Plano’s Collin Creek mall redo will include new Crystal Lagoon

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Developers who plan to knock down most of Plano’s Collin Creek mall say they will add a Crystal Lagoon to the $1 billion mixed-use project to replace the ailing shopping center.

Plano’s planning and zoning commission unanimously approved a plan by Centurion American Development Group to build the ambitious project on the more than 100-acre mall site along U.S. Highway 75.

The redevelopment would include shopping, entertainment, housing, hotel and office buildings.

A portion of the 37-year-old mall would also be repurposed, Centurion American CEO Mehrdad Moayedi to plan commissioners.

"We’ll take the center out of the mall – now it’s open air," Moayedi said.

He said the first phase will include a 1.5-acre Crystal Lagoon water feature.

"It will be a big thing when you enter the project," Moayedi said. "Our restaurant patios back up to that."

Centurion Development plans to redevelop the Collin Creek Mall site, which covers more than 100 acres, into a $1 billion mixed-use project, including a Crystal Lagoon water feature.

Moayedi said that the developer decided to build the lagoon rather than uncover an existing creek, which runs through tunnels under the mall.

"When it rains it’s a problem," he said. "When that water comes it would pretty much wash everything away.

"We are spending a lot more money to put water features on top of it verses opening it up."

Centurion American bought most of Collin Creek mall in December and has been working with Plano city leaders and planners and neighbors in the area to come up with an acceptable redevelopment plan.

The proposed project would include 2,300 apartments, 500 for-sale homes, 300 senior living units, a 200-room hotel and restaurants.

There will be almost 9 acres of parks and 1.6 miles of hiking trails.

"We’ve reduced retail from 450,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet and added more entertainment," Moayedi said. "We have a big, big entertainment component."

The first phase of the development will include retail, residential and hotel construction.

"This thing is designed to be a village," Moayedi said. "That’s why our phase one is a big phase.

"We are selling a lifestyle," he said. "People want to see the amenities they are buying."

Moayedi said his firm studied mall redevelopments and mixed-use projects in Southern California to make its plans for Collin Creek.

"We’ve designed something that fits Texas," Moayedi said.

Most of the parking for the new project will be underground.

"Its very important for us not to have a sea of parking like the mall has," he said.

The second phase of the project will include moving the existing J.C. Penney department store to a new location on the property.

"J.C. Penney has been a great partner working with us in this process," Moayedi said. "Their corporate address is in Plano and we want to make sure they are treated right.

"We are spending $15 million to $20 million to move J.C. Penney," he said. "That puts the gun to our head to start the second phase."

Unlike in other recent Plano zoning efforts, there was no significant push back from speakers or commission members about the large number of apartments planned at Collin Creek.

"The 2,300 multi family units is large," said commissioner M. Nathan Barbera. "In a project of this scale I believe it is needed.

"Not one person is here to speak out against the density of this project."

Moayedi said the planned apartments will have higher rents than in the surrounding neighborhoods.

"We feel like there are a lot of professionals that are going to live here," he said, "I think the lifestyle will allow us to be successful at it.

"That lagoon and the amenities center and the pools will allow us to ask for a little bit higher rent."

The later phases of the Collin Creek development will include office buildings.

"We are going to see if you’ll consider moving your city hall there," Moayedi said. "We are hoping for some corporate moves.

"There is about 1.5 million square feet of office space."

Plan commissioners where overwhelmingly supportive of the Collin Creek redevelopment.

"You read the stories about malls closing all over the U.S. and taking entire communities with the mall," said commissioner Hilton Kong. "We have the opportunity to have something new and exciting that may work."

Commissioner David Downs said he’s hoping that the office development comes sooner.

"That’s an important part of making this work," Downs said. "I like the idea of a lagoon.

"I think it’s a good idea if there is a way to incorporate that. "

While most of the big developments in Plano have been in the western and northern sections of the city, the Collin Creek project would be a big investment in the old heart of the community.

"I’ve seen the mall go through an entire lifespan," said commissioner Joyce Beach. "We have watched it deteriorate.

"Those of us who live in the middle have been neglected some time," she said. "It’s good that we are getting something for us."

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