Tom Thumb at Lake Highlands Town Center?

The news we’re hearing from a number of different people in the commercial real estate realm is that Tom Thumb is seriously looking at building a new store in the Lake Highlands Town Center.

When we talked to the Town Center developer, Prescott Realty, a couple of years ago, we were told that Sprouts was very interested in opening a grocery store at the site. The most recent information we received from Sprouts is that the grocer is, indeed, interested, but not committed. The general size of a Sprouts store, usually 25,000 to 35,000 square feet, would fit well within Prescott’s original plan for a 25,000-square-foot grocery store near the southeast corner of Walnut Hill and Skillman.

When we heard Tom Thumb was interested, it surprised us, partly because Tom Thumb’s typical store is much bigger than the space allotted for a grocery store in the Town Center site design, and partly because Tom Thumb already has two stores nearby — one at Skillman and Abrams, and one at Skillman and Royal in Royal Highlands Plaza. But our sources tell us that Tom Thumb would likely close both of those stores if it opens a Town Center store.

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The Skillman-Abrams Tom Thumb is a 78,000-square-foot store, and the Skillman-Royal Tom Thumb is 52,000 square feet. If Tom Thumb does close those two stores and open a store at Town Center, it would be surprising if the store it opens is smaller than either of those stores. “I wouldn’t imagine them going down much more,” says Ethan Slavin, director of leasing for JAH Realty, which owns Royal Highlands Plaza. Slavin told us that he is “hearing the same rumors” about Tom Thumb closing its stores and consolidating at the Town Center, but adds, “We’ll probably be the last to know.” (The leasing agent for the Skillman-Abrams Tom Thumb, Marcia Minton, declined to comment, referring all questions to Tom Thumb. Our other commercial real estate sources also requested that we call Tom Thumb and the developer instead of quoting them. Both Prescott Realty and Tom Thumb were contacted for comment; Prescott says it “doesn’t have any comments or updates at this time”, and we’ll keep you updated if we receive a response from Tom Thumb.)

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One of the questions for us was whether a large Tom Thumb would require the Town Center to go back to the city and renegotiate its Planned Development. David Cossum, Dallas’ assistant director of sustainable development and construction, tells us that no, Prescott wouldn’t need another public hearing zoning process to build an 80,000-square-foot or so Tom Thumb. The Planned Development allows the Town Center a certain amount of non-residential square footage for four different quadrants of the project; the quadrant that contains the grocery store design is capped at 300,000 non-residential square feet. So Prescott could build a much larger grocery store than originally planned “as long as they could comply with the build-to regulations and any other requirements with TIF [Tax Increment Funding],” Cossum says. However, he says, “obviously, it’s not what was envisioned as a walkable development.”

We called Councilman Jerry Allen to ask whether TIF financing guidelines would keep a large Tom Thumb from being built at the Town Center, and he told us the Skillman TIF requirements “wouldn’t affect any plans like that.” Allen added: “Our whole objective on the Town Center is making sure it is a success, and we, quite frankly, have been working with Prescott to make sure that happens.”

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What is likely another major factor in Tom Thumb’s decision — or any grocery store’s, for that matter — is yesterday’s wet-dry election. Now that Dallas has voted wet, and grocery stores will be allowed to sell wine and beer, the Town Center site will look more attractive. If Dallas had voted to remain dry in areas, it might not have made sense for Tom Thumb to build a store at Town Center, a dry area before the election. (Its Skillman-Abrams store is in a wet area; the Royal Highlands Plaza Tom Thumb is in a dry area.) A wet Town Center pretty much “opens the floodgates”, as Scott Wynne says in our October cover story.

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  • Mark Dann

    With all due respect lh_newbie, there is No Way retail is “overdeveloped” in LH.
    If you are including restuarants? All you need to do is frequent the “few” we have here in LH to figure that one out. If you mean shops, I am not sure where you get your stats from??
    It also all depends on what kind of shops (retail). The town center is off to a slow start and will take some time to develop out all mostly due to the recession and economy that has suffered. But when it is finally complete it will be a HOT spot in LH.

  • JBP

    I would vote for a Market Street. Market Street is the best grocery store around by a long shot. Has anyone seen the one in Allen along 75? That is a perfect concept.

  • TS

    Dear NY Expat, I don’t know what kind of business dealings you are into but I question your honesty and integrity when you blog anonymously that you don’t trust Prescott or Jerry Allen. Please provide substance and your full name if you are going to make comments like that. Jerry Allen is not in the real estate business and Prescott is not in the city council business, which industry irks you.

