Friday, July 08, 2005

All Fire(wheel)ed Up

Over the Fourth weekend, I finally ran across the site I'd been hoping to find for quite some time: the official Firewheel Town Center webpage that has site maps, aerial renderings, animations and so on. Now that it's a day shy of three months until the grand opening, I'm even more excited about what this is going to do to my part of town.

(For those not from around here, our city's long-awaited mall will not be one of those traditional boxy enclosed things, but rather an open-air "main street" layout with second-floor offices above street-level retail, featuring old-school architecture, a clock tower and a big open park area where concerts can be held. Some people, of course, have griped about the project's open design--having to be outside in the Texas heat, and so on--but a center of this kind will also regain the types of tenants--such as movie theatres, big-box electronics stores, and so on--that the malls long ago conceded to the open-air "power centers." It appears that Firewheel will combine the best elements of both concepts.)

It's funny that I'm getting all excited about this--I'm not a mall kind of guy by any stretch of the imagination--but this is going to transform Garland. One of our council members caught some grief a few weeks ago when he said that it was time to "turn the tables" on our neighboring suburbs:
"We're going to take money from the cities around us, where they've been doing it to us for 25 years – Plano, Richardson, Mesquite, Wylie," said [council member Michael] Holden, whose district includes the Firewheel Town Center site. "You can keep your people, but give us your money." (source)
While it may not have been the most graceful way to express that sentiment, he's basically correct. I'll certainly be spending a lot more money locally for things that I would have had to go to Plano to do. (Oh, and it will most certainly drive up the property value of Casa de Kev. That may mean some extra taxes in the near future, but it bodes well for a selling time way down the road.)

So if you're from out here in this area, check out the site to see what's going on behind the construction gates and find out where everything is going to be. (The aerial shot of the entire area is especially cool.) And even if you're not from around here, check it out anyway to see how the future of retail is going to look.

Jumpin' for java joy...and close to home: While doing the Googling that took me to the new Firewheel site, I also came upon a page for Firewheel Market, which is being built adjacent to the north side of the town center (between Dillard's and Highway 78, if you're a local). Thus was confirmed one of the things I'd been hoping for: a new Starbucks will be included in the mix. I knew there would be one inside the Barnes and Noble in the town center, but this will have the added bonus of a patio and maybe longer hours. Satisfying my evening Frap/Tazo jones will soon require a much shorter drive.

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