By  on May 13, 2009

DALLAS — A deal is in place to sell the open-air luxury Highland Park Village shopping center here to a real estate executive.

A source close to the transaction put the sale price at about $175 million.

If the agreement is successfully concluded, control of the shopping center would pass from the Henry S. Miller family, which has owned it since 1976, to Ray Washburne, chief executive officer of Charter Holdings, a Dallas real estate company. Washburne, who also has interests in restaurants, is married to Hunt oil heiress Heather Hill Washburne, a great-granddaughter of legendary oilman H.L. Hunt.

Jackie Stewart, president of Henry S. Miller Interests, owner of the center with her three siblings and a minority investor, declined to discuss the purchase. Stewart’s father, Henry S. Miller Jr., now 94, bought the shopping center for $5 million.

Washburne did not respond to requests for comment. His company, Charter Holdings, owns commercial properties in Colorado Springs and Dallas.

Henry S. Miller 3rd, who managed the center for years, said it remains a prime property despite the economic downturn.

Opened in 1931 and located next to the Dallas Country Club, Highland Park Village is considered to be the second-oldest U.S. shopping center and has been designated as a national historic landmark. It comprises 200,000 square feet of retail space with 46,200 square feet of offices.

Highland Park Village’s quirky mix places Hermès and Harry Winston steps from a Tom Thumb supermarket. Tenants of the Mediterranean-style venue also include retailers such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera and Chanel. However, there are vacancies after the closing of Luca Luca and the liquidation of Harold’s.

“Highland Park is an irreplaceable retail institution, and I think Ray and the Hunt family will do a wonderful job with it,” said Alan Shor, president of the Retail Connection, a Dallas-based consultancy. “It’s one of those pieces of property you will pay a big price for.”

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