United Commercial Realty
Timeworn Inwood Village perks up
Shopping center repositions itself to meet changing demographics9.30.2005- Sandra Zaragoza, Dallas Business Journal
Times have changed since Inwood Village first opened to Park Cities and North Dallas shoppers in 1949.
With looming competition from lifestyle centers and malls, the 233,000-square-foot Inwood Village was at risk of losing its edge when a group of investors, including a pension fund, purchased the property in October 2003.
The idea was to modernize the shopping center by expanding its retail mix, while still preserving its past as a neighborhood landmark, said John L. Gerdes, vice president of L&B Realty Advisors L.L.P., which purchased and manages the property for the pension fund.
And it seems to be working.
Lately, the "historic and hip" shopping center at Lovers Lane and Inwood Road has experienced a re-energizing injection of new retailers. Storehouse furniture store, which is absorbing 11,000 square feet of the former 15,000-square-feet Bookstop space, Ragan Burns Menswear and Soven European Sleep Systems are all opening soon. The shops will join Inwood retailers like St. Bernard Sports, Blue Drake Outfitters, Bread Winners Cafe and Inwood Theatre.
At the moment, fountains -- a hot trend in shopping center design -- are being installed to foster pedestrian traffic, Gerdes said. So far, about $1 million to $2 million has been spent on gaining new tenants and upgrades including paint, lighting, roofing and updated signage.
Mixing it up
Early into the repositioning effort, the new ownership also brought in Brandon Harris and Lawrence Attaway of Dallas-based United Commercial Realty to oversee leasing.
Harris says the goal was to retain Inwood's loyal shopping base while broadening its retailer mix to attract other shoppers. The strategy was to play off the Park Cities' growing young family demographics, Harris said.
Gerdes concedes that it took longer than expected to change the tenant base, in part because there was little turnover in retailers and also because of increased competition from other shopping destinations.
But now Inwood Village boasts more men's clothiers, children's stores and women's merchants, such as Belly Chic, a maternity store, and Rettiz, a women's boutique. In two years, Harris and Attaway leased 33,000 square feet at the center, which is now about 94% leased.
It's word-of-mouth about what's new at the old center that's bringing shoppers, said Monte R. Stratton, Inwood Village's property manager.
"The proof is that sales are up and the parking lots are full," Stratton said, adding that sales at Inwood Village are in the $400 per-square-foot range.
Stratton and Gerdes say they were careful to listen to the input of loyal shoppers who didn't want the shopping center to lose its charm.
For example, the spire at the Inwood theater -- the shopping center's defining feature -- has stayed intact, while the rest of the theater was revamped this year. The Inwood is part of the Landmark Theatres chain of artsy movie houses.
Near the theater, a longtime restaurant, Casa Rosa, made way for a Cantina Laredo a few years ago, but the landlord made certain to keep the locally well-known mural that had been part of the original restaurant.
In fact, it was the long history of the center that drew one of L&B Realty Advisors L.L.P.'s principals to the Inwood Village acquisition.
"He helped stock the shelves of a pharmacy (at Inwood Village)," Gerdes said. "He felt it was a diamond in the rough."