November 5, 2010
November 5, 2010
Sometime in the next week, road crews will start building streets for the last phase of
In 2000, when the
"We have about 16 acres left," said Neal Sleeper, president of Cityplace Co. "We started with 130 acres 20 years ago."
Today, the project includes more than 1,700 homes and almost 400,000 square feet of retail space.
But the area was mostly vacant lots at the end of 1990, when a group of investors bought the property northeast of downtown
Previous plans to turn the district along North Central Expressway into a "city within a city" had stalled because of a regional recession and a change of ownership at Southland Corp., which owned the land.
"We started all over with a new master plan," Sleeper said.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Southland, the company that owned 7-Eleven, embarked on a plan to build more than 60 office towers, residential high-rises, hotels and retail space in the area between Haskell and Lemmon avenues.
"The original plan was for 18 million square feet of space," said John Crawford, who was on the original Cityplace project team and is CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. "When things fell apart, that became impossible.
"What it has become is a scaled-down version of the original plan that makes more sense for the changing times," he said. "It's been eminently successful."
That success was born out of the old project's demise.
After pouring more than $300 million into buying land and building the first 42-story skyscraper, Southland announced in 1987 that it wouldn't put any more money into the big project.
Three years later, investors including
"All of our same original partners are in the deal," Sleeper said.
Southland had planned to build blocks and blocks of 10- to 30-story towers. The new owners began studying the surrounding neighborhoods.
"We tried to figure out what was really needed in the area," Sleeper said. "The two things high on everybody's agenda were retail and trying to get housing back into the inner city."
"Everyone told us it would never work,"
Miller credits Cityplace's owners with keeping development standards high and sticking to their long-range plans.
"They have been careful about the development there," he said. "They've had lots of opportunities to do stuff that ultimately wouldn't have been good for the area, and they passed on it.
"We appreciate their ownership because they have had the patience and finances to hold that property as long as they have."
The last phase of the Cityplace project will continue the mixed-use plan that has worked so well.
Inland American Communities is finishing its designs for a retail and apartment complex on the site of the old Loews Cityplace movie theater on
"We are working on the plans right now and hope to break ground in the first quarter," Inland's John Allums said.
'Icing on cake'
The vacant land along the west side of North Central, including property that previously housed the
"We are planning on the last 16 acres being the icing on the cake," he said. "This project has definitely been done in fits and starts.
"We had periods where things were going fast and then nothing was being done for a while," Sleeper said. "We were always confident we could make it work."