
At the center of Midtown will be Chelsea Row, the main thoroughfare connecting Preston and Montfort, piercing right through the heart of where Valley View used to stand. Beck Ventures will keep the AMC theater as an anchor, but it will undergo a renovation to match the upscale vibe of the envisioned development.
To keep the street “human-sized,” the buildings along Chelsea Row will cap out at three stories. The high-rise apartments and hotels will be set back a few blocks.
Though Midtown is patterned after Uptown, Beck acknowledges that it will likely appeal to an older demographic. He envisions families using the entertainment venues and empty nesters settling into condos.
Of course, with a development whose completion will span three decades, it's impossible to predict what Midtown will actually turn out to be. And still not resolved is the fate of the Sears store and its adjacent automotive center, whose management insists it's staying right where it is.
“We could be surprised,” Beck says. “It's hard that we're talking about something that's happening over a long period of time, and a lot of actuaries are having a hard time predicting because we have so many people moving here.”