  • NY Expat

    After several dealings, I personally don’t trust Prescott or Jerry Allen for that matter. Sorry. It’s business. And Prescott will do whatever it takes to get the job done no matter who goes into the vacant spots. They don’t want them vacant and obviously, nobody else does either.
    I’d want more of a true “town square” with a gazebo and such that you see in foreign countries, etc. But is that economically feasible? Unfortunately, not.
    A Sprouts would be great, but…

  • Brian


    We don’t need to put any calls in to Sprouts to plead our case. Instead, direct your calls to the good people at Prescott.

    Sprouts is much more in line with the goals of the development, and a welcome change to LH when compared to the other grocery options (though I actually quite like the Albertsons at NW Hwy and Ferndale).

    The leasing broker for the town center is the Retail Connection:
    CONTACT: Ross Golman
    PHONE: 214.572.8426

    Prescott was smart enough to set up a generic email account for the town center:

    A generic “Contact Us” page for Sprouts:

  • TS

    Lake Highlands isn’t over retailed it’s under demolished.

  • Susannah

    Another sprawling, overpriced Tom Thumb and two more empty buildings in Lake Highlands is certainly not what I was hoping for. Sprouts has great produce at great prices, and reasonably priced organics, natural foods and wine, all of which are in short supply in Lake Highlands since the Whole Foods at Walnut Hill and Skillman closed years and years ago. Does anybody know of a contact at Spouts that we can call to plead our case?

  • Priscilla Lewis

    Why couldn’t it be similar to the tom thumb at the Highland Park Village? That’s a boutique concept.

  • cbs

    c’mon sprouts! Thanks for the update. I would be dissappointed at a mega generic grocer. Now if it was more Simon-David like, I would be interested (but I don’t think LH can support that).

  • dottie

    It would seem a shame to invite Tom Thumb into the neighborhood IF there is ANY possibility of Sprouts or something similar to Sprouts coming .Tom Thumb has the pooest produce of any place in town!

  • lh_newbie

    The market is currently saying there is too much retail in Lake Highlands. My proof? High vacancy rates + the conversion of a good portion of the South-West corner of Walnut Hill and Audelia that will soon be converted from retail into residential.

    I personally don’t want TT in the LHTC due to the decreased walkability it would bring due to the size of their facilities, but I would like to see TT upgrade one of its two stores and if that means closing the other – so be it. I’d rather have one good grocery than two that are mediocre (at best) – my wife doesn’t shop at either and instead makes the trek to Mockingbird/Greenville when she needs to do “serious shopping” as she calls it – she is also hoping for Sprouts, as she loves their fresh produce. If we got an upgraded TT at Abrams/Skillman and a Sprouts in the LHTC, my wife would be tickled and we’d keep more of our dollars in the immediate neighborhood. My hope is that Sprouts pulls the trigger now that the area is wet.


  • Lake Lover

    To JT-LH, It is inevitable that the wave of tear-downs and rebuilds of older existing stores (and homes for that matter), is needed to appeal to consumers. What better way than to use the LHTC to do so. Wasn’t that the whole purpose of all of this work over the past few years-to add convenience, quality shops and dining to our neighborhood?
    Hopefully the other locations will rebound in time.

  • JT-LH

    I am concerned with TT committing to LHTC and here is why: 1.) they will close one or both stores which in turn will create more vacant space to be filled with the sac-n-saves of the world or the big lots of the world. 2.) We don’t want to increase the value of one part of Lake Highlands only to cannibalize the other areas. 3.) Once you get unappealing long term leases in a shopping center, then they have a co-tenancy of other retailers that follow – a downward slip as the owners of the shopping centers get desperate to cover their mortgages.

  • Lake Lover

    It appears the entire Skillman/Royal shopping center is doomed! I believe T.T. would be extremely successful in the LHTC, possibly being the only grocery store in our immediate area. Albertson’s on Ferndale/NWH always seems empty, while Tom Thumb stores tend to have a stronger follwing. T.T. offers higher-end products and deeper discounts on popular items. It would sure beat driving to the Mockingbird/Abrams or NorthPark locations, as the Skillman/Abrams location does not carry the higher-end products.

  • LH Lover

    Does this really make sense with Tom Thumb locations at Abrams/Skillman & Abrams/Royal. I see more vacant buildings in LH. Disappointed.

  • SHB

    To my knowledge, Safeway/Tom Thumb does not have a boutique concept, so I would assume that any new store will be a prototype full-service store like the one across from NorthPark. This means access for large deliveries which likely pushes the location to the furthest south end of the project which means a complete redesign of the residential component of the “south-of-Walnut Hill” half of the project.

  • lh_newbie

    According to a previous blog entry, we are 45 days into Prescott’s hopeful announcement “in 90 days”. I’ve been wondering if Prescott had some folks lined up that were contingent upon the outcome of the wet/dry vote.

    We’re very hopeful for a positive announcement in another “45 days”. 🙂