The Shoppes at Brownstones in Arlington will shutter its doors Dec. 31, ten years after a 1950s indoor skating rink was transformed into a popular boutique shopping venue.
In June, Dallas-based Graham Mortgage Corp. foreclosed on the property at 2408 W. Abram St., and the neighboring Boardwalk addition, deed records show.
Brownstones’ operator Taylor Gray, whose father owned the property, said she wasn’t able to strike a deal with the mortgage company to stay beyond the end of the year.
She said the few shops in the adjoining Boardwalk addition are not affected and will be staying open. The Brownstones salon and the adjoining Mexican restaurant El Gabacho is also staying open after signing leases.
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Gray said Graham Mortgage is being generous by allowing the 80-plus vendors to remain open for the holiday shopping season. She informed the owners of the small shops, a unique mix of specialty retailers who sell clothing, jewelry, home decor and gift items, about the changes last week.
“We just can’t find something that makes sense,” Gray said of her negotiations with Graham. “It was important for me to fight for as long as we could stay. It’s sad, but it’s OK. I wouldn’t do anything different, how it was handled.”
Executives with Graham Mortgage Corp. did not return a phone call seeking comment on their plans for the property.
Graham Mortgage foreclosed on Adlai Pennington, Gray’s father. Pennington bought the property in 2004 and the Shoppes opened that November. The property had been vacant since 1998.
Prior to that, the former Skate Connection, near Bowen Road, was owned for about four years by a group of Arlington firefighters who wanted to turn the building into a nonprofit youth center called the Barnabas project. That didn’t happen and they sold the property.
David Govea, owner of El Gabacho, said he may consider expanding, but added it’s sad to see the Shoppes at Brownstones closing. His restaurant did draw some business from shoppers, he said.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Govea said. “It took a lot of hard work to get where I’m at. I hate to see it happen. It seems like to me they did a good job over there.”
Dena Parker-Ellis has operated Make it Miami in the Brownstones for about 16 months, selling beach wear, opal jewelry, organic soaps and perfumes. She said she’ll take the first few months of 2015 to decide where she will move and talk to some of the other vendors about their plans.
Parker-Ellis, an Arlington resident who works in tech support for American Airlines, said she can’t afford to open a store in a more traditional shopping center. She said she keeps hoping the situation will change.
“I’m so sad. I love this place, it’s so charming,” said Parker-Ellis. “I’m not in a huge rush to leave. I’ve had more fun doing this.”
Anne Deering, who operates Annie’s Metal Outlet, selling metal decor and signs, has been at the Brownstones for seven years and has built a good customer base. She said she’d like to find another Arlington location. She also has shops in Richardson, Plano and Frisco.
“I’m very sad about it and disappointed they couldn’t work things out,” Deering said. “When we first opened, we thought we’d give it six months and see what happens. I’ve been there seven years.”
Gray said the hardest part about closing is leaving the vendors who have become like family to her. She said she doesn’t know what her plans are now, but hopes if she starts the business elsewhere, they will join her.
“I consider a great deal of them friends. When they got the news, it was heart-breaking,” Gray said. “I wish I could make it work.”