I was strolling through The Park one day…

Posted by    |    March 3rd, 2011 at 1:26 pm

You’ve been shopping in Dallas.  You’ve really been shopping in Dallas…considering that shopping is the number one thing to do here.  But, while furiously trying to find just the right top to go with that hip new skirt, did you ever stop to wonder what makes your favorite shopping center your favorite shopping center?

Well, I found mine!  And quite by accident, I might add.

While strolling through The Shops at Park Lane on one of the suddenly rare non-snow days, I had a thought.  “This place is cool.” (more…)

The Votes are In. I’ll drink to that!

Posted by    |    November 3rd, 2010 at 9:44 am

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Election Night Watch Party hosted by the Keep the Dollars in Dallas Campaign (KDID).  If you aren’t familiar with KDID, they are the group that was formed to support the petition and election effort to change the current alcoholic beverage sales laws in the City of Dallas.  And, if you haven’t heard, the voters elected to pass both of the wet/dry propositions on the ballot.

KDID committee members celebrate at an election watch party at Pappadeaux on Oak Lawn

What does drinking have to do with real estate (wow, that’s open to lots of interpretation)?  But the main theme here is that changing the antiquated wet/dry laws in the City of Dallas will help create a level playing field for all developers, brokers, restaurants and retailers in Dallas.  And the local commercial real estate community, having a lot at stake here, got involved with the cause early.

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An Education in Retail

Posted by    |    October 12th, 2010 at 11:48 am

When you hear the word “recession,” do you go “la la la la” and put your fingers in your ears in an attempt to block out the sound?  Yeah, me too.  But some things just can’t be ignored, especially by industries that have been hardest hit.

Take the retail industry, for example.  The last three years have been brutal – to sales, to store openings, to general industry morale.  But never an industry to get down for long, retail is forging ahead bravely and thoughtfully.

I recently had the opportunity to get inside the brains of some of the top retailers in the country and learn how they are facing today’s economy and serving today’s consumers at the annual Retailing Summit hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University.  This year’s theme was “The Evolving Consumer: emerging issues and future outlooks.”

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Lower Rents = More Yarn

Posted by    |    September 17th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

One of the best things about being in the retail real estate business is watching the ever-changing face of the retail landscape.  The past few years have been difficult at best as retailers pull back on expansion plans and shopping centers experience growing vacancy.  Nobody likes to see empty windows in shopping centers.

Growing vacancies typically mean lower lease rates as landlords strive to fill their spaces.

There is an upside to this trend, however.  Now that rates are more affordable, more mom-and-pops can take advantage of retail space they might not have been able to afford in the past.  More independent retailers means more cosumer choice and more unique merchandise.

One of my favorite examples of a new independent retailer opening in Dallas is Holley’s Yarn Shoppe.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a prolific knitter.  Like I tell my friends, “If I’m sittin’, I’m knittin’.”  Sadly, I am addicted to all things yarn.

Dallas knitters and crocheters don’t have very many yarn shops from which to choose.  Typical road trips include The Woolie Ewe in Plano or The Shabby Sheep in downtown Dallas.  But, hallelujah, now we have a yarn shop located right in the middle at which to feed our addiction.

Holley’s is a bright, friendly haven for yarn lovers located at the northeast corner of Inwood Road and Forest Lane.  The shop faces the Tollway – you can’t miss the bright yellow sign.

During my inaugural trip to the store, the ladies on the staff were enthusiastic and encouraged us to just c’mon in and pet the yarn. (more…)

Happy shoppers both north and south

Posted by    |    September 14th, 2010 at 10:18 am

Due to a couple of recent retail developments, I predict some smiling shoppers both north and south of the LBJ loop.

First, Old Navy has just signed a lease for its first new store in the entire United States in over two years.  The site is also Old Navy’s first location ever inside the loop.  The company will open a two-level, 23,326 square foot flagship space at the Shops at Park Lane located at the southeast corner of Park Lane and U.S. 75.

Shops at Park Lane

Second, Urban Outfitters just signed a lease for its first store north of the loop.  The 9,550 square foot lease at The Shops at Legacy is the company’s third store in Dallas/Fort Worth.  The store is scheduled to open in the fall of 2010.

