A developer who grew up visiting Valley View Mall is leading its replacement with the Dallas Midtown project that broke ground Friday.
Scott Beck was born the same year Valley View opened 43 years ago.
"These are the old stomping grounds," Beck said. "I used to ride my bike here to Valley View Mall as a kid."
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Five years ago, Beck Ventures purchased most of the mall property. The firm has worked since then with city officials and neighboring property owners to rezone the area for a higher density urban re-development.
"This is the largest urban district rezone in the history of the city of Dallas," Beck said. "It extends all the way from Preston Road to the toll road."
They turned shovels on Dallas Midtown Friday and began demolishing the largest remaining portion of the shopping center.
"It's a chance to give a rebirth to this area and really put in place something that is sorely needed for the city of Dallas and this area," Beck said.
Plans call for high-rise office, residential and retail construction with a new central park.
The vast mall parking lots provide space that is scarce in Dallas for large corporate campus construction that could compete with relocations Collin County has lured.
"We really can stop the urban flight to the north by putting up a catcher's mitt right here at (Interstate) 635, giving corporate users an alternative to leaving the city of Dallas," Beck said.
That possibility is very appealing to Dallas city leaders who are anxious for more tax revenue to help them tackle expensive pension and infrastructure problems around the city.
"We've got to grow the tax base," said Dallas City Council Member Tennell Atkins.
Dallas Midtown is united with the area around old Southwest Center Mall in a Tax Increment Financing District. Increased value from the redevelopment of both areas will be used to repay developers for upfront investments they make in new streets and infrastructure necessary for the projects. The developers receive TIF refunds after meeting goals for private investment in their projects.
"If you're going to be a great city – a great city – you've got to grow north, south, east and west," Atkins said. "You've got to grow all parts of the city."
Beck said the Midtown area can be an economic engine for other parts of the city.
"It's the right thing for the city of Dallas to do," he said. "To make sure that the core is healthy we've got to make sure that the outer borders are healthy as well."
The new owner of Southwest Center Mall is returning to its old name of Redbird. New development is planned in large parking lots of that mall and improved access is planned to adjacent Interstate 20 and U.S. Highway 67.
At Valley View Mall, a separate owner has already demolished the closed Macy's store. The Sears store will close in two weeks. The AMC Theater will be open until the end of the year, along with some businesses on the Preston Road wing of Valley View Mall.
Demolition of main sections of Valley View will take months. Construction of new roads through the property could start in January. Beck said building permit applications for new construction will come as soon as new water lines are installed along the new streets.
Beck believes the Dallas Midtown area could one day have property values rivaling downtown Dallas.