As the Collin Creek Mall in Plano undergoes a transformation to a mixed-use development with homes, shops and entertainment, the developer says crews hit a snag in trying to preserve the nearly 40-year-old "Sanger-Harris" mosaics outside the mall.
The large tile mosaics flank three walls of the south end of the mall at the former Macy's. Over the weekend, developers said they learned the mosaics could not be saved due to asbestos.
"The materials they used to attach the mosaic, they had to attach to the structure, it's all full of asbestos," said Sean Terry with Centurion American, the development group working on the mall.
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Terry said the mosaic is made up of thousands of tiny tiles, each glued to walls that were found to contain asbestos. Terry says the tiles can not be safely removed and cleaned.
Instead, Terry told NBC 5 Centurion American has found new pieces of the same tile which will be incorporated on a smaller-scale in the new project.
"We're not going to replicate it, we're going to try to duplicate it as best we can," said Terry.
The mosaics, similar to the ones taken down during Valley View Mall redevelopment, have been in place at Collin Creek Mall since it opened in 1981.
"It became a landmark. You knew you were in Plano when you saw those beautiful mosaics from the highway," said Hava Johnston – who started a Facebook group called Collin Creek Mall: An Era Gone By.
The group has nearly 8,500 members who share memories of the mall and track the efforts to redevelop it.
Johnston had hoped the mosaics could be saved.
"It was one thing that never changed. The stores changed. They were Sanger-Harris mosaics, they were Foley's mosaics, they were Macy's mosaics," she explained.
"Its nostalgic for me, it brings back childhood memories when I see them. They're in every photo I've ever had in this area and it just meant home," said Johnston.
Terry said the developers are working to preserve other artwork and nostalgia from the mall.
There's so many things we're going to be able to save throughout the mall: little pictures and little drawings," said Terry.
"People are passionate about it and we really enjoy that because this is going to be their mall we want to listen to what they want us to do," he added.
Developers expect the first phase of the Collin Creek Mall redevelopment will be complete in two years.
The mall closed at the end of July for the start of construction, with the exception of JC Penney. It will remain open.