Garland: Shopping hot spot
Several projects are set
11:54 PM CDT on Thursday, August 11, 2005
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News
The intersection of State Highway 190 and Lavon Drive in Garland is still under construction. But that hasn't slowed the steady march of retailers toward North Texas' next hot shopping destination.
The Firewheel Town Center shopping complex is set to open in Garland in less than two months.
Kohl's, Home Depot and Lowe's are open for business at the busy corner. Less than two months from now, the huge Firewheel Town Center shopping complex across the street will welcome its first customers.
Add in the other retail projects under construction, and there will be almost 2.4 million square feet of shopping space near the crossroads.
Crews work on pavement in the Firewheel retail district along State Highway 190 in Garland.
"It's a huge change for the city, and we are thrilled to have it going on," said Greg Sims, vice president of the Garland Economic Development Partnership. "For a city as old as we are, it's amazing to be having all this growth."
Garland still has a ways to go before catching up with Frisco and other regional shopping meccas, but the area at the eastern end of State Highway 190 is on many national retailers' radars.
That's mostly due to Firewheel Town Center, Simon Property Group Inc.'s 94-acre retail, office and residential complex.
The first phase of the regional shopping center opens Oct. 7 with major retailers that include Dillard's, Foley's, Circuit City, Barnes & Noble and Linens 'n Things. The center has almost 800,000 square feet of shopping space and 75,000 square feet of offices.
The big open-air retail complex is expected to employ 2,000 to 3,000 workers and draw tens of thousands of customers.
But first, the construction crews have to get out of the way.
"Every time I go out there I ask, 'Are we on schedule?' " said Rod Vosper, Simon's vice president of new development. "The answer is, 'Yes, we are.'
"This has been one of our smoothest projects."
Firewheel Town Center also will have a centerpiece park with elaborate landscaping, a fountain pool and flowing stream costing "well over $1 million," Mr. Vosper said.
An 18-screen AMC Theater is also scheduled to open in the project in December.
Mr. Vosper can't make any promises about when the Highway 190 construction in front of Firewheel will be finished. But, he says, the highway department plans to have the service roads in front of the shopping center done by opening day.
The leg of Highway 190 from Firewheel east to Interstate 30 is to be completed in 2009.
More to do
Construction of the shops around the big Firewheel retail center will continue into at least next year. The projects include:E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
DAMEON RUNNELS/Staff Artist
•Firewheel Market, a 107,000-square-foot shopping center being built by Cencor Realty Services at the northeast corner of Lavon and Highway 190. Tenants going in the three-building complex include Pei Wei Asian Diner, Starbucks, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Ritz Camera and Chase Bank.
"Hopefully, they will open around the holidays or soon after," said Earl Harris, vice president of the Weitzman Group, which is leasing the project. "A lot of national tenants are flocking to this site.
"It's a very dynamic location and will pull shoppers all the way from East Texas, especially when SH 190 connects with I-30," he said.
•Firewheel Plaza, a 150,000-square-foot retail center on the south side of Highway 190 at Crist Road. Reata Real Estate Services will break ground early next year on the center.
"It will be a combination of both big box and smaller tenants," said Reata's Travis Barnes. "There's a lot of interest in that area."
Developers have already remodeled a former Wal-Mart location at Lavon Drive and Naaman School Road into Firewheel Village. Tenants there include Hobby Lobby and Big Lots.
Simon Property Group is designing Phase 2 of Firewheel Town Center. Early next year, the developer plans to break ground on a 270-unit apartment complex with retail space on the ground floor.
"We like to call it an upscale urban community, similar to what one might find at Legacy Town Center in Plano," Mr. Vosper said.
Garland officials are understandably eager to see the building boom continue.
Just what's under construction now will amount to about a 50 percent increase in the city's retail base, Mr. Sims said.
"What they are building at Firewheel Town Center is only Phase 1," he said. "We've estimated you can do probably another million square feet."