New owner seeks to bring nontraditional uses to Music City Mall at Vista Ridge

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The new owner of Music City Mall at Vista Ridge, Investment Corporation of America, has plans to revitalize, rebrand and bring nontraditional uses to the Lewisville mall.

The mall, which was renamed Music City Mall at Vista Ridge on Oct. 31, is currently 72 percent occupied based on square footage as of November, according to General Manager Richard Morton.

ICA Director of Special Projects Matt Rist said residents can expect ICA to fill the vacancies as well as bring in some nontraditional uses, such as hotels.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said. “It’s such a unique space. We are in talks with destination retailers like grocery stores and other vendors. We are so happy our larger anchor stores are all filled and thriving.”

Brian Andrus, owner and commercial Realtor at Stonebridge Real Estate Co., said ICA is a well-known company and has the ability to revitalize the mall into a strong competitor in the Metroplex.

“ICA is an experienced operator,” he said. “I think they were established the same year as the mall was built, so they are not first-time owners, which is a plus. I know they are going to be creative, and I am 100 percent sure they did their homework and have some things in mind.”

Finding a niche

In an effort to compete against surrounding shopping centers and malls, Morton said ICA will spend $3 million -$4 million on rebranding and investing in the mall to make it into a music haven.

Some of the investments include two baby grand pianos, two small stages on the lower level, a grand stage upstairs and 20, 65-inch TVs throughout the mall.

“We want the entertainment to be as local as possible,” Morton said. “On the grand stage I can see us inviting in schools to perform there. If there are art classes that want to display students’ art, we can do that at the grand stage area as well.”

Morton said there will be live entertainment every day of the week. During weekdays there will be entertainment from 6 p.m. to close and all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Rist said the mall will be hosting an open audition soon to get additional acts.

Other nonmusical improvements include a new playground on the upper level, a carousel, a 120-foot flagpole that will fly the American flag, new signs at each entrance and two marble monuments—one on each level—that will display the Ten Commandments.

ICA CEO John Bushman said the monuments are at all of ICA’s properties.

“I, along with our team members, just think that more love is needed in the world by all from the time we are born to the time that we leave this earth, and we think the Ten Commandments is the foundation for love and what we should all aspire to live by,” Bushman said.

Although the mall is in the process of being revitalized, Morton said he thinks the perception of the mall will be a hurdle he will have to face for some time.

“I think the perception of the mall is something we need to change as well in the community,” he said. “We have to get them away from the ‘Oh, well, there’s nothing at the mall; there’s not a lot at the mall.’ And I think we have already started to see an increase in foot traffic just from curiosity.”

Competition woes

Lewisville Economic Development Director Nika Reinecke said the mall’s value has significantly decreased over the years because the mall, which opened in 1989, has not been able to compete against newer malls.

“At one point it played an extremely significant part, and it provided a lot of the sales tax revenue for the city,” she said. “But unfortunately for the past few years the mall has declined from the lack of any new investment in the mall, and of course the mall has to compete with a lot of other newer malls in the area, such as Stonebriar [Centre] and Grapevine Mills.”

Additionally, Reinecke said the mall has had to compete with a lot of newer, larger shopping centers such as the Shops at Highland Village, “that [have] the same type of stores as the mall used to have.”

Andrus said malls that do not offer something more than just retail often find themselves struggling.

“You have to be competitive—that’s how you survive in the marketplace,” he said. “You have to get creative and find ways to bring people into the mall. Even though you have a lot of online things going on there’s certain things you can’t do online, like you can’t get a haircut or massage.”

Andrus said malls are reinventing themselves to become more of a destination and attracting more service and entertainment-oriented uses.

For example, Stonebriar Centre in Frisco is in the process of adding a hotel and conference center, and The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano is constructing restaurants and incorporating office space around the mall.

Reinecke said the city has done studies on the mall, and analysts all agree it must offer more than retail.

“That’s the direction that they would like the mall to take—especially entertainment and maybe a sports theme as the focus,” she said. “Something that would be unique, something that is different from the other malls that would draw people to the mall other than just shopping.”

Reinecke said the mall could also benefit from an updated food court.

“We have a fairly large office market around the mall; 6,000-7,000 people work within just half a mile radius around the mall,” she said. “So having people that actually work in the area is good because the mall can be utilized as a place to go eat and shop.”

Morton said he has plans to add more tenants in the food court and possibly rename the court to Music City Café.

Morton said his overall vision is to make Music City Mall at Vista Ridge the community’s mall again by attracting tenants that residents would like to see.

“We want to see the parking lot full of cars, and we are taking several steps to make that happen,” he said. “We want to be part of the community, and we want [the mall] to be family-oriented so the whole family can come and enjoy their time here.”
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