Arboretum Village.10.14The sign in front of Arboretum Village’s Fresh Market announcing that the store would open Nov. 17 has been replaced with a “coming soon” sign. The store manager says Dec. 3 is the new goal. Luke’s Locker, which had hoped to open this fall, is now planning on an April 1 opening. Lakewood Ace Hardware also hopes to open by the end of 2014, and we have a call into PetsMart about its expected opening date. Starbucks and Digg’s Taco will come later.

Right now, it looks like Lincoln Property Co., which is developing the Gaston-Garland-Grand shopping center, will come in right under the wire to meet its deadline of opening a grocery tenant by Dec. 31 in order to receive a $1 million grant from the city. At last week’s Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit, Lincoln’s Robert Dozier pointed out that we could be experiencing an even bigger delay.

When Lincoln bought the property in spring 2012, Far West nightclub still had ample time left on its lease, “so we were the proud owners of a Tejano nightclub that was there for another two years, ” Dozier said. “We got lucky. The nightclub missed a tax payment they owed to us, so we were able to terminate their lease and evict them early.”

Then Lincoln negotiated with the White Rock YMCA to move it across Gaston to Lakeview Shopping Center, which Lincoln also owns, until its new home at Gaston and Loving is complete. “If we were unable to do that, there would probably be another six months of the Y and the nightclub before we could start construction.” Instead, we should see the first stores open within a couple of months.

Lincoln purchased a portion of Lakewood Shopping Center at Gaston and Abrams the year before its Lakeview Shopping Center and Arboretum Village acquisitions, and Dozier said that because Lincoln owns three properties in this area, “a lot of what we’re doing is repositioning and right-sizing tenants — moving them to locations where they’re going to have a better-formatted store and more convenient parking.”

That was the case with Lakewood Ace Hardware, he said, which is currently at Lakeview but will have an “enlarged space” and more parking at Arboretum Village. “He’s been a great tenant at Lakewood [Shopping Center] for a number of years, so we wanted to keep Lakewood Hardware,” Dozier said. Another example he gave is Uptown Yoga. “We were very constrained at Lakewood, and to have a yoga store in there that we loved, but people would come and park for hours on end, it was hard for us to generate enough parking, so moving them down [to Lakeview Shopping Center] to give them more parking makes sense.”

Dozier didn’t announce any new tenants at the summit, but did talk about the 6,000 square-foot restaurant with a large patio that will be constructed next to Lakewood Ace Hardware, making it the closest space to White Rock Lake. “We’re currently working with two or three concepts, kind-of looking at menus and what we think is going to fit,” Dozier said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to announce that, I would say, within the next 60 days.”

We’re hearing the most likely candidate for that spot is La Madeleine, the Dallas-based French bakery. Early renderings from Lincoln, as well as real estate talk, alluded to something more along the lines of a Katy Trail Ice House concept. Dozier said at the summit that in terms of restaurants, “we like to go local. They’re usually better operators, and it resonates with the neighbors.” That rings mostly true with its tenants thus far — Cane Rosso and On Rotation in Lakeview Shopping Center, Liberty Burger in Lakewood Shopping Center and Digg’s Taco at Arboretum Village.

Neither Starbucks nor Chick-fil-A fits that mold, however. When asked at the summit whether Lincoln owns the corner where a Chick-fil-A has been discussed, Dozier confirmed that the company does own that land but didn’t address the Chick-fil-A rumors (and in commercial real estate, the lack of a denial usually equals confirmation). He instead talked about the corner adjacent to Arboretum Village that houses a pawn shop and automotive store, saying Lincoln doesn’t own that corner, “but we’d like to.”

Dozier described Lincoln’s three Lakewood-area properties as “a mix and blend of local and national.”

“We are very in-tune with local,” Dozier said, but retail categories other than restaurants are “usually dominated by people who have the ability to operate on a national basis,” he said. Fresh Market, for example, has 164 stores in 27 states, but Dozier, who described it as a “cross between Whole Foods and Central Market,” believes “it will resonate well with neighbors.”

“Our objective with our three assets is, how do we move people around to keep them within the area?” he said. “Really, our job is to try to put people in the right venues.”

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