Rendering of Casa Linda Plaza

Local News

About Those Trees at Casa Linda Plaza

The owner of the East Dallas shopping center clarifies its redevelopment plans that, as they stand now, include removing five mature cypress elm trees.

Casa Linda Plaza, the shopping center on Garland Road and Buckner Boulevard in East Dallas, is getting a makeover by its owners. Construction for the redo started this week, causing many residents to become aware of and upset by the plans which include the removal of five mature cypress elm trees.

Developer Edens, a private real estate investment trust focused on retail properties, purchased the Casa Linda Plaza in 2015. Managing Director Tom Kiler says Edens is a long-term holder of real estate and holds about $6.5 billion worth of real estate across 120 properties across the U.S.

Edens plans to revitalize Casa Linda Plaza, which spans three of the four hard corners of Buckner and Garland, into a more pedestrian-friendly center that encourages patrons to spend more time there. To do so, Edens is planning (and has already received city approval) to narrow the driving aisles and reconfigure some parking spaces. The center has 508 parking spaces today, and will have 484 spaces following renovations.

Kiler says current driving aisles are 40 feet wide in the entrance on Garland (near Starbucks), causing many drivers to speed through the area as a way to cut through the stoplight at Garland. “It’s 15 feet wider than it should be, which makes it dangerous. We’re trying to get people to slow down because if the parking lot feels dangerous, you don’t want to spend time there,” Kiler says.

By shrinking driving aisles, Edens will add more space for pedestrians along the inner sidewalks, and also give more room the live oak trees lining the sidewalks to growth. Kiler says Edens has also hired Dallas-based Studio Outside Landscape Architects to “help us understand how to make [existing] trees healthier. Currently, the live oaks don’t really have the space to grow the way they’re supposed to.” Edens is also planting 34 new trees on the property and preserving approximately 25 existing trees.

A petition on change.org to “Save our historic Casa Linda Plaza trees from demolition” already has more than 2,500 signatures. Edens says its answering all emails and voicemails from residents who have questions about the renovation plans, and has plans to meet in person with the residents behind the petition. “We will listen to everyone, and I hope people listen to us and allow us to explain what we’re doing,” Kiler says. “How that resolves itself, I’m not 100 percent sure yet.” Plans to remove the trees are not yet scheduled for a specific date.

Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton posted on his Facebook page about the trees on July 9, saying, in part, “There is always the fear when a tree is removed that everything is going to be scraped and the only thing left is concrete. The City has a tree mitigation plan and they are doing more than the City even requires them to do.”

Kiler says Edens, which also owns Preston Royal Village (home to Tom Thumb and the new Eatzi’s) and Uptown Plaza (home to Morton’s The Steakhouse) was initially attracted to Casa Linda Plaza for several reasons.

“We’re big believers in East Dallas,” Kiler says. “We think it’s a place with a different personality than many parts of Dallas. It has great diversity, and a ton of opportunity. The [retail] offerings there don’t currently match where the community is in several ways.”

The first phase of renovation should be completed this fall.

Comments

  • OldLakeHighlander

    I am so glad to see improvements to this site. It is a neglected gem that can be so much more. We appear to be getting away from the old model of driving half way across town to access things we should be able to obtain right here. No one wants to lose trees, but I am hopeful that we can find a good balance between greenery and actually having useful businesses in our neighborhood. Now can we just do something to improve the scenery on Garland from Peavy to Jupiter, please? A park to replace the dead strip mall at Centerville and Garland (with lots of trees!) would be a Godsend.

  • Kyle Reese

    You couldn’t be bothered to drive down there or send a lackey to take a photo of the trees in question? I want to be even more emotionally tied to the existence of those trees than I already am from my hatred of development and love of greenery.

  • PJCTX

    What is this, Austin? 2500 signatures related to a few trees in a shopping center folks don’t use? Sounds about right. Sounds like the developer has a great plan, that includes substantial greenery. Goodness, folks. It’s ok not to complain about everything.

  • Mavdog

    For clarification, EDENS (they like all caps) did not purchase Casa Linda in 2015, they purchased AmREIT, the then owner of Casa Linda (and who also owned the other mentioned centers at Preston/Royal and McKinney Ave).

    A primary drive of 25 feet width is just not sufficient for the vehicles to easily pass by each other IMO. A minimum of 30 feet is more realistic and safer. Also, what is the “reconfigure some parking spaces” plan? Typically that is a euphemism for adding more compact car spaces instead of regular width spaces. Not a positive in the SUV land that is Dallas.

    EDENS track record at Preston Royal Village is to kick out the local mom and pop retailers so they can lease those spaces to national chains. Hopefully the same plan is not what will be done at Casa Linda.

    • manny

      Well said Mavdog. I drive to Casa Linda just to shop at some of those mom and pop stores that I have shopped for many years. Same with Preston Royal until I couldn’t afford it any more. Most of the new shops at Preston Royal are closed within a year anyway.

  • karenw729

    There are several errors and half-truths in this article. The entrance to Starbucks is on Garland, not Buckner. The plan posted in a storefront by the developer stated that it would increase the number of parking spots. The new trees the developer plans on adding will only be small caliper and not provide any of the shade that the mature healthy elms currently do. The parking lot is used as a cut through because the Garland/Bucker intersection is frequently backed up. This new plan will not alleviate that problem in any way and will likely increase the congestion at the intersection. Finally, the developers must not spend much time in Dallas because sitting outside in the hot sun without shade is impossible here for about half the year. The trees can easily remain and the developer still get the improvements they want.