Good news for Dallas, good news for these retailers, and great news for shoppers north and south who have been awaiting these concepts.

Shops at Legacy

Once in real estate, always in real estate?

Posted by    |    September 7th, 2010 at 8:43 am

The weather is cooling, school has started, and business is buzzing again. That can only mean one thing for North Texas’ commercial real estate industry:  the annual NTCAR Expo!

NTCAR (North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors) holds this event each fall to encourage networking, lead generation and communication among the area’s developers, building owners, brokers, contractors, architects, designers, engineers, researchers, financial advisors, economic development groups, real estate media and others.

The largest commercial real estate trade show in the Southwest, the NTCAR Expo boasts 2,000 attendees and more than 100 exhibitors. (more…)

Home on the Dallas Range

Posted by    |    August 25th, 2010 at 11:07 am

Little did I know that when researching the history of retail in Dallas I would come to find oodles of history about all parts of the city.  A couple of the nuggets I found explain the history of some of Dallas’ early residential neighborhoods.

One of the earliest suburbs of Dallas was Oak Cliff, first settled around 1837 by William S. Beaty and the Leonard and Coombes families (www.oakcliff.com/history.htm).  Then along came William and Mary Hord who relocated from Tennessee and opened a boarding house.  Not long thereafter, the area became known as Hord’s Ridge. 

The first known permanent residence in Oak Cliff was a cabin built in 1845 by William Hord.

The area began to slowly expand with the completion of the Cleburne and Rio Grande Railway in 1880.  Oak Cliff was more formally originated in 1886 when  John S. Armstrong and Thomas L. Marsalis shelled out $8,000 to buy a 320-acre farm on the south bank of the Trinity River.  The two began dividing the acreage into 20-acre blocks, and, according to the Handbook of Texas Online, “Armstrong and Marsalis began to develop the land into an elite residential area, which by then end of 1887, had proved to be a tremendous success with sales surpassing $60,000.”

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A woman’s contribution to development

Posted by    |    August 23rd, 2010 at 9:11 am

So, we’ve learned about the men who began some of Dallas’ most historic retail companies.  Although nearly all women of those early times served as homemakers, some even taking in a little money as seamstresses or teachers, one stands out as having had great influence on the development of the city.

In the year 1847, Alex and Sarah Cockrell planted their meager roots in Dallas County.  Alex was an involved and respected businessman having opened a sawmill, a gristmill, a lumberyard and a freighting business. 

In 1852, Alex added to his business portfolio when he purchased  the Trinity River ferry and ferry license from John Neely Bryan.

In the early 1850s, Sarah began to become more involved in her husband’s businesses taking over the books since Alex had never learned to read or write. 

Sarah Horton Cockrell

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Transportation feeds development

Posted by    |    August 16th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

After the Dallas retail boom brought on by the railroad, yet another mode of transportation pushed retail to the suburbs.   Streetcars, which began to spring up in Dallas in the late 1800s, boosted the decentralization of downtown and mobilized consumers around the city.

Before automobiles became commonplace at the homestead, streetcars were the main mode of transportation in urban areas.  In fact, according to Robert A.Rieder in the Handbook of Texas Online, “The electric streetcar represented the most significant development in city transportation.”

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Riding the Retail Railroad

Posted by    |    August 13th, 2010 at 8:23 am

The Jewish immigrants who landed at the Port of Galveston ended up in Dallas at some point.  Are you wondering why they chose to leave the lovely coastal town of Galveston for landlocked Dallas?  It was the railroad.

In the 1870s, Dallas was still a relatively small city with little connection to the outside world.  The city’s growth had stalled with no easy way in for those wishing to relocate. 

However, in 1872, Dallas got just what it needed to finally experience explosive growth.  On July 7 of that year, the last tracks of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad opened for business.  And on July 16, “the first excursion train stopped at a spot located approximately where Pacific Avenue crosses under Central Expressway today.  A crowd made up almost entirely of men celebrated with a barbecue feast of roasted buffalo.”  (Mike McAllister, Hidden History of Dallas).

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