Valley View Mall has been ruins for years. April marked the 10th anniversary of Beck Ventures purchasing the property. Next June will mark a decade since what was known as the “Midtown” project went before the City Council. Last week, one of the three largest landowners there put its acreage for sale, raising even more questions about the future of the asphalt that once held the old mall.
“It’s going to reshape that whole area of Dallas,” former State Rep. (and former Dallas City Councilwoman) Linda Koop said in 2015. “The entire area there kind of stayed stagnant for a while. There were multiple challenges. The neighbors identified that area as one that they would like to see revitalized.”
The partially dismantled and deteriorating bulk overlooks Montfort Drive, Preston Road, and Interstate 635, where the only activity in years was an old AMC theater and a COVID-19 drive-thru testing tent. The Valley View site is a monument to what happens when the city and a developer can’t reach an agreement. Different parts of the property are owned by three different developers: Beck Ventures, Seritage Growth Properties, and LTF Real Estate. Seritage has now listed its almost 17 acres for sale, which is why the whole matter is back in the news.
What does this mean for the rest of the area? It’s not clear. Beck Ventures CEO Scott Beck said he was not available to talk until Friday. But there is progress further south, near the Galleria. The city last year began referring to these areas as the Dallas International District, walking back Beck’s preferred brand of “Midtown.”
Plans still include a 20-acre park. The city purchased the Prism building at 5580 Peterson Lane in April 2021 to anchor the park as a cultural center. It will also be home to a District 11 City Council office. A Complete Street project will reduce Montfort Drive from six to four lanes, with wider sidewalks and new bike lanes. That job is anticipated to wrap by the end of the year. Three new multi-family apartment projects are complete, as is a 256-room hotel. A luxury apartment property is going up nearby on Noel Road.
Progress is being made, but not where Valley View was.
In 2020, Beck said that the company’s partnerships with Life Time Inc. and Toll Brothers would create a great deal of housing density that would incorporate various price points. Seritage’s project with KDF would have created another 300 units, plus retail and dining space.
“The old Valley View Mall site is over 100 acres … that’s the size of Uptown,” Beck said in an interview two years ago. “So what’s incumbent upon us is to make sure that we actually create a neighborhood, and in order to create any of that, obviously we need residential.”
Some stakeholders believe the holdup is about who is responsible for the infrastructure beneath that development. One side feels that the task is up to the city, and the other feels it’s up to the developers.
“You’ve got one or two really bad property owners there that are acting like it’s all about them. They’re just bad actors,” former Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman said in an exit interview last year. “But that northeast corner is just a wasteland. And that property owner owns the half-torn down mall and won’t complete the demolition of the mall, and just wants to blame their incompetence on everybody else.”
Kleinman, who represented the area where Valley View sits until he was term-limited from Council in 2021, said the city already spent “tens of millions of dollars” upgrading the nearby sewer lines and bringing them underneath I-635 and Lincoln Center, down Inwood Road, and past Jesuit Preparatory School. Beck, Kleinman said, could “spend a million or a million and a half and put in his sewer lines like every other development in this city does.”
Therein lies the impasse.
When the mall’s demolition didn’t meet the deadline, the city rescinded the $36 million in tax incentives it had offered. Beck blamed those delays on zoning issues that needed negotiating. Those with knowledge of the project (as well as a look at archived meetings) suggest the issue is also the confluence of a number of challenges: A developer who was inexperienced in a project of this magnitude, compounded by the difficulties of navigating the process of pushing a complex project through City Hall.
There’s no telling when Valley View will see progress. How long will nearby residents be patient? It was a major campaign discussion point in the most recent District 11 City Council race, so the answer may be, “Not much longer.”
But in the meantime, a portion of the Valley View stretch in the Dallas International District has yet another new name. Commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle has renamed Seritage’s nearly 17-acre chunk of the Valley View site as Vista Commons and says it’s “shovel ready.”