LaChandria Holt knew she wanted to open her own business, but it was a matter of finding the right place for her.

As Holt worked to open her wig store, the Hair Box, she learned about Music City Mall and its affordable leasing rates. She opened The Hair Box in July 2021. Now, a year later, she opened a second business, I Feel Pretty Kids Spa and Entertainment, in the same mall. Her latest business opened in April.

“It really gives you an opportunity,” Holt said. “It gives a lot of minorities an opportunity to open a business at a reasonable price.”

Music City Mall in recent years moved away from the traditional department stores and now focuses on local businesses.

Compared to other leasing options, the mall is affordable, Holt said. The affordable rent allows owners to keep their business even when it’s slow.

“When everything’s prices are so high, you really need that for a shot to even open a business,” Holt said.

Music City Mall has seen multiple changes over the last few months as local officials work to bring the mall into a new era.

Redevelopment discussion

The Lewisville City Council approved an agreement with The Catalyst group to prepare for the first phases of a Music City Mall redevelopment project during a March 21 •meeting.

Phase 1 of the project includes visioning, programming and stakeholder input. The second phase is master-planning, and Phase 3 is marketing. All three phases are projected to cost $248,000. The costs will come from the city’s general fund.

The first two phases are estimated to take 22-26 weeks to complete, according to the March 21 agenda item. Phase 3 is expected to be completed within 16 weeks after receiving the city’s notice to proceed.

Music City Mall and the surrounding development encompass a large portion of the southern gateway to the city. According to the city agenda item, over the past 20 years, the area has declined in market share to the point new investors have emerged to acquire the mall for repositioning and investment.

As this activity is already beginning to take place, it is critical these efforts occur in a planned manner that enhances the southern gateway, according to the agenda item.

Nearly all the anchor stores closed in the mall, and that brings forward the opportunity for larger-scale redevelopment, Lewisville’s Economic Development Director Marichelle Samples said. The city is looking at incentives and potential ideas to jump start redevelopment projects, but those plans have not been identified yet.

The funds approved by the council will go toward professional services master-planning, Samples said. The city is not an owner in the mall, so city officials do not control the project’s timelines. Ultimately, it’s the owners deciding on the timing of any redevelopment.

For now, mall officials are still focused on making the mall foremost a place for local business owners to grow and be a part of the community.

Local shops

It was during the pandemic that Music City Mall officials started shifting away from a traditional mall.

Many of the businesses started as pop-up locations or kiosks in the mall, and they have now opened storefronts. For many, it is the first chance business owners have to open a brick-and-mortar storefront, the mall’s General Manager Natalie Boyer said.

“We literally have so many people beating our doors down, looking for space, looking for that opportunity, looking for that great thing,” she said. “We’re super aggressive with the price, but we also are a place where we have great weather because we have climate control.”

Music City Mall, previously called Vista Ridge Mall, was purchased by ICA Properties Inc. in 2017 for $17.3 million through an online auction. ICA Properties is an Odessa-based real estate management company.

The mall was purchased outright, which means the company does not have major overhead expenses, Boyer said. Now, Boyer and her team can focus on local businesses.

“We’re focused on helping those small businesses, and because we don’t have this ginormous note hanging over our head, we’re able to act quicker,” Boyer said. “We’re able to make decisions; we’re able to be proactive in the events and all the things that we do at a level you’re not going to get anywhere else.”

The mall, as of July 7, has 24 open lease spaces, according to ICA Properties. However, a number of leases are in the works, and the leases move quickly, Boyer said.

Since January, a number of stores have opened in Music City Mall, including Juss Shoes Purses and Accessories, Mango’s 4 Men Boutique, Anime Yankii, LK Boutique, All Things Corned Beef, Flavors of India, All in One Boutique, iCompete and more.

“There [are] so many traditional malls around us,” Boyer said. “We want it to be something new and different.”

Family-friendly focus

Family is a key focus at the mall, said Rekesha Pittman, who oversees the mall’s events and marketing. Pittman plans events to bring people into the mall and the mall’s amenities, such as the indoor playgrounds and continual music that keeps people there, she said.

“We’re embracing the name that we are Music City Mall and making sure that our music is the type of music that people do want to come up to hear in person,” she said.

The mall has several musicians playing throughout the mall during the day.

“Our musicians are bringing people in, but I think people are even surprised at some talent,” Pittman said.

The mall has a number of events that are family-focused throughout the year, Pittman said.

Holt, who owns The Hair Box and I Feel Pretty Kids Spa and Entertainment, said these events are great for her business as it drives people in her doors from exposure.

“I’m just thankful,” Holt said. “I’m very happy. We don’t plan on going anywhere.”