At a time when many shopping centers and malls are in serious decline, developer Monte Anderson and the city of DeSoto are teaming up to bring new life, new energy, and a new look to the 57-year-old Brookhollow Shopping Center in central DeSoto.
A vacant 26,000-square feet Ace Hardware, which served as a Brookhollow anchor store until closing in 2015, is being targeted for an innovative makeover that will repurpose the store into a “business incubator.”
Plans also call for food trailers, about 20 loft apartments, resurfaced parking lots and other offerings, all of which are meant to rejuvenate the nearly six-decade-old shopping center on Belt Line Road between Polk Street and Hampton Road in DeSoto.The transformed site will be designed to nurture small businesses such as restaurants, retail venues, and shared workspaces to serve mobile entrepreneurs that don’t need the overhead and cost of a full-size office.
Brookhollow was built in 1960 when shopping centers and malls were in their ascent with suburban growth, but those days are long gone, now that Amazon and other online marketers have moved to the forefront.
BUSINESS INCUBATOR TO OPEN THIS SUMMER
The current goal, said Anderson, whose Options Real Estate has owned Brookhollow since 1991, is to make the DeSoto shopping center “relevant again” by giving its anchor a full-scale retooling that will not only give the former hardware store a new look, but also a completely new purpose.
The reincarnated store, he said, will be designed to “reflect the real culture of the community instead of just putting in another chicken place, or another check-cashing (outlet), or another dollar store.”
“We’re trying to create more of an experience,” said Anderson, whose company specializes in development in southern Dallas County.
The project is the first of its kind in DeSoto, a Dallas suburb with a population of just over 51,000 people. Community leaders are working in a team effort with Anderson’s company to have the business incubator operational by mid-summer, possibly July 1.
Other team members include the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, the city of DeSoto, and the Dallas Entrepreneur Center. The DeSoto Chamber will have a space in the renovated anchor.“It’s a property that had been declining in the market so we’re finding another way of transitioning that space,” said Murphy D. Cheatham, CEO of the DeSoto Economic Development Corp.
After the closure of ACE, city leaders wanted to steer away from leasing the site to a value retail chain and reached out to Anderson to discuss non-traditional ways to use the space. The result was a small business incubator to foster new and developing businesses, said officials.
ENTREPRENEURS CAN WIN SPACE IN INCUBATOR VIA PITCH EVENT
Half the space has already been pre-leased. To land other tenants, the sponsors are planning a June 10 “pitch day event” in which small business owners will have the opportunity to present their ideas, services, and products to panel of judges and audience members in the hopes of securing a space in the incubator.
The event, which will be held from noon-5 p.m. at the old Ace Hardware store at 320 East Belt Line Road, will be open to the public. In addition to making a three-minute pitch, prospective entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to set up exhibition booths and sell products to visitors.
In addition to making a three-minute pitch, prospective entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to set up exhibition booths and sell products to visitors. Those interested in participating are required to register on the event website — www.growdesoto.org — through May 19. Those selected to make pitches will be notified May 29.
While the results of the pitch will go a long way in determining who winds up in the incubator, planners say the types of businesses could range from small window-type food take-outs to crafts or a game venue. Spaces will range from 200 to 800 square feet.
A “SUBURBAN RETROFIT”
Wana Smith, an Options real estate agent, calls the effort a “suburban retrofit” that will reverberate through the shopping center by increasing foot traffic and customers for other outlets.
Other businesses include a pizza shop, florist, a watch and jewelry store, a doughnut shop, a cleaners, and a Chinese restaurant. A small church is also located in the center, Smith said.
A Levine’s Department Store was located in the center, but closed. The center is in a populous area and has easy access to I-35 and I-20, say planners.
“We just hope we can get a great mix of tenants,” said Smith. “It will attract all ages.”
Images courtesy of DeSoto EDC and Options Real Estate.