A major victory has been won in the battle for Denton consumers’ retail dollars and shopping habits.
Developers have been busy since last year remodeling 34-year-old Golden Triangle Mall on Interstate 35E, the heart of Denton’s largest shopping district.
Competing developers have been trying to lure away the mall’s Dillard’s department store.
But developer Cencor Realty Services and its partner MGHerring Group have just reached an agreement to retain and upgrade Dillard’s, officials with the Arkansas-based retailer confirm. It’s a huge win for a shopping mall that’s undergoing an eye-catching $30 million renovation.
“We are going to expand and remodel their store,” said Cencor’s top officer, Herb Weitzman. “This is a big deal for Dillard’s and the mall.”
Keeping the Dillard’s store is a validation for the developers, who almost three years ago bought the mall out of foreclosure.
Back then the property was a tired, darkly lit shopping center with rising vacancy rates and dismal prospects.
Open-air retail centers opening up in Denton County were lining up to pick off the old mall’s tenants.
But despite its age and dowdy looks, Golden Triangle had a great location at the south entrance to the city. And it is surrounded by acres of smaller, successful shopping strips.
“The reason for this to survive is it’s the best location in Denton,” Weitzman said. “We took the risk when we bought it and had no new tenants yet.
“We had the confidence in this location and bit the bullet.”
Weitzman and his partners, along with Denton city leaders, felt that the old mall could be successful given a design and marketing reboot.
The owners have rebuilt both the exterior and inside of Golden Triangle, with updated architecture and bigger skylights to bring more light in.
“The whole feel of the property has changed,” general manager Matt Ludemann said. “We have brought nine new retailing tenants to Denton, and three more are coming.”
The mall is more than 90 percent leased. New tenants include Charlotte Russe, Body Central and Pro Image Sports.
Out front in the parking lot, Pollo Tropical and Corner Bakery restaurants are being constructed.
J.C. Penney has started remodeling its Golden Triangle store.
And Barnes & Noble has renewed its lease in the center of the mall.
“We have three big-box tenants we are talking to,” Weitzman said.
Dillard’s will add about 30,000 square feet of space to its remodeled store, which will be repositioned close to the center of the mall.
Revamping old shopping centers to meet new consumer tastes is one of the largest segments of the retail development business.
“Remodeling is the name of the game now,” Weitzman said. “Our firm is renovating nine of its centers.
“There is a huge amount of effort going into these transformations.”
Follow Steve Brown on Twitter at @SteveBrownDMN.