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When ground was broken for Plano’s Collin Creek Mall in 1980, the story was front page news.
It was the first enclosed shopping center in Collin County. Before the start, mall site was farmland at the northern edge of Dallas’ suburbs.
Collin Creek is now on the leading edge again of efforts to save the country’s shopping malls from their long, steady decline.
Developer Centurion American Development Group is going to tear down almost half the old mall, open up what’s left to the outside and add an array of mixed-use buildings.
The $1 billion project will include new apartments, hotel rooms, restaurants, office buildings, entertainment and a water feature in the middle.
Collin Creek’s ambitious redevelopment plan will be the first such local project of this scale to convert a 20th century shopping mall into a mixed-use project for the 21st century.
"It’s going to be a hard project we know that," Centurion American’s Sean Terry told Plano’s city council at its meeting this week. "We’ve done hard projects.
"If you’ve seen the Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas, that’s something we took from an area that was dying and we brought it back to life," Terry said. "We want to make Collin Creek that next legacy project – not just for Plano but for North Texas."
While Centurion American’s much praised redo of the Statler cost $250 million and took three years, the Collin Creek redevelopment will cost four times as much and is likely to take longer for all the phases to be complete.
The developers are eager to get the dirt flying on the first portion of the project, tearing down parts of the mall and moving the existing J.C. Penney department store.
"We’d like to start moving dirt by June or July," Terry said. "We are going to go as fast as we can."
For Plano residents who’ve been waiting for more than a decade for something to happen at Collin Creek, the upcoming groundbreaking couldn’t happen soon enough.
More than 700 Plano residents and city officials crowded into the old mall back in February when developers first showed their plans for the project.
Parts of the old mall will be opened up and converted into a retail atrium.