Steve Lay has seen the blank stares when he assigns his real estate students at Collin College a paper on any local mall and includes Collin Creek as a possibility.
Even though the mall is just north of one of Plano’s busiest intersections, U.S. 75 and the President George Bush Turnpike, the students’ lack of recognition confirms Lay’s hunch.
“A generation of local residents hasn’t shopped at Collin Creek,” said Lay, general manager of Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre from 2000 to 2013 and, before that, at Mesquite’s Town East Mall. “People in my classes have no idea it exists, and they drive up and down 75.”
It takes a dying mall a long time to descend into the obscurity that now marks Collin Creek’s life cycle.
Collin Creek was built for all the reasons that regional malls were created in their heyday in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. In recent years, the 1.1 million-square-foot center has been hit with everything that can make a mall stumble, weaken and finally close.
The 2018 holiday shopping season was Collin Creek’s 38th and final Christmas.
Its new owner, Dallas-based Centurion American, plans to tear it down and turn the prime 100 acres into a $1 billion mixed-use development with townhomes, apartments, office, retail, restaurants and a park.
The mall is expected to close by the end of June, and “we hope to have shovels in the ground by July digging the new all-underground garage,” said Centurion American CEO Mehrdad Moayedi.
A couple dozen tenants remain, and Centurion is giving them time to make their exits. J.C. Penney will be the only store to stay open during construction.
Plano still must approve the plans, but city leaders are motivated to see the redevelopment. They’ve worked aggressively in recent years to turn the city’s historic downtown that’s directly across the highway from Collin Creek into a more densely populated and thriving entertainment and government district.
How Collin Creek got to this point says as much about its ownership history as it does shoppers’ sentiments.
Department stores, the primary draw at any mall, closed. Owners went bankrupt or became absentee landlords. Banks, with no intent of reinvesting, assumed control in hopes the right buyer would show up. New shopping centers opened nearby to steal away customers.
All of those happened to Collin Creek, some multiple times.
Picture it now
It’s always the same national chains that hang around the longest in dying malls around the country.
At Collin Creek, Victoria’s Secret is still there and so is its sister L Brands company, Bath & Body Works. Foot Locker, GNC and Things Remembered are also among the last to go. Zales and Kay Jewelers closed after Christmas.
Years ago, the mall’s food court tenants were replaced by local entrepreneurs with their own menus of pitas and pretzels.