Grandscape hits Dallas-Fort Worth

January 10, 2020
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The $1.5 billion project in The Colony will start to open in March next to Nebraska Furniture Mart, with a new design that’s different from existing entertainment districts in the market.

Being last is sometimes a sweet spot.

That’s what Jeff Lind, president of Grandscape, a $1.5 billion development along State Highway 121 in The Colony, is hoping.

Other multibillion-dollar developments — one after another, shiny and bright from Legacy West in Plano to The Star in Frisco — entice residents to come out and meet friends and family in new entertainment and shopping environments.

At the same time, the malls in the neighborhood — Stonebriar Centre in Frisco and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano — have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to add a wing of restaurants, multiple kid venues, a luxury gym and a high-rise hotel.

Now there’s one more new destination for eating, drinking, playing and shopping coming to the growing neighborhoods fanning east and west of the Dallas North Tollway.

“We’re trying to be very different," said Lind, who is leading Grandscape, a project next to Nebraska Furniture Mart that’s part of Warren Buffett’s expansive Berkshire Hathaway. "We wanted to create a space that’s different from other lifestyle centers in the area and to give people reasons to keep coming back.”

Grandscape, which will start to open in March and April, is not like any development in the Dallas area. Almost all the restaurants and stores, big and small, are new to the market.

“I really think this is going to be the first destination up north that will get people from down in Dallas to visit,” said Dan Bradley, who owns T-shirt and gift shop Bullzerk. He’s an exception at Grandscape as a familiar retailer, with six stores in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The D-FW retail real estate market is still considered overbuilt, but there’s been less new construction in recent years, and occupancy rates have been rising.

Grandscape is being built for “future growth in the region,” Lind said.

Instead of turning leasing over to another company, Lind and marketing director Katie Wedekind, both Nebraska Furniture Mart veterans, became the leasing agents. Lind alone clocked 288,000 air miles last year traveling the world to discover new tenants and ways to make Grandscape unique.

Here’s what they came up with.

Multiple levels, 433 acres

Grandscape, which has been in the works since Nebraska Furniture Mart opened in 2015, will operate on multiple levels with lush landscaping, water venues, digital features and lots of places to sit in a pedestrian-friendly layout.

The entire property is 433 acres. NFM, which the furniture store is now calling itself, has attracted restaurants and hotels on its west side. That area takes up about 100 acres.

The Grandscape shopping center, just east of NFM, is on 125 more acres, including a 7-acre man-made lake with restaurants bordering it.

It’s anchored by three additional big-box tenants that are not as big as NFM but almost:

  • Andretti’s Indoor Karting & Games is 110,300 square feet and has three indoor tracks, bowling lanes, an arcade, restaurants and bars on two levels.
  • Scheels, at 331,000 square feet, is a supersized sporting goods store with a 65-foot Ferris wheel inside with 16 cars on it.
  • The 85,000-square-foot Galaxy Theatres 15-screen venue that will open this spring is like only one other that Sony has built, in Las Vegas.

While the giant NFM furniture store, at 560,000 square feet, is hard to miss, Grandscape has been designed to disguise its big boxes and “foster more interesting walks across the shopping center,” Lind said.

To prevent boring long stretches across the front of Andretti’s, Scheels and the Galaxy theater, smaller spaces were built on either side of their entrances for shops and restaurants.

“No one wants to walk across the front of a 300-foot building,” Lind said.

‘Something for everybody’

The development has six courtyards.

One of them, the Homestead, is a new idea for shopping centers. It’s a rustic collection of small buildings nestled, not lined up, next to an outdoor wine bar with a large fireplace. The dozen businesses occupy spaces as small as 250 square feet.

On paper, the development “looks kind of crazy,” Bullzerk’s Bradley said, “but when you see it, you understand that people can come and really be here all day."

“There’s something for everybody, and it’s not luxury,” which he said Dallas has plenty of. His Bullzerk store will have a $250,000 bus inside that customers can climb into for social media shots and videos.

Other small-business Homestead tenants include Odin Leather Goods, Tyler Kingston Mercantile, Julie’s Sweets and Gnome Cones.

The Lawn section also will be finished this spring. It’s in front of a $4.5 million, 55-foot stage with dressing rooms and three LED digital boards that can be part of an audio/digital experience.

Some parts of the project will still be under construction when it begins to open.

The Grotto section, Lind said, will open later this year. It’s inspired by Covent Garden in London and has a tunnel that leads to a lake with restaurants.

When it’s finished, Grandscape will have a couple of dozen restaurants, including Windmills, a restaurant from India with a library-inspired interior design, and Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse.

A 12-story apartment building is under construction and will open next year with 345 luxury units with lots of amenities, including dog parks and meeting rooms.

What Lind calls a fashion section is coming later, with retail shops that will connect NFM with Grandscape.

When it’s finished, the walk from NFM to sporting goods superstore Scheels will be almost the length of six football fields, and the space is designed for stops along the way.

Lind and Wedekind said they kept three ideas always in focus: the environment, technology and a nontraditional merchandise mix.

“We’re not developers," Lind said. “We’re retailers."

Here are the firms that are working on the Grandscape project:

Master plan and design architect: Mark Tweed, HTH Architects (Los Angeles)

Production architect: Merriman Anderson Architects (Dallas)

Civil Engineer: Olsson Associates

Construction: VCC, which has moved its Dallas office to Grandscape

Landscape Design: Ochsner Hare & Hare, The Olsson Studio

Technology features designed and built by The Barnycz Group of Baltimore

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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