Starwood Retail Pours $125M into Willow Bend Shops Redevelopment



The Shops at Willow Bend


PLANO, TXStarwood Retail Partners acquired the 1.2 million-square-foot project, The Shops at Willow Bend, in 2014. A class-A office building, luxury fitness center Equinox and only the fourth Crayola Experience in the country are the latest additions to the project. All initiatives are part of the center’s first major renovation and expansion in its 15-year history.

The $125 million reinvention is transforming the site into a multi-use commercial district, according to owner and manager Starwood Retail Partners. Construction began in May 2016 and will be completed in phases, starting in mid-2017 and continuing through 2018.

“The first point of redevelopment was to recognize the changes in consumer tastes,” Michael J. Powers, senior vice president, head of leasing at Starwood Retail Partners, tells “We’ve adapted this project to the destination retail trends we are seeing today, especially with the dining focus of DFW. We are expanding the existing footprint of the dining portion with chef-driven, not chain, options in different price points for a compelling destination/date night opportunity.”

The center will remain open throughout construction. The new anchors will join the previously announced North Texas Performing Arts’ Plano Children’s Theatre at the Willow Bend Center for the Arts, scheduled to open this summer, as well as the dining options in a new restaurant row. These include recently announced Knife, a steakhouse by celebrity chef John Tesar, the Mexican Bar Company debuting in Texas at Willow Bend and Dallas favorite Terra Mediterranean. In addition, 10° F Rolling Ice Cream brings Thai rolled ice cream to Texas.

“Any great urban area has a place to work, be entertained, dine, shop and just to gather. Our exciting new anchors, retailers, restaurants and reconfiguration will turn The Shops at Willow Bend into a 24/7 district that will become the heart of Plano and all of North Dallas,” said Powers.

The seven-story 200,000-square-foot office tower will connect to the mall, located between the food court and Forever 21. The building will accommodate up to 800 employees, and is being designed and constructed in collaboration with Encore Commercial LLC, a commercial real estate investment company based in Dallas.

Opening in spring 2018, the 60,000-square-foot Crayola Experience will include The Crayola Store in a 5,000-square-foot space. At Crayola Experience Plano, guests will enjoy classics such as naming and wrapping their own Crayola crayons, starring in their own coloring pages, bringing art to 4-D life, creating melted wax spin-art and learning how crayons are made in a live Factory Show, as well as some new experiences that will debut in Texas.

Now under construction, the 35,000-square-foot Equinox will offer guests services including Equinox-branded programs such as strength and cardio training, studio classes, personal training, spa services and products, apparel, and food and juice bars. In a unique move that will set Equinox apart in this market, several classes will be offered on the roof.

Located at the epicenter of North Dallas, with access to three major highways and significant frontage off the North Dallas Tollway, the reinvention will enable the mall to provide guests with an enhanced variety of unique shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. Construction highlights include a new entrance facing the Dallas North Tollway with valet drop-off and pickup, exterior amenities including enhanced lighting, fountains, comfortable soft seating and fire pits, and a full interior remodel/update.

“Plano already is home to many Fortune 500 companies, and its population of affluent young professionals continues to grow,” Powers said. “With these new additions and more to come, The Shops at Willow Bend will become more than just their favorite place to shop; it will be the place (where) they live their lives.”

There are core retailers in the mall and some will be remerchandised, Powers tells Its two levels currently feature more than 125 stores and restaurants, including Neiman Marcus, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Bath & Body Works, Crate & Barrel, Forever 21, Foot Locker, H&M, Anthropologie, California Pizza Kitchen and Sonic.

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