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DALLAS-A 100,000-sf centerpiece to the 600,000-sf Decorative Center Dallas is ticketed to go dark in the fall after two years of planning by Crow Holdings to tackle a full-body makeover of the specialty shopping district. As the plan moves into the final round of decisions, seven leases, totaling nearly 47,000 sf, have been inked.

“This has been one of the most active summers from a leasing perspective in five years,” Merry Munson Wyatt, associate with locally based Trammell Crow Co., tells GlobeSt.com. “New doors are opening and names that have been in the Decorative Center Dallas are opening storefronts.” The 54-acre, 23-building campus historically has been off limits to the general public, set up as a home furnishings’ preview ground and marketplace for high-end developers, interior designers and architects plus their well-to-do customers.

Four newcomers to the district and three relocating tenants from 1400 Turtle Creek Ave., where leasing was cut off two years ago, will open doors before summer ends.

Newcomers Central Hardwoods Inc. and Studio Becker have taken 5,204 sf and 2,570 sf, respectively at 1616 Hi Line Dr. while Renaissance Tile & Bath Inc. and Eclectic Design LP have signed for 7,580 sf and 5,301 sf, respectively at 1617 Hi Line Dr. Long-time tenant, Scott+Cooner Inc., is adding 4,778 sf to its 10,000-sf commitment and DesignTex Group Inc., 2,646 sf, as they prep to move to 1617 Hi Line Dr. from the soon-to-be-empty building. Also set to vacate is Interface Flooring/Bently Prince Street, readying for a move into 4,317 sf at 1645 Stemmons Freeway and Miele Inc., which is shifting into took 4,156 sf at 1700 Oak Lawn Ave.

Wyatt says eight of 23 buildings were pulled from active leasing as the planning team mapped out the overhaul. The next three to five months will be spent on final decisions, including the replacement product for 1400 Turtle Creek, a 5.5-acre redevelopment site. If the plan stays on track, construction could begin in first quarter 2007.

Of the 15 buildings being leased, occupancy is 85%, according to Wyatt, who teams with Jake Marks, TCC vice president to lease the center. The average lease is 3,000 sf to 5,000 sf and carries a 60-month term. Decorative Center Dallas is an assembly of more than 80 showrooms for an estimated 1,200 manufacturers.

Wyatt attributes the leasing uptick, or at least part of it, to the trickle-down effect from high-end residential projects that are either under way or on the drawing boards as manufacturers open showrooms to tap the pipeline of planned work, particularly in nearby Victory and Uptown. “People who are purchasing at that level are ideal customers for the design district,” she says. “We definitely have seen a lot more business with the condo business.”

As a result, Decorative Center Dallas also is undergoing a quasi-change: many “to-the-trade-only” operations are now leasing storefronts to keep up with condo construction. “Slowly, but surely there’s a turn to more retail-type customers,” Wyatt says.

Of the recently signed leases, David Lewis with Lincoln Property Co. represented Eclectic Design; Mirela Gabrovska with MBG Consulting, DesignTex Group; and Wayne Santos with USI Real Estate Brokerage Services Inc. in Atlanta and Rick Tiller with Grubb & Ellis Co. in Dallas, Interface Flooring.

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