For more than a decade, the city of Plano has been discussing a total revamp of Collin Creek Mall, one of the most prominent but struggling properties in the city. And now that a developer has purchased several key parcels and applied for a zoning change, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said the city’s hopes are on the verge of coming to fruition.
“For the longest [time], we’ve been in the red zone, and I think we’re basically on the one-yard line ready to punch it in,” LaRosiliere said in January.
Hopes to save the property were long complicated by the fact that Collin Creek Mall was owned by several landlords with different interests. Any potential buyer had to get them all on the same page.
But in December, developer Mehrdad Moayedi of Centurion American said he purchased the mall’s former Macy’s and Dillard’s buildings as well as the Sears property and the interior structure of the mall. He said he is in ongoing discussions with J.C. Penney about whether the retailer will move to a new building south of the mall. The final property, where Amazing Jake’s operates, is under contract and scheduled to close on a sale in May.
Moayedi plans to build a dense mix of residential units—3,100 in the initial plans—into the areas currently occupied by parking lots and anchor stores. The new residents could then shop and dine at a series of boutique retail stores, restaurants and entertainment venues Moayedi envisions for the property located near the US 75 corridor.
“What makes these old sites work is the density of residential [units], and the people on-site that can, on a day-to-day basis, go to Starbucks, go to the restaurants,” Moayedi said. “We’ve got a lot of things [in the plans] that need a constant customer base, and you can’t expect people to do that during the week unless they live there.”
But before Moayedi can begin construction, he must convince the Plano City Council to sign off on his residential plans. Moayedi was wary of adding apartments to the site when he spoke to Community Impact Newspaper in August, before he had purchased most of the properties.
“We’ve got to play by Plano’s rules—what [the] council’s vision is today—and there seems to be negative opinion towards multifamily,” Moayedi said at the time. “We don’t want to come in and butt heads with the council. We want to come here and do what they want, [and] at the same time make it economically work for us.”
But Moayedi’s plans filed Dec. 27 with the city include several urban-style apartment buildings clustered around the existing body of the mall. Plans also include single-family homes and townhouses on the west end of the property.
Ron Kelley is one of several Plano City Council members who have campaigned in the past against apartment-heavy redevelopment projects. In a 2017 discussion over plans to overhaul the former Texas Instruments office campus north of the mall, Kelley said they were part of a “disturbing trend” in which multifamily units drove major redevelopment efforts in the city.
But Kelley said in January that he expects Collin Creek Mall’s final plan to involve a mix of housing units, including apartments. He said he was “ecstatic” Moayedi was successful in acquiring the first properties.
Redevelopment of Collin Creek Mall is “critical” to the future of the area, he said.
“Let’s just see what the final numbers are,” Kelley said of the apartments in the plan. “This developer has publicly stated that he understands the [apartment] concerns in Plano, and I think at the end of the day we’re going to see a mix of different types of residential.”
As the developer works with city staff to prepare a final plan for the Plano Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council’s approval, Moayedi said the transition process at the mall remains undecided.
Some parts, including J.C. Penney’s anchor store location, may remain open during initial construction. Other parts may have to close in four or five months, which would affect current tenants, he said.
Moayedi told residents at a Jan. 24 meeting that he expects to break ground on the various additions to the property in the fourth quarter of 2019. The project could take five or six years, although Moayedi said that timeline would depend on a number of factors, such as an economic downturn.
In the meantime, city officials are closer than ever to facilitating a massive project they hope will have ripple effects for development throughout southeast Plano, LaRosiliere said.
“Since I’ve been on council, I don’t know one project that I’ve heard more desire to see something come about than Collin Creek Mall,” LaRosiliere said. “It really holds a special place in many of our longtime residents’ hearts. It has some historical and emotional significance.
“And for that reason, we’re going to do it right. We’re going to make it the catalyst that redefines our downtown.”
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