Shrinking the mall: Inside a developer’s plan to save Plano’s Collin Creek Mall by tearing part of it down

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The developer that hopes to tear down portions of Plano’s ailing Collin Creek Mall and revamp the property with new entertainment, fitness, restaurant and multifamily residential uses could obtain the properties it needs to make it happen by the end of the week.

Managing partner Sam Ware of Dreien Opportunity Partners on Monday said that his company is drawing up the final paperwork with the remaining property owners of Dillard’s, the former Macy’s site and another 50-acre lot. The developer already has the mall’s Sears property under contract with an intent to close on the sale early in the second quarter of the year, Ware said.

“I can’t think of anything other than my death that would prevent [the remaining property sales]from closing this Friday,” Ware said.

The sales would enable the developer to move forward with city of Plano zoning-change requests for an ambitious plan to redevelop the property, shrinking the once-proud mall’s existing structure and replacing much of the parking lot space with a collection of multifamily housing, restaurants, offices and other buildings.

“We envision razing [J.C.] Penney’s, razing Dillard’s, razing Sears and then shrinking the mall and turning it into an indoor-outdoor retail center,” Ware said.

As part of the plan, the mall’s J.C. Penney store would move into the space that Macy’s vacated when it closed its location there last year, Ware said. Smaller retailers would be moved into a more compressed space in the south side of the existing mall, he said.

City officials have in the past brought attention to natural creek that runs through the property underneath parking lot pavement. Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said in his 2017 state of the city address that he could see developers “opening that creek [and]tearing off that concrete.”

But recent plans reviewed by Community Impact Newspaper show the water feature running along the creek’s path would instead be a man-made waterway, similar to the downtown riverwalk in San Antonio.

“When people have water features with entertainment, with restaurants and different types of shops, they expect [a]constant level,” Ware said. “The only way we can physically do that is have a synthetic lake and a synthetic riverwalk.”

Ware said his company assesses the economic conditions are ideal to move forward with the project as soon as possible and has already been in touch with key city of Plano officials and council members regarding the zoning changes he is seeking. Details of the plan are subject to change throughout this process, Ware said.

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Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press in Oklahoma City.
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