In the News

‘Old, tired’ Plano Market Square Mall becomes a walkable mixed-use development

July 7, 2023

Steve Brown | The Dallas Morning News

An old Plano shopping mall empty for years is reopening soon as the area’s newest mixed-use development.

The Plano Market Square Mall was built in 1980 on Spring Creek Parkway near U.S. Highway 75. By the early 2000s, the more than 300,000-square-foot cavernous retail building was struggling to keep its remaining tenants.

Houston-based Triten Real Estate Partners bought the mall in 2021 and has been working since to turn the former retail center into a combination of new offices, apartments and restaurant spaces.

About 180,000 square feet of offices have been carved out of the west side of the original mall, while the rest of the old building has been demolished to make way for construction.

The first office spaces will be ready later this month in the development that’s been named Assembly Park.

“We are supposed to be substantially complete on the office by mid-July,” Triten Real Estate’s John Hardaway said. “The first residents can move into the apartments in October and November.”

Plano approved zoning for the project in late 2020 after Triten Real Estate agreed to create a walkable mixed-use development. With months to go before completion, Assembly Park is living up to the developer’s promise.

“We hope that this will be a local destination for people to come,” Hardaway said. “There is not anything like this.”

Working with architects Michael Hsu and GFF, Assembly Park shows few reminders of the old shopping center.

“It was an old tired mall,” Hardaway said. “Part of our business plan is repositioning existing or older assets — delivering something that the community finds desirable.”

Developers all over the country are struggling to revamp old shopping malls. In North Texas, construction is underway on mixed-use redevelopments at Plano’s Collin Creek Mall and at Redbird Mall in Southwest Dallas. And a development to add apartments, a hotel and office space is in the works for Plano’s Shops at Willow Bend.

Triten Real Estate was drawn to the shuttered Plano Market Square Mall because of its potential. “We saw a big piece of property in a good location,” Hardaway said.

Assembly Park is close to Plano residential neighborhoods and just west of the city’s sprawling Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. The Plano Event Center and Collin College’s Plano campus are also nearby.

To attract office tenants to the mall site, the developers knew they needed more than just a revamped building.

“What the business community is telling us is they want a cool, fun place to bring their people back to that has dining options, that has access to the outdoors and also has housing,” Hardaway said. “That’s different than your traditional standalone office.”

The office spaces created out of the remaining mall space come with outdoor gathering places, a new fitness center and large tenant common areas that occupy areas where shoppers strolled outside the mall’s storefronts.

“Think of this as a five-story office building laid on its side,” Hardaway said

Lounge areas will be furnished with soft seating. There’s a meeting space where companies can host town hall gatherings and a quiet room where no cellphones will be allowed.

Triten opened the offices up with new outdoor spaces to bring in light and link to the surrounding development.

“You are only a few steps from an outdoor green space with landscaping,” Hardaway said. “We cut a bunch of windows in the building because it was all dark.”

The office lobby interiors include new decorative wooden ceiling panels along with original steel work and sections of old brick paving left over from the mall storefronts.

“In an adaptive reuse project, you expect some old elements with new,” Hardaway said. “The tall ceiling heights are really attractive to us, and the industrial feel.”

So far, the office space is getting a lot of looks from potential tenants, with Newmark Group marketing the property to businesses.

“We have had activity from big firms, small firms and businesses that range from financial services to creative and technology and traditional business services,” Hardaway said. “We’ve had inquiries from 5,000 square feet to 180,000 square feet. Activity has been really strong since we’ve gotten to this point.”

The project has come in under budget and early, he said. Harvey Inc. is the general contractor.

Triten is also getting a lot of leasing interest on the 16,000 square feet of restaurants and retail space constructed in new buildings on the south side of the property. “We are way down the road on having the restaurants all leased to operators,” he said.

The restaurants, apartments and office space are all coming in one phase of development — unlike other mall redos that are done bit by bit.

“The critical mass is crucial to deliver at the same time,” Hardaway said. “They feed off of each other, and the synergies outweigh the risk.”

The 305 apartments, in three-story buildings, fill the eastern section of the property once occupied by a demolished portion of the shopping mall and surface parking. About 20% of the rental units in the buildings are townhouse-style, Hardaway said.

“We think $1,800 to $2,000 a month is probably going to be the entry point” for the monthly apartment rents, he said. “The lawn right there by the apartments will have a giant sculptural element kids can play on. There are two giant patios (outside the restaurant buildings) and a hike and bike trail that connects to an 800-acre nature preserve.”

Construction of Assembly Park follows Triten’s success with another redevelopment, at home in Houston, called M-K-T. It’s a repurposing of a former warehouse in Houston’s Heights neighborhood.

“It’s about 250,00 square feet and has won multiple awards,” Hardaway said. “About half of it is office and half of it is retail and a lot of food and beverage.”

In Far North Dallas along Belt Line Road, Triten is also redoing an office and retail property overlooking Prestonwood County Club. Called Work/Shop, the Belt Line Road development includes 135,000 square feet of offices in two buildings and 81,500 square feet of restaurant, retail and entertainment space. There’s also 30,000 square feet of public plaza and green space.

“We are putting a lot of emphasis on the outdoor spaces in our projects,” Hardaway said. “Even though we are in Texas, these areas are going to be inviting for people even when it’s warm outside.”