Friday, March 20, 2009

Huge Park Lane project opening across from Dallas' NorthPark



Park Lane is looking less like a construction fortress. The urban mixed-use development on North Central Expressway across from NorthPark Center is ready for shoppers.Nordstrom Rack and Dick's Sporting Goods, stores that required a trip north of LBJ Freeway for Dallas residents, are now open.

Shoppers line up for chance to win $1,000 shopping spree at new Nordstrom Rack
Wondering how to get in?

Enter from the North Central Expressway frontage road, or zip above it on NorthPark Boulevard into a parking garage to the second level of Dick's.

Or take an escalator, elevator or stairs from the garage down to Nordstrom Rack, the Seattle-based retailer's popular outlet store. From Greenville Avenue, take Blackwell Street to the frontage road and into the garage. Both stores are on a street, smartly shaded for Dallas summers, with wide sidewalks that beg for outdoor seating and a cocktail.

By early next year, you'll be able to continue on NorthPark Boulevard to the development's elevated Greenville Avenue side. It will be anchored by North Texas' largest Whole Foods Market at one end and restaurants at the other, where a cascading fountain will follow steps down to the street level.

Future stores include some that are common in suburbia but not inside LBJ.

In April, Children's Place and Lane Bryant/Cacique open, and Old Navy is scheduled for fall. Developer Harvest Partners says it may have a replacement to fill a large space that had been reserved for now-defunct Circuit City.

Park Lane secured its financing long before funds for construction projects dried up. Although much of the project is up and ready for an economic recovery, many retailers are unable to commit to new stores, so Park Lane's retail and restaurant space will open in phases.

Bailey's Prime Plus, Village Burger Bar and other restaurants won't begin opening until summer. Two more components, a hotel and a sports club, have been pushed back and have no opening dates.

The Heights at Park Lane, apartments developed by PM Realty in a joint venture with Harvest Partners, is about one-third leased. Amenities, views and verandas in 20- and 15-story high-rises are similar to Uptown's new projects. Three of four penthouses that rent for more than $10,000 a month are leased.

For years, the southeast corner of Park Lane and Central Expressway was prime property for renewal. Retail made sense for that spot, across from NorthPark Center – considered a top U.S. fashion destination after its recent $235 million renovation and expansion – said K. Blaine Lee of Harvest Partners.

While retail easily clusters around suburban malls with wide-open spaces, encircling NorthPark with more destination shopping has been harder.

"We had been trying to get this property for 10 years," Lee said.

"We had Ikea signed," but Frisco officials were ready with the big subsidies that the giant home furnishings retailer demanded, said Tod A. Ruble, who with Lee, Eliot B. Barnett and Robert A. Baker make up Harvest Partners. They have spent years putting this 33.5-acre, $750 million project together.

Putting up a giant deep blue and bright yellow box would have been an easier construction feat, but would have lacked the charm of Park Lane.


Pulling it together

It had to be a 24-hour, densely populated place, Lee said. "People had to live here, come for shopping and entertainment, work here and go to school here."

The corner is also home to the Art Institute of Dallas and the International Culinary School. Aveda Institute, the salon company's first school in North Texas, is opening in July.

Harvest Partners estimates the development will draw 15 million visitors a year, compared with NorthPark's 23 million. About 7,500 people will work or live on the property. About 500,000 live within a five-mile radius.

It's across Park Lane from a DART station, and a trolley that will run between NorthPark and the station will have stops in the development.

The challenge was to weave a mixed-use development around three existing buildings on the site. But the office buildings and the culinary school, inside a former cinema, also provided the cash flow to make the project work, Ruble said.

The developers credit the former landowners – NorthPark developer Ray Nasher and Kolter Property Co. – for securing the zoning and other city approvals and improvements to allow a multi-use project.

Tenants will complement those at NorthPark, Barnett said. When Nasher sold the land, he included two restrictions: no department stores more than 100,000 square feet and no movie theater.

"If I could trade a suburban site with one across from NorthPark Center, it's a no-brainer. As stores choose to open, we'll get them," Ruble said.

Park Lane is expected to have 700,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space.

Older centers north of Park Lane that face Central Expressway are leased and getting new tenants. Sports Authority expanded its Caruth Plaza store last year. This summer, Toys R Us is moving south from its longtime Walnut Hill Lane location next to Best Buy into space vacated by Linens 'n Things and CompUSA. It will include a full Babies R Us store similar to combo stores it built in Allen and Irving last year.


Spillover effect
The Park Lane development is having an impact on nearby projects.

"It's great for the east side of Dallas for Park Lane to finish and be successful," said Oliver Robinson, vice president of retail development at Trammell Crow Co.

Trammell Crow is preparing a 44-acre site for a nearly 500,000-square-foot shopping center at East Northwest Highway and Skillman Street that's expected to house J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.

With Target, Kohl's and other stores across Northwest Highway at Medallion Center, the development would create a destination cluster of big boxes now not inside LBJ.


PARK LANE PROJECT AT A GLANCE

Size: 33.5 acres, equivalent to five city blocks.

The $750 million project includes 750,000 square feet of office and 700,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space. Whole Foods and smaller shops with surface parking face Greenville Avenue on an elevated level. The rest of the tenants are at the same level as the North Central Expressway frontage road.

The project has staggered openings:

ENTERTAINMENT

Splitsville Lanes — Fall 2009

RETAIL

Nordstrom Rack — March 19

Dick’s Sporting Goods — March 19

Lane Bryant/Cacique — April 3

Children’s Place — April 24

Aveda Institute — July (March 16 opening temporary space for job fair and student applicants.)

Old Navy — Fall 2009.

Whole Foods — late 2009 or early 2010

DINING

Bailey’s Prime Plus — Summer 2009

Village Burger Bar — Summer 2009

Fresh Berry — Summer/Fall 2009

Gordon Biersch — Fall 2009

FUTURE PLANS WITH NO DATES: Hotel Sorella and SportsClub/LA health club.

SOURCE: Harvest Partners



By MARIA HALKIAS
The Dallas Morning News