Over the years, Plano’s Shops in Willow Bend has struggled to find its footing. Two previous owners have made significant investments in an attempt to transform the property. Shopping center developer

Taubman Centers opened Willow Bend in 2001 with 75% of its space leased and it was never able to gain the buyers and tenants it needed to be a vibrant mall. Starwood Retail was unable to refinance its loan and had to divest the mall to its lenders in 2020. The sale of the mall is expected to close on Wednesday. Here’s how we got here:

2001: Michigan-based Taubman Centers is spending $200 million to build The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano on West Park Boulevard and Dallas North Tollway. It was one of the last enclosed malls to be built in the United States and the last in Texas. The mall was hosted by Dillard’s, Foley’s (later renamed Macy’s), Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus. It was the identical range of downtown anchors from Prestonwood, which closed in North Dallas the same year.

2003: Several retailers are closing their doors and filing lawsuits due to a lack of traffic. A Dallas restaurant, The Mercury, has closed. Lord & Taylor leaves as retailer pulls out of Texas and other states. Saks Fifth Avenue is delaying its opening at the mall.

2004 : Saks Fifth Avenue opens a 120,000 square foot store.

2008: A FlowRider wave machine allowing customers to test surfing is added as part of a new 11,500 square foot Adrenalina store. It closed a few years later, leaving a large empty space next to a sparse food court.

2010: Saks closes several stores in the United States, including the one in Willow Bend.

2011: Crate & Barrel moves to Willow Bend and Restoration Hardware moves into the mall as it strategizes to become a furniture destination. It also adds Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and Z Gallery.

2014 : Taubman is selling Willow Bend and six other US malls for $1.4 billion to Chicago-based Starwood Capital Group.

2016: The Saks Fifth Avenue store is being demolished to make way for a $125 million redevelopment of Willow Bend stores that includes an outdoor dining space.

2018: The Crayola Experience opens and the Plano Children’s Theater moves into the mall. The 60,000 square foot outdoor addition opens with space for eight restaurants. Four spaces remained empty.

2019: Opening of the Equinox fitness club. A Cinepolis cinema and a 200,000 square foot office building have been delayed. The mall’s Apple store, the first in Texas, has moved to the Galleria Dallas.

2020: Starwood is in default on its mall-backed loan. The construction of the cinema stops. The lenders take control of the mall.

2021: Syracuse, New York-based real estate company Spinoso Real Estate Group begins operating the mall and tries to attract new retailers. Traffic continued to decline even as traffic from other regional malls recovered in the second year of the pandemic.

2022: The mall is being sold to a group led by Centennial, a Dallas-based real estate company with Dallas-based investors Cawley Partners and New York-based Waterfall Asset Management.

SOURCE: Dallas Morning News Research

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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