DALLAS — Contemporary sales representatives who show here are weighing yet another proposal to build a fashion mart downtown less than three miles from the Dallas Market Center.
On Friday, developer Brook Partners offered to invest $4 million to $5 million to create a stylish showplace for fashion in a five-story building in the city’s Arts District. But it remains uncertain whether enough reps and manufacturers will sign up to make the new mart a reality.
John Sughrue, chief executive officer of Brook Partners, speaking to about 75 members of the industry at the proposed site, called Southwestern Plaza, said, “We’re here to convince you that your business will not only succeed here, it will be turbo charged. If this group comes into this building, we want this to be a blue-chip center.”
Sughrue, who developed the Magnolia Theatre arts cinema at West Village here, made his pitch in the slick headquarters of the Beck Group construction company on the building’s fifth floor in order to give visitors an idea of what the mart could look like.
After guests saw Beck’s butterfly-shaped drop ceilings and curved, boldly colored walls, Sughrue presented a video virtual tour of the proposed mart in which each showroom front had translucent panels that pivoted open on an axis. The rooms would be arranged in a racetrack pattern on the first two 50,000-square-foot floors of the building. Temporary trade shows could be held in the 30,000-square-foot basement. Beck would handle design and building.
Brook Partners will start work if it receives “executed letters of intent” totaling 50,000 square feet. So far, 30 sales reps have signed nonbinding letters of intent for about 40,000 square feet in the project, according to Federico Mariel, a Dallas rep and a lead proponent.
“We want to create a new identity for the industry in the whole country,” said Mariel. “If we didn’t think we could make this new and innovative, then we would go to the World Trade Center.”
The idea of building a new mart arose in January when the Dallas Market Center Co. announced it planned to close the International Apparel Mart next March and move its 600 tenants to its nearby World Trade Center complex of gift and home showrooms. The first suggested site for a new apparel mart as an alternative to the WTC was shelved because it would not have been ready for occupancy by the time the Apparel Mart closed.Bill Winsor, chairman and chief executive officer of the Dallas Market Center, dismissed the new project.
Winsor said, “Numerous proposals for a competing venue have been issued over the course of the history of the Dallas Market Center.
“We have thousands of lines committed to a one-million-square-foot project that is already under way. Our key advantage is a 40-year history of delivering product to buyers in a facility designed as a wholesale marketplace.”
But several sales representatives, including Suzanne Collier, Larry Traub, Gavin Smith and Julie Hall, continued to search for another venue and contacted Brooks Partners.
Karen Anderson, who reps Teenflo and other lines at her KLA showrooms in Los Angeles and Dallas, signed up for the proposed mart.
“I think it has foresight and innovation,” she said Sunday in her showroom at the Apparel Mart.
But Bernadette Mopera, who also shows contemporary lines in both cities, was worried that the new venture might not draw enough buyers and had signed up for space in the WTC.
Allyson Siler, the local rep for Poleci, signed a nonbinding letter of intent for the downtown site, but noted that Poleci’s owners had not yet made a final decision.
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