Work aimed at creating updated, higher-end feel
For 17 years, shoppers have entered Grapevine Mills mall and seen flashes of Texas, from life-size cowboys and lassos hanging from the ceiling above the food court to silhouette frames of the city that make up storefronts.
But with a $40 million renovation that General Manager Joe Szymaszek expects will launch in the third quarter of this year, shoppers will begin to see a reinvented look, sans cowboys.
Szymaszek calls it "de-theming," which will eliminate much of the overhead visuals and use lighting and other elements to focus attention on the stores instead.
"When we start, we're really going to blitz the whole center and give the shopper an entirely new experience when they shop here as far as [the mall's] look and feel," he said.
Szymaszek said the re-imagination of the mall hit its stride two to three years ago as mall staff began to seek higher-end tenants. Since 2013 Grapevine Mills mall has brought in Michael Kors, Adidas and Express. In several locations throughout the mall, posters announce coming arrivals such as O'Neill.
To complement these new arrivals, Szymaszek said he is preparing to bring the mall to a whole new level, literally and figuratively. Szymaszek said the major focus of the renovations includes raising storefronts and common areas to the building's roof deck level, featuring a look similar to NorthPark Center.
One of the three sets of the mall's restrooms has already been revamped with ceramic tile and granite countertops, and Szymaszek said 65 percent of the mall's wood floors have been resurfaced.
Current tenants have also undergone changes to keep up with the impending renovations.
Morgan Juniper is the store manager at MasterCuts and said the mall required the salon to update its design. Juniper said the renovations closed the store for 3 1/2 weeks but said she is happy with the changes, especially the glass doors at the front of the salon.
Although Juniper said she likes the Texas-themed decorations of the mall, she also said her salon would benefit from better lighting since the storefront remains in the dark even when she opens the store for the day.
"I would love to see more lighting in front of my salon," she said. "It would really help my store be more visible for clients."
Ariana Arvizu, store manager at Forever 21, said the mall has struggled in keeping up with NorthPark and Galleria Dallas but said she is excited for the renovations that will match the fashion-forward Forever 21.
"[Grapevine Mills] is a bargain mall and there's a lot of mom and pop shops," she said. "But I feel like it's trying to go higher-end."
From start to finish, Szymaszek expects the major renovation process to be complete within one year. Once those renovations have begun, he said work crews will start at the ends and work their way toward the middle common areas. Construction will occur at night so as to allow the mall to remain fully accessible to shoppers throughout the renovations, thus giving shoppers the ability to see the mall undergo its changes.
"When a store is building on, I like the barricade to come down as soon as possible because it's almost like getting a sneak peek behind the curtain," Szymaszek said. "As the shopper visits the center when the renovation is underway, they'll be able to see the evolution of where the center has been and where it's going."
Grapevine Mills mall is not a traditional shopping center, Szymaszek said, but rather a destination center. With 40 percent of the mall's yearly shoppers being travelers, he said he is grateful for Simon Property Group reinvesting in its mall to keep the building fresh and energized.
Szymaszek said the mall will expand its dining options in the food court, and while it may be losing its Wild West dangling decorations, he said the carousel will stay. He is also looking at potential entertainment options that could go along with Merlin Entertainments' Sea Life and Legoland Discovery Center.
"We want to make sure the entertainment complements the shopping, not competes with it," Szymaszek said.