Stephen Moreland's Commentary

Posted February 13, 2008 (user submitted)

Richardson Square, a shopping center mall, located at the intersection of Plano and Belt Line Roads in Richardson, TX closed in the spring of 2007.Ross Dress for Less, Sears and Super Target remain open. I can’t say it’s a surprise, though. Upon my visit to Richardson Square in October 2006, there were only 41 merchants that remained open. This was a 45% decrease from my prior visit in April, 2006.

During my October visit, there might have been 75-100 visitors in the entire mall, on a Saturday no less. And most of these were just walking around ­ not very many people were actually in the stores. There were very few national chains that remained open. Tenants were mostly local or regional stores and lightly visited. And considering what lease space costs at malls these days, I’m only guessing that the remaining tenants weren’t even making enough money to pay the rent.

What are the ultimate reasons for Richardson Square’s demise? I think they were basically these:

No Curb Appeal. Richardson Square opened in 1977 and only once in 20 years did they attempt a facelift at all, in 1998. And this was basically paint and new tile on the inside ­ nothing on the outside to draw visitors. It’s like placing your house on the market ­ it better have curb appeal or no one is going to come inside to see your newly remodeled kitchen.

I just visited Richardson Square again on Saturday, 5/19/07, kind of checking it out one last time. The doors were locked. Besides the mall proper, the perimeter stores are lacking in curb appeal, as well. Some of the buildings look almost deserted, even though they were open for business.

Location, Location, Location. Traffic in Dallas-Fort Worth almost dictates that a shopping center or mall be relatively easy to reach. Unless you lived fairly close to Richardson Square, you more than likely will be coming from I-635. Richardson Square is about five miles and several traffic lights from I-635.

Age Demographics. The age demographics of an area could be an influence as well. If the neighborhoods close to the mall have a lot of teenagers, 20-, 30-, and 40-somethings, there will probably be good mall traffic. If the surrounding communities have a lot of retirees, or close-to-it’s, then the mall traffic is less. Richardson Square was in a well-established neighborhood.

Failure To Keep Up With Shoppers’ Trends. Malls must constantly re-invent themselves to entice current customers to come back, and to attract new visitors. Richardson Square did not do this. For years, malls could rely just on their novelty to attract crowds. Remember when it was an adventure just to “go to the mall?” You’d go to just gawk at the phenomenon. Now there had better be a lot more than just shopping! Malls have carousels, play areas, food courts, and ice rinks to draw families. On any weekend, there might be a car show, a fashion show, contests, celebrity appearances and tons of other events to draw visitors. Regular recipients of my newsletter may have noticed that Richardson Square was never in my list of events.

What is to become of Richardson Square? According an article in the July 21, 2006 Dallas Business Journal, a major portion of the mall will be demolished to make room for a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center. The demolition is now pretty much complete as of December, 2007.

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