Feb 16, 2024 - News

Plano's Shops at Willow Bend to get a glow-up

A rendering with buildings and retail spaces on the bottom floor.

Developers want Willow Bend to be packed with people one day. Rendering: Courtesy of city of Plano

Plano's Shops at Willow Bend may one day look a lot more like the posh Shops at Legacy.

Driving the news: The Plano City Council approved a rezoning request that will allow Willow Bend owners to convert the traditional indoor mall into an open-air shopping center.

Why it matters: Willow Bend was built over 20 years ago, when suburban malls were thriving. Its retail-focused format has become outdated.

State of play: Many traditional malls in North Texas are relatively empty on the weekdays, getting most of their visitors on the weekends.

  • "Retailers don't survive well in that environment anymore," Centennial Real Estate CEO and North Texas native Steven Levin said during this week's City Council meeting. "They need seven-days-a-week, 18-hours-a-day destinations."

Context: Centennial acquired Willow Bend in 2022 and has been working on projects to improve the mall with input from current tenants and the broader Plano community.

  • The mall is currently anchored by Dillard's, Macy's and Neiman Marcus.
  • "We bought [the mall] to recreate it, to fix it from what was a 20-year-old mall to a project that will be the most dominant destination for the next 30, 40, 50 years," Levin said.

Details: Willow Bend's partial redevelopment project envisions outdoor dining, a more modern streetscape, high-end retailers and a greenspace for outdoor events like movies and concerts.

  • The redesign will connect to The District at Willow Bend, which already offers upscale dining options and has capacity for more restaurants.
  • There are also plans for an 18-story hotel, office space and residential buildings.

How it will work: Roughly 530,000 square feet of the existing mall will be demolished, and parking areas will be modified.

  • Construction will happen in phases. The first phase may be completed around mid-2027, per Community Impact.

Meanwhile: Construction has lagged at the former site of Plano's Collin Creek Mall, which was demolished over two years ago to make way for a $1 billion redevelopment of the area.

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