The Shops at Willow Bend is getting a $100 million redevelopment.
Starwood Retail Partners acquired the Plano shopping center a year ago from Taubman Centers Inc. and has decided on improvements to make the center more relevant to a growing Plano.
Major additions include a class “A” office tower, hotel and an entertainment district.
The expansion begins in early 2016 with the razing of the 125,000-square-foot former Saks Fifth Avenue. The addition in its place will be the “architectural focal point” of the mall’s new main entrance facing the Dallas North Tollway.
The redevelopment will be in phases with first phase done in 2017 and the total project completed in 2019, Starwood said. The company promises the redevelopment will be highly visible from the tollway with a “vibrant welcoming façade that expresses a sense of arrival for people visiting” the center.
“Plano is experiencing terrific growth, and our vision for Willow Bend is in step with the city’s business, shopping and entertainment plans for the future,” said Scott Wolstein, CEO of Starwood Retail Partners.
The developer tried to take the mall to a high-priced super luxury center to build off of Neiman Marcus, Wolstein said, but the demographics for the area are so much broader.
“The demand for merchandise went beyond the initial Prada, Gucci and Armani level, he said. “Neiman Marcus can serve that customer and it does very well along with Dillard’s, Macy’s, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel and Apple do extremely well.”
Those tenants are all sought after by shopping center landlords and “We’re very happy to have that base of mall. The hard work is done,” Wolstein said
The Shops at Willow Bend opened in 2001, a month before 9-11 and a U.S. recession that followed the terrorist attack. The proximity to Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre, which had opened a year earlier, and other nearby shopping proved to be strong competition for the mall. The mall has 125 stores and is anchored by Neiman Marcus, Dillard’s and Macy’s.
More competition is coming from the $2 billion Legacy West project north of Willow Bend and on the same side of the tollway at Legacy. The project on 250 acres next to J.C. Penney’s headquarters will be home to Toyota Motor and Liberty Mutual Insurance corporate campuses. It includes 280,000 square feet of retail and a 300-room Renaissance Hotel.
Another project just east of Legacy West in The Colony is Nebraska Furniture Mart’s Grandscape. That $1.5 million project is opening in stages with plans for hotels, office and more retail and restaurants.
Another issue that hurt the mall initially, Wolstein said, was that the area between Willow Bend and Stonebriar wasn’t as developed and filled in as it is now. That means the trade area is no longer a one-store market for many retailers and restaurant chains.
“It used to be either or, but now with the growth there are opportunities for retailers to be in both malls and that gives us a stronger roster of tenants to chose from,” Wolstein said.
Willow bend was one of seven shopping centers that Taubman sold in 2014 for $1.4 billion. At the time, Taubman said the shopping centers sold lagged behind the performance of the company’s other properties.
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