As retail giant Macy’s plots its exit from Collin Creek Mall by the end of March and more than 50 storefronts lie vacant, mall tenants and shoppers are left wondering about the future of the once-proud shopping destination and the surrounding area.
For years, city officials have discussed redevelopment plans for the struggling mall, located near the corridor of US 75 and President George Bush Turnpike, but so far all plans have proven difficult to coordinate.
The city “would like to have seen something three, four or five years ago get started; … it just hasn’t happened,” Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock said. “Collin Creek Mall, for probably the last 10 years, has been a high priority for [the] council to revitalize, but we can’t go in and use public dollars on private property to do something like that.”
The main obstacle to redevelopment efforts, officials say, is that the properties at the mall and surrounding shops have 15 different owners, making it hard to move forward with a single vision for the area. Peter Braster, director of special projects for the city of Plano, said for redevelopment to occur, landowners have two options: do it themselves or sell their respective properties.
In January, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said he envisions opening up the creek that runs under the mall and lining it with new projects to promote “a bustle of economic activity—just like we see in Legacy West.”
At stake in the long run is the revitalization of a larger downtown Plano area that stretches along 15th Street from K Avenue to the mall and the 156-acre mixed-use development Heritage Creekside, city officials said.
The mall, with its inherent obstacles to development, sits at the heart of these aspirations.
Collin Creek Mall has been a Plano staple since 1981. However, mall tenants said business has been declining in recent years.
Rumors of redevelopment and new anchor stores have been circling the mall for years. These are rumors from customers and other tenants but nothing from the mall itself, said Doris Bell, who owns Personalizing It, a custom embroidery shop at the mall.
Bell’s shop has been open in the mall for about a decade. In that span, Bell said she has seen many stores close and some small stores open.
Bell said her business is doing well because it does not rely solely on foot traffic.
On the other hand, the Yes Foxy Boutique, which has been open in the mall for a little over a year, is expected to close its doors by the end of April.
“Traffic in the last year dropped traumatically,” said Janice Reed Duvall, owner of the Yes Foxy Boutique. “When Macy’s announced they were closing out, people thought the mall was closed.”
In today’s marketplace, restaurants are seen as the new mall anchors and drive people to retail stores, Braster said.
Collin Creek Mall has only four restaurants remaining in the food court.
Obstacles to planning
The 15 area landowners include Macy’s, Sears and a handful of real estate organizations that have not collaborated formally with the city on redevelopment efforts.
The four mall anchors—Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears and Amazing Jake’s Food & Fun—own their respective spaces and adjoining parking lots.
There have been no discussions between the city and the owners of the mall’s various properties, Glasscock said.
“We have made it pretty clear that the city will be open and excited to hear plans or projects,” he said. “We’re ready to sit down and start talking to see how we might be able to assist, but until some developer or somebody of interest comes in and has a package together that they can present to us, we’re really in a waiting mode.”
While proponents of redevelopment at Collin Creek Mall wait in limbo, developers are busy erecting ambitious new projects nearby.
Heritage Creekside, a mixed-use project located at the southwest corner of Alma Drive and Plano Parkway, is the start of a renaissance for central Plano, said Bill Flaherty, president of the development firm Rosewood Property Co.
When completed, the development will include single-family homes, restaurants, a hotel, retail stores, apartments and 2.3 million square feet of office space.
Rosewood Property has owned this land for roughly 40 years and was waiting for the right opportunity to develop, Flaherty said in a previous interview with Community Impact Newspaper.
With the $1.5 billion CityLine development located nearby in Richardson, southeast Plano is positioned to draw the interest of other developers, potentially changing the dynamic of central Plano, Flaherty said.
Braster called the Heritage Creekside development a “huge shot in the arm” for southeast Plano.
A path forward
The best option for Collin Creek Mall is to become a mixed-use development because it would drive long-term sustainability, city officials said.
Glasscock echoed LaRosiliere’s statements hoping for redevelopment that would include a walkway along the creek.
“The hope for that area is that something can come in and really redevelop and revitalize that whole area,” Glasscock said. “I’m looking at it from [President George Bush Turnpike] north to 15th Street. … We think there’s some great opportunities to come in and for somebody to redevelop and revitalize that whole area.”
No timeline exists for when this redevelopment could take place. It depends on when and what the current owners decide to do, Braster said.
Land at the corner of 11th Street and K Avenue is also expected to spur development in south Plano if plans for a large apartment community come to fruition at the site, city officials said.
A developer plans to purchase this plot of land, which is home to the Plano Marine boat dealership. The Plano Planning & Zoning Commission has already moved to approve site plans for the proposed apartment complex, Braster said.
The development is a ways off, Glasscock said, because the boat dealership is still looking to relocate. However, Glasscock said he believes the apartment community will be a good connector from CityLine in Richardson to downtown Plano.
“I think Heritage Creekside and the Collin Creek Mall going down 15th Street to downtown Plano and then kind of turning the corner and coming back to State Farm [in Richardson] is really a new downtown Plano,” Flaherty said. “I can really see a vibrant, rich community growing out of that by simply connecting those areas.”