Jeff Adams's Commentary

Posted January 13, 2011 (user submitted June 25, 2009)

If you lived in far north Dallas, Carrollton (where I grew up), Richardson, Plano, Addison, or Farmers Branch, this mall was the center of the universe during the 1980's. I worked at Lord & Taylor and at the survey place (Facts in Focus) and other kids I know worked at Joske's, J. Riggings, Wilson's, Waldenbooks, and other stores.

All of the cool places to eat at the time were right near the mall because Addison was the only jurisdiction that was wet. Magic Time Machine, Bennigan's, Friday's, Chili's, and Ninfa's, to name only a few, were all on Belt Line. Mandarin House was a cool place on Arapaho where they served underage kids. There were 3 movie multiplexes (3 different chains, but all named Prestonwood) on adjoining properties. Sound Warehouse and Taylor's Bookstore were at Preston & Belt Line.

The mall started going downhill probably at the time the Galleria opened and Valley View Mall remodeled, but it was very gradual at first. Montgomery Ward also closed around that same time, and even though it was a downscale store, the closing was a blow to the mall. You could buy concert tickets there, write checks for cash (ATM's were just starting to appear), and buy appliances and automotive goods. After Ward's closed, that end of the mall started to have lots of vacant stores. Mervyn's took over the empty anchor spot, but Mervyn's was also a downscale store and since they only sold clothes, there wasn't a reason for shoppers to wander over from the nicer parts of the mall.

What really killed the mall, though, were aimless teenagers. Starting in the mid-80's, they would come to hang out on Friday and Saturday nights. Kids had always gone to Prestonwood to play video games at Tilt or to skate at the ice rink, but these kids were different. They were clearly not destined for college and they would just roam around in noisy packs, not shopping or buying anything. Once DART started to get well-organized, their numbers were reinforced by kids from other parts of Dallas who looked very tough and would walk very slowly and would spread out over the entire walking space so that it was intimidating to try to get around them. It's hard to believe that kids would ride the bus for an hour to hang out at a mall and not even shop, but they did, and not jut on Friday and Saturday nights any more.

I suppose change is inevitable, but Prestonwood was a big part of my life growing up and I'm sad that it's gone.

David Avery's Commentary

Posted December 3, 2005 (user submitted October 26, 2005)

It was a scene that had been repeated many times before in many locations. What made the death of Prestonwood Town Center in Dallas, Texas different was the age and demographics of the mall. The location, at the Dallas North Tollway and Belt Line Road, was one of the wealthiest in Dallas County. The center was new, modern, well illuminated, and certainly had the drawing power of any mall around.

When the mall was opened in 1979, the city of Dallas was not nearly as overmalled as it has become. Valley View Center (which is becoming a dead mall in its own right) was a short drive down Montfort Drive or the Tollway, and the Galleria Dallas was not yet open.

The center opened with much fanfare with Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, JCPenney, Joske's (which became Dillard's in 1987) and an anchor that didn't fit the center, Montgomery Ward. After Ward's 1985 departure, a manager for the company commented, "People shopping Prestonwood weren't going to shop us after shopping Neiman's." The site was replaced by a Mervyn's.

In 1982, Galleria Dallas opened with Macy's, a beautiful Marshall Field's, and Saks Fifth Avenue. The next year, Bloomingdale's opened at Valley View. The expansion and opening soon began to take its toll on what was the prestigious Prestonwood.

Additionally, by 1994, the mall was a notorious hangout for teens, drawn by the large food court and the skating rink. It became extremely difficult for customers and mall managers alike.

A renovation announced in 1996 never materializes, and many stores have the original interiors of their openings. In September 1997, JCPenney closes its anchor; Mervyn's closes as well. When a new mall in Plano is announced, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor announce they will relocate. By 1999, they are the only two stores left in the center.

The year 2000 brings a new owner to Prestonwood: Goldman Sachs' Archon Group, for whom I worked while this deal was closed. Despite the bloodbath in the telecom industry, an ever-confident Archon announces it will make Prestonwood into a telecom center called Genisus Dallas North. The plans never fully come to fruition, as half of the center is complete, half is not. By October 2003, Archon announces that it will no longer pursue Genisus Dallas North and Prestonwood will be replaced by an open air center that has still yet to be built.

Neiman's and Lord & Taylor soldiered on-- but the nail in the coffin was the hit and run death of an elderly woman shopping at Neiman's in 2001. No one else wanted to go there afterward. By summer 2004, Prestonwood Town Center was completely gone.

What happened? Well, the usual traffic snarls around one of the deadliest intersections in Dallas wasn't helping. The teens didn't help. The downsizing of stores, of which JCPenney was first, was the beginning of the end. It appears to be a number of things, but it was a sad sight to see.

Anonymous from San Antonio's Commentary

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

I came across this site and found it incredibly fascinating. I even looked up the mall I practically grew up in (I hung out there from the age of about 13 to 19) and felt inclined to add some tidbits:

Prestonwood was notorious as a hang out spot for teenagers for a wide variety of reasons:

  • The side street of Prestonwood road was a transfer hub for buses coming from all over North Dallas. Kids from nearby suburbs in Richardson, Plano, Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Addison could usually get to Prestonwood with only one bus ride. Kids from all over the city could get there with only one transfer. For this reason, it was a popular place to meet new people on a Friday night. It also attracted certain kinds of teens: typically punk rock mallrats in leather jackets and bright green hair.
  • All of the dumpsters were hidden from public view behind large walls with potted shrubbery, giving teens a lot of nearly-private spaces to cavort (i.e. do drugs, sell drugs, have sex, etc.). And cavort we did! I know of at least one child conceived in this way.
  • The elevators could be stopped without an emergency alarm sounding and could be restarted from inside the elevator. This made it rather easy to have sex in the elevators or do drugs that required lengthy preparation. When a minor epidemic of teenage heroin use spread across North Dallas, it became hip to shoot up in the elevators and squirt your leftover blood on the walls.
  • An outdoor stairwell by Mervyn's was elevated close enough to the roof to allow anyone to climb onto it. This was yet another place to do drugs and have sex, even after hours when the mall was closed. In the late 90's after the mall had essentially died, it was a popular place for urban exploration because the building was largely abandoned and anyone could break into it without getting caught.

Justin Lee's Commentary

Posted December 2, 2006 (user submitted)

When the Minnesota North Stars were moved to Dallas in 1993, the Stars did not have their practice facility built yet. There were no ice skating rinks in Dallas at the time except in a couple of malls. It was decided that the Stars would practice at this mall until their new facilities were built. The rink inside Prestonwood didn't have glass above the boards. There was no netting beind the goals. The first and last few practices there mainly consisted of passing and skating drills.

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