Drivers trying to navigate the intersection of Ferguson and Gus Thomasson roads in northeast Dallas may want to rethink their route.
The streets are torn up, and construction work is starting on the shopping strip.
Developers and city officials say the commuter consternation will be worth it early next year when a $10 million-plus makeover of the retail crossroads is done.
Casa View Village was once hailed as “a modern shopping center for one of the fastest growing areas of Dallas.” But 60 years on from the grand opening, the retail district in northeast Dallas was well past its prime when neighborhood leaders and city planners began crafting a redo.
Now construction is underway on upgrades for the shopping village that’s at the heart of one Dallas’ 1950s neighborhoods.
“We are 30 days into what we believe will be a 6- to 8-month renovation of the buildings at the northwest corner,” said Daniel Fuller with Dallas’ Shop Cos., which is redeveloping the landmark retail center. “Through the years, the property has faded a bit.
“There is tremendous political will from the city and the neighborhoods to restore these properties to what they deserve to be.”
Shop Cos. bought the 64-year-old shopping center late last year, in partnership with Dallas’ Hunt Realty Investments and CrossTie Capital.
The new owners plan to restore the buildings and bring in new retail and restaurant tenants.
They’ve already signed new leases with Ace Hardware and Tacos Y Mas. But not all the current merchants at Casa View are being replaced.
“There are probably three or four tenants that have been there since 1954,” Fuller said. “There is an art and science to merchandising a property that has the history Casa View has.
“We want to keep some of the tenants that have been there for a long time.”
When the retail center was built in the early 1950s, it was described as a “new downtown for far East Dallas” following thousands of new homes springing up on the edge of Dallas.
Originally called Casa View Hills, the retail strips served growing post-World War II neighborhoods where you could buy a new house for less than $8,000. Built with antique brick and decorative wrought iron, the Casa View buildings that Shop Cos. is now rebuilding were described as “New Orleans-style.”
Back in the day, the shopping center had two major supermarkets, Sears and J.C. Penney department stores and dozens more merchants serving northeast Dallas and Mesquite.
“Less than three years ago, farm workers were picking cotton from the land where the modern Casa View Village shopping center now stands,” The Dallas Morning News wrote in 1956.
Award-winning Dallas architect Omniplan — the same firm that designed Liberty Mutual Insurance’s huge new Plano regional offices and NorthPark Center shopping mall in Dallas — worked with Casa View’s owners, residents and the city on a renovation plan.
“The neighborhood, you could tell, was once something really fantastic,” said Omniplan’s Amanda Buckley. “This project is about getting back to what it was.
“There is a lot of opportunity there,” she said. “It’s not like a standard suburban shopping center with no character.”
Shop Cos. plans to keep Casa View’s quirky architecture and old-style charm.
“It’s a wonderful eccentric property, and our goal is to do a sensitive restoration,” Fuller said. “We want to preserve the original brick with the wonderful patina.”
The storefront canopies will be restored, lights and signage upgraded and the central plaza reworked with new paving and landscaping.
“We are planting 60 new ornamental and shade trees at Casa View,” Fuller said. “I think by year-end it will be quite a lot different.”
Neighbors like what they are hearing and wish it could move even faster.
“It’s coming — we’ve just got to be patient,” said Mike Nurre, a member of the Greater Casa View Alliance. Nurre said the neighborhood is attracting a new generation of residents who are eager for new shopping options.
“I know that the gentrification word is not popular, but it’s happening,” he said. “Far East Dallas is at a tipping point. At one time this was the most solid middle-class neighborhood back in the 1960s.”
Diane Hornquist works with the general counsel to oversee legal activities associated with various land development and operating company initiatives. Hornquist began her legal career at the Dallas office of Jackson Walker LLP in the real estate section.
Mike Wallace is responsible for all aspects of Hunt Realty Investments overseeing the firm’s direct-owned real estate portfolio, operating company investments and other real estate activities. He is responsible for sourcing and structuring all new investment activity, as well as Hunt Realty’s interaction and investment relationship with other Hunt-related entities.
Throughout his career, he has been involved in investments in single-assets, real estate portfolios, distressed loan portfolios and private and publicly-traded companies including equity, preferred equity, mezzanine and participating debt investments. His experience spans a broad array of product sectors including office, multi-family, hospitality, retail, senior living, student housing, industrial, residential and land.
Prior to joining Hunt Realty, Wallace was with The Hampstead Group, a Dallas-based real estate private equity fund which invested approximately $1 billion on behalf of institutional and private investors. While at The Hampstead Group, his responsibilities included new investment opportunities in real estate portfolios, publicly-traded companies and distressed loan portfolio acquisitions as well as management of the fund’s investments. He also previously worked for EFO Realty, a real estate opportunity fund where he sourced and structured joint-venture equity investments.
Chris Kleinert is CEO and president of Hunt Consolidated Investments, LLC, and Co-CEO of its holding company, Hunt Consolidated, Inc. He is president of Hunt Realty Investments and oversees the operations of both Hunt Investment Group and Hoodoo Land and Cattle Company, as well as the financial activities of the holding company. Other business interests of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. include oil and gas exploration and production, petroleum refining, electric power generation and transmission. Kleinert’s affiliation with Hunt Consolidated began in 1996. Kleinert received an MBA with a concentration in finance from Texas Christian University and a BBA in marketing from Southern Methodist University. Prior to joining Hunt, he was employed by Texas Commerce Bank (now JPMorgan Chase) and General Mills. Kleinert serves on the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University and SMU’s Tate Lecture Board of Directors. He also serves on the Neeley School of Business International Board of Visitors at Texas Christian University, the Board of Trustees of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Board of Directors of Amegy Bank -Dallas, and the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors. Kleinert chairs the Board of Directors of the newly created Men’s Advocacy Group for New Friends New Life. In 2009, Chris and his wife, Ashlee, founded Executives in Action (EIA), a nonprofit organization that leveraged the talent and expertise of executives in transition with local charitable organizations to enhance their productivity, efficiency and overall impact. In 2016, EIA merged 4 with New York-based Catchafire, Inc. to form Catchafire North Texas and expand the number of volunteers and nonprofits that can be matched nationally.