Axios Dallas

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Happy Friday! Discover your own capabilities.

🌬️ Today's weather: Windy, highs in the high 60s.

🎡 Sounds like: "No Shopping"

πŸͺͺ Situational awareness: Migration along the U.S.-Mexico border dropped 42% in January, compared to December 2023.

πŸ“ͺ Programming note: We're off Monday for Presidents Day, but look out for a special edition newsletter that morning from some of our Axios colleagues.

  • We will be back on Tuesday with our usual mix of local news.

Today's newsletter is 926 renovated words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Plano's Willow Bend mall to get a glow-up

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 Its retail-focused format has become outdated.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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2. πŸ“Ί Dr. Phil’s new TV network in Roanoke

Dr. Phil is back in the TV business. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Phil McGraw, the daytime talk show host known as Dr. Phil, recently launched a new television network based in Roanoke.

Why it matters: North Texas has been a smaller, between-the-coasts hub for television programming for decades.

  • Political commentator Glenn Beck launched his own network, The Blaze, in Las Colinas about 10 years ago.
  • Former Republican senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum launched a Christian film studio in Flower Mound around the same time.

Between the lines: McGraw has a history in North Texas. He received his doctorate from UNT. His 1979 dissertation focused on rheumatoid arthritis.

The big picture: McGraw's new 5-acre headquarters includes a small museum dedicated to … himself. It includes signs, posters and other memorabilia from his 26-year career in television, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Details: The new network will feature "Dr. Phil Primetime," news programming and true crime shows, including a new block of content hosted by contentious crime commentator β€” and former "Dancing With the Stars" contestant β€” Nancy Grace.

  • Merit Street will air on AT&T U-verse, Frontier and Spectrum starting Feb. 26.

Of note: If you'd like to see McGraw do his thing in person, you can sign up to be in the audience here.

  • He tapes two episodes a day, three days a week. Each session lasts from around 8am to 2pm, according to his website.

Meanwhile: Episodes of McGraw's old daytime show will continue to air in syndication.

What we're watching: Will the people who control the TVs in doctor's office waiting rooms and mechanic shop lobbies be able to find Dr. Phil's new programming?

Worthy of your time: Check out this 2021 BuzzFeed story about the ways McGraw exploits his most vulnerable guests.

3. πŸ€ Charted: Luka's MVP odds

Odds of winning NBA MVP
Data: BetMGM; Chart: Axios Visuals

Luka DončiΔ‡ is the fourth most likely NBA player to win the league's MVP award this season, according to the odds wizards in Las Vegas.

Why it matters: DončiΔ‡ is the heart and soul of the Mavs right now β€” and he's a virtual highlight-making machine.

Why he should win: His 73-point game last month is a new franchise record and the fourth-most anyone has ever scored in an NBA game.

The other side: The Mavs haven't been great this season, despite the presence of two absolute superstars. The team's 32–23 record has them in seventh place in the Western Conference, close to the playoff bubble.

  • The MVP candidates with better odds all have their teams closer to the top of the standings.

What's next: Watch DončiΔ‡ β€” and all of the other top MVP contenders β€” in the NBA All-Star Game this Sunday.

4. πŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

This bull's eyes don't lie. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 A coyote suspected of biting three children at an Arlington park will be euthanized. (WFAA)

🎭 A Dallas family says the mask that Jason Kelce wore at the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl afterparties belongs to their son. (NBC5)

πŸš’ No. 41 Dirk Nowitzki helped Dallas officials reopen Fire Station 41, which was destroyed by a tornado in 2019. (FOX4)

5. 🍻 One cocktail to go: ODD Muse

Perfect flights go light to dark. Photo: Tasha "News Muse" Tsiaperas/Axios

Try an array of beers, peep local art and play board games at this Farmers Branch brewery in an unassuming building.

  • The capitalization of "odd" is in honor of the owner's daughters' initials.

What to order: Flight of the rotating options.

Where: ODD Muse, 4488 Spring Valley Rd. in Farmers Branch.

Cost: Varies depending on which beers you pick β€” and how many.

Pro tip: The 500 Pesos Mexican lager is especially drinkable.

Six-word review: Intriguing flavors, excellent IPAs, perfect pours.

πŸ“­ Know a brewery we should try? Hit reply and tell us.

This newsletter was edited by Bob Gee and copy edited by Nicole Ortiz.

Our picks:

πŸ‘Ž Mike is watching this excellent video that explains everything wrong with Dr. Phil.

πŸ‘©β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘¨ Tasha is obsessed with "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."

🚘 Naheed is looking for food and activity recs for a day in Waxahachie.

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