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Putting the ‘High’ in Highland Park Village

Fashion sales at the Dallas shopping center average an impressive $1,782 per square foot, but Stephen Summers believes longer hours can hike that figure.

Stella McCartney store in Dallas' Highland Park Village.

DALLAS — Fashion sales at Highland Park Village average an impressive $1,782 per square foot, but managing director and co-owner Stephen Summers believes longer hours and a premium tenant mix can hike that figure.

“We want to take Highland Park Village to the next level,” he said. “We want it to evolve into an international destination.”

The 250,000-square-foot shopping center is located in Highland Park, a wealthy, insulated enclave surrounded by Dallas that’s known locally as “the bubble.” Facing Dallas Country Club, the Village serves as the local shopping habitat, offering Chanel, Scoop NYC and Harry Winston as well as a supermarket, shoe repair and liquor store.

Since Summers, his wife Elisa, and brother- and sister-in-law, Ray and Heather Washburne, bought the open-air Spanish-style complex in 2009, he has been courting premium labels for space formerly occupied by Banana Republic and Harold’s.

“We could have filled it in a day, but we wanted the brands that were right,” he said.

The newest high-end name joining the group is Yves Saint Laurent. Summers said a lease with YSL is being finalized, and that store is expected to open in 2012. Stella McCartney is set to open in September along with Hadleigh’s, a ready-to-wear sibling of the independent custom clothing atelier located directly above.

Billy Reid and Trina Turk bowed this summer, while Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg and Leggiadro opened last year. Pucci and art gallerist Kristy Stubbs are testing the waters with year-long leases. In addition, Anne Fontaine’s success has prompted the retailer to double in size in a new location opening this month.

Reid’s 1,300-square-foot store, which welcomed shoppers a month ago, is half the size of his former store at NorthPark Center but is producing more volume, Reid said.

“Dallas was always one of our top two stores, but we wanted a more intimate, smaller space in an outdoor setting,” he explained. “Half of our Highland Park Village business is new customers.”

New leases mandate evening and Sunday shopping hours, a radical change in a center where boutiques like Jimmy Choo and Carolina Hererra keep banker’s hours. But the Village also houses restaurants that draw traffic in later hours, and Summers has been eying those people — and wishing they could shop.

“We’re up 31 percent this June over June 2010 and 24 percent year-to-date,” Summers claimed. “Those numbers are based on six days worth of sales versus seven going forward. Think about that in terms of where we can take this.”

Hermès, which signed on as the center’s first prestige tenant 24 years ago, had its best year there in 2010, according to Robert Chavez, chief executive officer of Hermès International.

“This year is shaping up to be yet another banner year,” Chavez said. “The center has done great things and it is drawing even more high-quality traffic. We are planning an expansion in HPV in the next couple of years due to our success there.”

Summers transformed the antiquated movie theater with a $5 million renovation and a sleek new restaurant atop the marquee. Another new eatery, a posh bistro with a patio, is due this fall.

Landscaping at the 80-year-old center was also spruced up. The parking lot is dotted with live oak trees, lampposts are draped with flags promoting local teams and charities. On rainy days, black Village logo umbrellas are placed around the center in hopes that people will grab them and carry them off.

“We are trying to bring special and exclusive brands to attract Mexican consumers, Middle Eastern traffic and an international clientele,” Summers said. “Kristy Stubbs Gallery has some fabulous works — Lichtenstein, David Bates, a Picasso. If a Mexican consumer wants to shop and is thinking about Houston, we have the only Stella McCartney in the region, the only Christian Louboutin in Texas. We’re giving them more reason to choose us.”