Henry S. Miller . Interests The. manages the Highland Park Village property, and for Henry S. Miller Jr.. the interest is more than merely financial. “My father knew the men who created Highland Park, and I’ve lived here most of my life.” he says. “My son. Henry III, also lives here and manages this business. We are grateful for the privilege to be custodians of such a property.”
It Began At The Begining. In 1906. John S. Armstrong acquired 1,326 acres of land along the old caille trail now known as Preston Road, with the intention of creating the first totally planned city in Texas. Beverly Hills designer Wilburn David Cook drew up plans for Highland Park, and development started in 1907. continuing after Armstrong’s death in 1908 under the guidance of his sons-in-law. Hugh Prather. Senior and Edgar Flippen. as the Flippen-Prather Realty Firm. (Henry S. Miller, Sr. worked for him in 1918.) With the opening of Highland Park West in 1924. they decided their burgeoning community needed more convenient shopping, which they conceptualized ideally as a town square format. With the same intensity and minute attention to detail that made Highland Park such an instant and enduring success, they visited California. New Mexico and Spain, finally deciding on a Moorish-Mediterranean architectural motif for their newest venture.
Despite 1929’s stock market collapse and dire predictions from prominent local merchants that downtown was the only place for shopping. Prather and Flippen pursued their dream. Enlisting noted architect James Cheek, they began the formal process of creating what the Urban Land Institute now officially calls “the prototype for today’s planned shopping center.” Cheek designed the center so that stores faced inward, rather than onto existing streets, and erected nine-foot walls of stucco to shield neighbors from loading zones and unsightly truck delivery access. Uncut by public streets, with individual stores unified under one image, built and managed as a unit under single ownership and control. Highland Park Village opened in 1931 to immediate public acceptance. The Hunt Grocery Store, a gourmet store, and an antique shop made up the entire tenant list, and Highland Park residents began an enduring love affair with their little “Village.”
1935 saw construction begin on the Highland Park Village Theatre. With a sealing capacity of 1.350 and parking for 500 cars, the facility bore the distinction of being the first luxury suburban movie theater in Texas. Tired of traipsing downtown to see a first-run movie, neighborhood audiences flocked to the theater, reveling in the distinctive art deco lobby furnishings and fish-bowl style wall murals. The Village Theatre quickly became the crown jewel of Karl Hoblitzelle’s Interstate movie theater chain.
Under the care of Flippen-Prather, construction continued steadily for the next twenty years on the 10-acre development, yielding nearly 180,000 square feel of retail space and open air parking for 700 customer vehicles. And while the Village’s reputation for top-quality retailing grew, management never lost sight of the shopping center’s main purpose: providing the community with essentials like grocery and pharmacy goods. along with exquisite and exclusive merchandise.
The of Change During the 1960s and 70s, the winds of cultural change came to America, and Highland Park Village found itself a victim of stormy economic forces. Sold to a local bank, the property entered into a period of gradual decline, with bean-counter mentalities replacing imaginative marketing style and savvy. But in 1976, Henry S. Miller Jr., put together an investment group, purchased the property, and began the long-term management and investment strategy that brought the magic back to the Village. The first step: complete physical renovation. The warm glow of old fashioned street lamps replaced the harsh glare of outdoor fluorescent lighting, and the tangled web of utility wires went underground. Trees and shrubs were brought in to create a relaxed feel. Nonconforming materials came down from the walls and the original Moorish stucco was repaired and refreshened. Concrete parking islands and median strips were bulldozed, and new pavement patterns increased parking capacity from 700 to 1,100 spaces and an additional 250 space underground parking garage. An employee parking lot just north of the center freed up even more customer parking.
Massive changes also came to a revered landmark. “AMC leased the movie theater in 1987, and we initiated a full scale rebuilding,” says Henry S. Miller III. the third Miller generation to live in Highland Park. Tour theaters were installed upstairs, with state-of-the-art projection equipment, and additional retail space was created below. Economically speaking, from a revenue standpoint multiple retailers would bring in more income than a movie theater. But we felt strongly that such an historic landmark needed to he preserved and protected for the community. Now. the AMC Village Theatre has one of the highest per seat grosses of any first-run theater in the country.”
