With the addition of a the new plant-based food delivery service Nature’s Plate to its northeast corner — and rumors of Starbucks entering northwest corner — retail around Northwest Highway and Ferndale continues to inspire. 

An eclectic bicycle shop whose young, friendly, hip-without-even-trying owners will repair your vintage Schwinn; an upscale patisserie known for its (so-addictive-they-should-be-illegal) French macarons; a hardware store that sells baby chickens and specializes in organic home repair and urban agriculture; a nationally renowned art gallery; an herbal acupuncture center; a makers co-op where shoppers score one-of-a-kind handmade jewels, carved leather flasks, artisan soaps and locally fabricated fragrances (to name a few); trendy resale shops, one just for children and pregnant moms; a one-of-a-kind boutique known simply as The Store; nail and hair salons; a martial arts studio and a breakfast diner serving, all day, the sort of pancakes you dream about — if prompted to guess where a single intersection containing all of these businesses might exist, I would would hazard, San Diego? Or, somewhere in Portland? Maybe Oak Cliff or Deep Ellum?

But we need not look so far, because all the aforementioned and more — and presumably more still — exists at Ferndale and Northwest Highway in the Lake Highlands neighborhood.

Tip: Flip through the above photo gallery for more information on those Ferndale-Northwest Highway businesses.

No one ever accused this area of being sexy, but, despite its old bones and rudimentary exteriors, the shopping centers around Ferndale and Northwest make up a quietly blossoming hub of food, art, recreation and wellness.

Until recently, this area was home to Backus Shell, one of two remaining full service gas stations in Dallas. But last March the Backus family closed shop and sold their property to developers (TCG Ferndale Investors, according to the Dallas CAD). This made us sad, but Darren says, “We rode that horse as long as it could be ridden.”

I spoke with Darren Backus today — he’s supplementing retirement working a maintenance job in Plano. He says that he sold to developers who had been working on a deal to build a Starbucks on the property. He says he’s not sure if that deal will go through.

“Last time I checked, I was told it could be something else.”

One of the guys involved with the investment group that owns the property, Grey Stogner, can’t confirm any Starbucks action, but says he will keep us posted if anything happens. “We do not have any definitive plans at this time,” he writes in email. “We obviously feel this is a fantastic area with great potential. Once we are further along in our process we would be happy to discuss that with you.”

Before you go lamenting the Starbucks possibility, if it is a possibility at all, think about it.

Of course there is another locally owned coffee shop — the well-loved White Rock Coffee — already in the area. But Backus told us the experts he heard from explained that competition would be beneficial for both coffee shops. A past Slate article actually convincingly backs up that claim.

Some real estate experts would contend that the mere fact that Starbucks is considering the spot looks good for the neighborhood. Based on recent analysis by Zillow, a Starbucks is a predictor of increasing property values.

“Starbucks equates with venti-sized home-value appreciation. Moreover, Starbucks seems to be fueling—not following—these higher home values …” (source)

The latest newcomer to the area is Nature’s Plate. Founded by sisters Annette Baker and Marianne Lacko, the plant-based food delivery business will open in a small space near JJ’s Cafe and Ra Ra’s Closet.

I have feelers out for more data on the Starbucks, or whatever else might be happening at the former Shell space.

If retail in this area keeps swinging up, it could positively impact development along Shoreview at Ferndale, where years ago plans to build a mixed-use development died — due to proposed rezoning for multifamily properties — in the early planning stages.

As we continue to dig, here is something else to ponder: When I spoke with Shell’s Darren Backus, he voiced concern about the lack of business he was seeing at the Switching Gears bicycle shop, which recently moved in behind the Shell.

The thing is, he reminded me, we are getting some neat businesses in the neighborhood, but if we don’t use them, they won’t make it.