Legacy West, a 415,000-square-foot mixed use center in Plano, Tex. opening June 2, is an example of the new breed of shopping center, with its compact design, heavy emphasis on e-commerce brands, concept stores from established retailers, strong food lineup, and office, residential and a hotel on the property to ensure a captive audience.
While other mall projects have been scrapped or stalled as the retail industry adjusts to store closures and decreasing foot traffic, Legacy West has defied that script. “Dallas is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.,” said its developer Fehmi Karahan. “It’s a tax-friendly environment, so our economy is booming. Plano is the fastest-growing city north of Dallas.”
West Elm has opened. Johnny Was, Coach, Bonobos and Fabletics are opening this month. Tesla, Warby Parker, Tumi, Filson, Frontgate, Peter Millar and Suit Supply are bowing in early summer. Tommy Bahama’s Island store and restaurant, Levi’s, MAC Cosmetics, J. Crew, Madewell and Sephora are expected to bow in October. There will also be a 9,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble concept store serving wine and beer. Several stores have been set aside for luxury retailers and jewelry brands that are seen opening in spring 2018.
“We’re hoping for big numbers,” Karahan said. Projected sales of $1,000 per square foot have been forecasted. “There’s a lot of things happening here.”
Legacy West is rising from the ashes of a 240-acre former J.C. Penney site. Karahan, who built an earlier mixed-use development, The Shops at Legacy, across the highway, said he watched Dallas’ population migrate north for several years and kept a close eye on the Penney’s property. The retailer showed no interest in selling, that is, until its fortunes turned in 2014. After Penney’s opened up the bidding for the site, Karahan teamed with developer Robert Shaw and office specialist KDC, to win the property.
“Macy’s, Sears and J.C. Penney are struggling,” Karahan said. “Neiman Marcus is struggling with huge debt. It’s tough out there. Certainly, if Neiman’s were to choose our location, we’d consider it. But now, the idea is not to have a big department store anchoring a mall. Our restaurants and food hall are our anchors. An anchor is whatever generates the most traffic.
“A lot of retailers came to North Texas and opened stores at North Park, which is one of the most successful malls in Texas. But, some of them have begun looking further north,” Karahan added. “As a retail developer, I pay a lot of attention to who is going to survive the online onslaught. You have to create a great destination and blend a lot of uses. People shop online, but they also want to go out to eat.”
Food accounts for 28 percent of Legacy West’s gross leasable space. A a 55,000-square-foot, three-level food hall will open at Legacy Hall in October, operated by Dallas-based Front Burner Restaurant Group, which is recruiting chefs for individual stalls. The center will boast the first Dean & Deluca in the state, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, True Food Kitchen, Shake Shack, Mesero and Earls Kitchen & Bar.
“We’ll have 10,000 to 12,000 people daily having lunch here,” said Karahan, adding that Toyota North America, Liberty Mutual, FedEx Office and J.P. Morgan Chase have opened corporate headquarters in close proximity to Legacy West, that together will bring more than 20,000 new employees and an additional $3 billion in annual payroll to the area.
According to Karahan the trading area’s demographics include a population of 266,000, with 66,000 earning more than $100,000 annually; 115,000 residents who hold white-collar jobs, and 110,000 with college or advanced degrees.
“Dallas doesn’t have natural beauty. We’re giving people an environment with fountains, landscaping, music, delicious food and buildings that look like Fifth Avenue where every store is different,” Karahan said. “We’re tempting all of their senses.”