“The really hard part was addressing the tenant mix, since many tenants had long-term leases at very low rates,” he admits. “But we knew that to be economically viable, we’d have to restore the luxurious ambiance that the Village had been known for.” Henry’s father admits it look “a bit of selling at first” to persuade potential high profile tenants that the open-air Village presented a belter retail opportunity than a climate-controlled mall. But by successfully conveying the trademark long-term vision that’s become a Miller hallmark, new tenants gradually brought the Village to its current mix of exclusive and everyday shopping, and the center now boasts nearly 80 tenants in over 250,000 square feet of space. “Little by little, we’ve made both tenant mix changes and capital improvements over the years, and although the business is still highly dynamic. But every lime we get close to our goals, we see other improvements we can make. So. we will never be satisfied completely.” Henry III adds, grinning the same confident, affable grin as his father.
World-Class countries in a Little Village. Walk around Highland Park Village, and you quickly become aware that the casual, friendly atmosphere is not a studied, preprogrammed collection of mannerisms, but a genuine outgrowth of your surroundings. Bearing packages adorned with elegant store monograms, shoppers smile at passersby. Children skip and play along the flower-strewn walkways, ice cream cones in hand. Elderly couples lake their daily constitutional and window-shop, as the outdoor fountain gurgles serenely. Diners enjoy hearty Italian fare amid the al fresco ambiance of Patrizio; others lake a break at Starbucks for a quiet cup of espresso or latte.
Chanel Open the thick glass doors, stroll into the crystal facade of Chanel, and enter a world of timeless elegance and taste. Thick ivory carpeting cushions your feet while you browse impeccably displayed designer clothing, pret-a-porter. accessories, make-up. and of course, perfumes. One of only fourteen freestanding boutiques in the U.S.. the Highland Park Village Chanel is unique, says Assistant Manager Gina Hughes, because people today require more from their merchants.
“Each director buys for their own store.” she explains, “so when we acquire merchandise, we do so with our own particular climate, season and clientele in mind. Also, people want the total experience, and I think we offer that, from cosmetics all the way up to the most expensive evening wear; the Chanel black suit is classic, of course, but we have other fun and casual things, too.” Hughes adds that the Village is a “wonderful place to be. because you get a special feeling when you shop here. Just as Chanel is proud of its tremendous history, the Village is proud of its history as America’s oldest shopping center. It’s the most exclusive area in Dallas, and that’s another reason our boutique is here, because we’re exclusive as well.”
John Haynsworth Photography A doorstep away is John Haynsworth Photography, offering distinctive, interactive custom family portrait photography. “We like the casual, almost ’fashion-shoot’ approach of burning lots of film while our subjects are moving and doing things,” says the Palm Beach. Florida, native. “It gives us more action, and avoids that ’stuffed in a wax museum’ look, which I can’t stand.” For twelve years. Haynsworth worked as a fashion photographer for a number of magazines, including Town and Country and Look, before deciding to open his own studio in 1979 at the Village. “I chose this location because of the quaint, friendly atmosphere and the little personal touches.” he says. “With the shops and merchandise, it’s like Rodeo Drive, but a lot more charming.” His work emphasizes action and whimsy: check out the display shots in his studio, especially the two adorable towheaded tykes posing during springtime on the business end of a Porsche 911.
Episode Just across from Haynsworth’s store is Episode. famous for clean, crisp women’s clothing, and for Heather Locklear’s “Melrose Place” wardrobe. The store featuring three distinct lines of women’s clothing collections; Episode, a sophisticated bridge line of modern fashions: Excursion, a sporty line of casual wear; and Episode Studio, a predominately knitwear tine using texture, color and patterns as key elements. “Episode has 24 stores nationwide, all in upscale locations.” says manager Jennifer Wilpitz. “But we love the Village; it’s the best location of all.”
