An odd and strange thing is happening at the Medallion Center at Northwest Highway and Abrams, which seems to violate about a dozen of the rules that large national retailers use to decide where to put their stores.

But as anyone who has lived here long enough can tell you, odd and strange is not necessarily a bad thing.

No one will confirm any of this, and the parties involved either didn’t return repeated phone calls or politely declined to comment on the situation. Also, understand that any real estate deal in Dallas isn’t final until after the building has been up for six months, as Kroger can attests. The grocer was supposed to put a store in Medallion last year, and even sent mailings to the neighborhood announcing its intentions. But the store never opened.

This time, though, it looks like Kohl’s, the midwestern department store chain, is going to build a store in Medallion’s west end, about where the movie theater used to be (and where Kroger was supposed to go). Meanwhile, the Target in Medallion – the Target that is three blocks away from the SuperTarget at Abrams and Skillman – will apparently be renovated and won’t close, despite its proximity to the SuperTarget.

Why is this news? Because national retailers like Kohl’s almost never, ever open stores in urban neighborhoods like ours, preferring to find a corn field, throw up a store, and wait for the subdivisions to be built around it. Chains like Target, meanwhile, have precise standards about how far apart stores need to be, and it isn’t three blocks. That each is doing something completely different says a lot about how national retailers might be changing the way they think about us.

And this should be welcome news to all of us – and especially to anyone who has lived here since the bad old days, when national retailers treated Lakewood and East Dallas as if it was a neighborhood in a decaying Rust Belt city. Save for Target (and one or two other exceptions), there hasn’t been a national retailer around here since the Gap in Casa Linda closed more than 10 years ago. Even in the past 18 months, as increasing real estate values have made parts of the neighborhood as pricey as the most exclusive suburbs, the only new retail seemed to be pay day loan outlets.

And before I get nasty notes from people complaining about my endorsement of evil national chains, let me reiterate that I prefer neighborhood merchants, whether they sell books or pants. But that kind of retail is almost gone, so the Kohl’s of the world are the best we’re going to do.

So what’s going on? Why is Kohl’s coming? Why is Target staying? Why haven’t suddenly realized that our money is just as good as someone’s in Frisco, have they?

“I wouldn’t exactly phrase it like that,” says Ed Fox, who teaches at SMU and is one of the most respected retail analysts in the country. “But I would say that it looks like they see things in this neighborhood that they like. Over the long term, they want to be where the people are and where the money is. So that must be what they see happening here.”

In fact, says Fox, that Kohl’s wants to be next to Target could be quite significant, and might even mean more retail in the future. Target has been so successful in Medallion and at Abrams and Skillman that there’s no need  to close the Medallion store, and Kohl’s noted this success. So, if Kohl’s opens nearby, they’ll get some of those Target shoppers. We’ve suddenly become a destination, just like all those malls and strip centers in Frisco.  That sort of clustering is common elsewhere, says Fox, but it is unusual to see it in a place like Medallion.

Does this mean that they pay day loan places are going to go away, replaced by retail that actually serves the community? That might be too much to hope for. But what’s going on at Medallion is a start, and we’ve learned to be thankful for that.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.