It’s December, and if you’re like me, you’re frazzled with holiday festivities. Even grocery stores seem extra crowded. And just how early do you have to get up to find a parking space at NorthPark Center?
Do you dream of a laid-back mall experience? Where parking is plentiful, the atmosphere is relaxed, and you can find an impressive selection of first-run movies? Where movie tickets, furthermore, cost five dollars less than at AMC NorthPark?
If all that sounds good, then head over to Midtown Art Walk at Valley View Mall. If you haven’t been to Valley View in a while, you’re probably thinking, “Is that place still open?” And I don’t blame you for having that thought, because we’re used to distressed businesses shuttering their doors and windows at the earliest possible moment. But because of extensive highway construction on 635, redevelopment of Valley View has been delayed until 2015.
Meanwhile, owners at Midtown/Valley View have a similar challenge to the one we’re facing with our future Town Center in Lake Highlands: hundreds of acres, mostly vacant, and an acute desire to get people into the habit of visiting the area. At our LH Town Center, we have the benefit of the outdoor facilities at Watercrest Park, where groups like the Exchange Club have maximized the potential of the site with Oktoberfest and food-truck events. Valley View’s physical strengths (and challenges) are about maximizing the potential of the indoor space.
Here’s a quick update: Earlier this year, most of the mall property was purchased by Beck Ventures, who plan to redevelop the acreage as an updated mixed-use site, with retail, residences and a hotel. They will retire the name “Valley View” and re-christen the site “Dallas Midtown” (as opposed to Uptown or Downtown).
Sears owns its portion of the property. It is the only remaining anchor store at the mall. There are also 16 screens at AMC that still draw patrons. Both businesses plan to stay open through the construction and to be a part of the redevelopment.
Meanwhile, the mall has thousands of vacant square feet designed to show off pretty things for sale.
Enter Gallery at Midtown, which is managed by Kiki Winters and her husband, Douglas Winters III. Together they own the art studio SkyPony, and they also oversee 28 additional galleries at the mall.
“The owner, Jeff Beck, has told us he wants to keep the focus on the arts, both visual and performing,” Kiki Winters told me. She said Beck has expressed a desire to find a way to keep the artist community as a part of future plans for the development.
On the third Saturday of every month, the mall hosts “Midtown Art Walk.” There’s live music, and galleries offer enticements such as bite-size chocolate, cheese samples and even wine. You can also meet many of the artists, including Nikki Duong Koenig of Cykochik, whose vegan (no animals contributed) handbags and designs are featured in this magazine.
This month’s Art Walk will be Saturday, December 21, but you don’t have to wait until then to stop by and visit the Christmas tree, which will be decorated with ornaments hand-made by contributing artists. The unique ornaments will be for sale to the public, and proceeds will benefit Operation Kindness for homeless cats and dogs.
Here are a few other activities you might enjoy during a leisurely visit to Midtown/Valley View: Get a portrait taken at Image Shots. Eat ice cream at Thirsty’s. Grab a pre-holiday manicure and/or pedicure. BYOBottle of wine and dine at China Grill, or even the hole-in-the-wall Latin-fusion restaurant, Alessandra’s, in the food court. And yes, it is possible to shop at this mall.
Finally, what about the carousel? Will it ever open again? Jan True, who manages the facility, told me the company who owns the carousel plans to move it, but if it’s still on site, they may open it periodically during the holidays.
In case anyone is listening, I vote YES to the carousel.