“I love Highland Park because it’s like Mayberry with money.” laughs supertrainer Larry North good-naturedly. North would he famous for his galaxy-class gym alone, but add to that his fame as an author. radio talk show host and perennial fitness consultant to the stars, and you’ve got a genuine Highland Park legend. “We’ve just added the complete Icarian line of weight resistance workout machines and Reebok SkyWalkers.” says Chris Gallagher, North’s partner and senior Vice president of Larry North Total Fitness. “We also have Hammer Strength machines, a full aerobics and cardiovascular room, and we’re adding the Pilates conditioning regimen.” A membership-only gym. Larry North Total Fitness offers a personalized, results-oriented program of diet and exercise for all age groups. Emphasis is given to the personal trainer approach because, according to Gallagher. “We’re a lifestyle facility, not a high-volume social club. This is where you come to get fit. and we’re here to help you do just that.”
After your workout, what would be better than a big. crusty pizza, a glass of hearty red wine and an outdoor table on a garden terrace? Patrizio, offering casual southern Italian pizzas, pastas and atmosphere, also has plenty of indoor seating for those sultry Dallas afternoons, complete with one of the coziest bars in town. Named by The Dallas Morning News as “One of the Ten Best New Restaurants in Town” when it opened in 1989. Patrizio continues to attract diners with its lusciously authentic Italian bruschetta. ravioli, penne and other Tuscan treats. On the lighter side, imaginative pasta salads and old-fashioned soups deliver the goods without the calories. 18th century European art, dark wooden furniture, oriental rugs and tile floors complete the picture, giving Patrizio an inviting, accessible “trattoria” feel.
Patrizio is one of two Jack Knox-owned and operated establishments; Cafe Pacific, across the street, is a fifteen-year veteran of Highland Park Village, serving fresh seafood and nouvelle cuisine in an elegant, white linen, cut crystal European-styled bistro atmosphere. For more than 15 years, Cafe Pacific’s marbled-floor ambiance, impeccable service and culinary artistry have delighted discerning customers, earning kudos as “Best Seafood” restaurant from the nationally renowned Zagat Survey. D Magazine and the prestigious DiRoNA award (one of only 75 restaurants nationwide to be named). Luring new and regular customers with creative dishes like “Short Smoked Salmon on seared sesame spinach with Pommery mustard,” and “Seared Scallops on grilled parmesan polenta with wild mushroom sauce.” Cafe Pacific deserves the oft-maligned title of a Dallas “institution.”
Hermés Walk off your meal with a leisurely tour of world-famous Hermés, established in 1837 as a Parisian manufacturer of horse harnesses and saddles for the French elite. The modern Hermés look shape aller the end of World War I, as the line of “saddle-stitched” luggage and other fine leather travel articles spurred furious market demand. On its way to becoming an international business, Hermés has shown it can wed industrial know-how and traditional craftsmanship, while maintaining its family atmosphere and creative spirit. Now. the internationally acclaimed retailer offers fourteen product “families.” manufactured by more than 30 different craftsmen’s trades, including leather goods, scarves, ties, men and women’s fashions, fragrances, watches, stationery, footwear, gloves, enamel, jewelry, art de la table, porcelain, crystal, flatware, art de vivre and decorative accessories for the home.
Coolers Village Camera Saddle up for a ride down the street to Coolers Village Camera: shoppers from all over Dallas have been in love with their complete line of photography equipment. custom photo finishing and down-home, folksy expertise for nearly 51 years. A franchised dealer for 13 international manufacturers, including Leica. Nikon. Bushell and others. Coolers has been the first stop for many aspiring photographers and a trusted ally for vacation, graduation, wedding and special event pictures. Brothers Kirk and Chriss Cooler give advice, suggestions and an occasional bad joke, along with surprisingly competitive prices.
Lilly Dodson’s Escada For those with a shoe fetish, check out Lilly Dodson’s Escada: with its well-hidden, immense roll-out racks holding 800 pairs of shoes. Escada might even stun Imelda Marcos, but the fun doesn’t end there: the sleekly luxurious 5,000 square foot boutique also features seven dressing rooms complete with phone, desk, chairs, and a three-way lighting system simulating office, evening and day light, all for the upscale woman on the go. Bill Dodson. owner of Lilly Dodson’s Escada. says that he aims to provide an exceptionally elegant setting to showcase the high-end Escada design collections of clothes, shoes and fragrances by Margaretha Ley.
just reopened the doors to its 1,870 square fool facility after a complete renovation to better showcase their collection of high fashion women’s wear, accessories, shoes and handbags, and private jewelry collection. Internationally recognized for highly durable, comfortable classic coulure knit clothing (as well as signature-style buttons and embellishments), the 30 year-old retail chain caters equally to working women, mothers and grandmothers with fashions ranging from shorts to elegant evening wear to faux fur. Renee Brady manages St. John Knits, one of fourteen stores nationally, and says, to her the Village is the perfect spot. “It’s prestigious, and that’s our customer right there.” she says,
Chequers With all the clothing available, don’t forget that the house may need a Oil of dressing up also. Stop by Chequers, where manager Charles Gregory and associate Bradley Hilton well assist your perusal of fine imported Italian bronze statuary, St. Louis crystal. Bellora bedlinens. anything and everything from Gianni Versace and Ann Gish, along with other lines of exquisite and whimsical home decorations. “Our notion was to have an imaginative specially item store that wasn’t stuffy, a place where people could enjoy themselves.” says Gregory. Cheouers also has an Aspen location, with more stores in the works. If you like, they’ll even come to your chalet and offer decorating tips and suggestions.
Robega As the only wholesaler to maintain an office and showroom in the Village. Robega. Inc. imports quality home furnishings, decorative accessories and fine art from Mexico. Owned by the Caraveo-Vallina family of Chihuahua, Mexico. Robega is an all-woman enterprise, U.S. Representatives Lisa Sandoval and Valerie Webb are excited about plans to include unique merchandise from all countries participating in NAFTA. They agree the Village is the perfect spot for Robega because. “Our mission is to provide the U.S. retail marketplace with special merchandise we have obtained through exclusive agreements with select manufacturers and artists. Everybody in the world knows about Highland Park Village. Here, we can be special-more than just a number on the door in a wholesale environment.”
Frances Johnson Wright Amidst all the world-class shopping and dining, the one thing you might want is a law office, and the beautiful attorney Frances Johnson Wright fits right in: her home is three blocks from the office, the grocery store, dry cleaners, movie theater, gym. and stores which provide convenience, as well as the rare chance to wind down from the courthouse. Handling business issues as well as lawyer-to-lawyer disputes. Wright also sits on the SMU Dedman College Board and relishes life with her ten-year-old daughter. She recently opened another office in Piano with Homer B. Reynolds. Ill who also serves on the SMU Board. Both Trial Lawyers find Highland Park at the center of business and legal issues and the huh of a vibrant metroplex.
Back To The Future As part of the process of quality control. Henry S. Miller Interests regularly commissions surveys to assess how the Village fares in serving customers. Results in 1989 showed demand for a mix of high-end and popular merchandise; the Millers’ responded by bringing aboard Banana Republic, the Gap. Mail Boxes. Etc. and others. Highland Park Village offers many special events that have become traditions. During the Christmas season, merchants gather for the tree lighting ceremony, and kids of all ages queue up for horse-drawn carriage rides through the Highland Park evening. During spring, a gaily colored Easter Egg hunt and festival brings families together.
“If I may be a bit immodest.” says Henry S. Miller III. “there’s nothing else like the Village, and many of our colleagues across the country’ are perplexed at what’s transpired here. We followed our instincts and listened to our customers. And everything that I’ve learned about this business has been from just doing what we do. as well as by osmosis from my dad.” he adds, nodding at his father. Henry S. Miller. Jr, Then, carefully choosing his words, he adds. “I must say. though, I’m very proud of the fact that, together, we’ve been able to build such a high degree of cooperation among our merchants. We have regular meetings to discuss the business challenges we face, and everybody works so well together and pulls in the same direction, it’s just a real pleasure to see.” The pleasure’s all ours. Henry.