Neiman Marcus, the Dallas-based luxury department store famous for its annual list of ultraexpensive Christmas gifts, will move from Ridgmar mall to the Edwards Ranch area in southwest Fort Worth to anchor The Shops at Clearfork, a new open-air shopping center.
Simon, the nation’s largest owner of shopping malls, said Thursday that it is partnering with Cassco Development Co., an entity of the Edwards family, on the first retail phase of the Clearfork development along the new Chisholm Trail Parkway. Besides Neiman Marcus, the 500,000-square-foot shopping center will have about 100 high-end specialty stores, a premium luxury theater and restaurants, the developers said.
The shopping center is expected to be completed in February 2017. When the new store opens, Neiman Marcus will close at Ridgmar, where it has operated since the mall opened in 1976, and shift 170 employees to Clearfork.
The retailer’s lease at Ridgmar expires in 2017.
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Karen Katz, Neiman’s president and CEO, said the retailer did not make the decision lightly.
“For many of our locations around the country, we’re always looking at interesting opportunities,” Katz said. “We’ve looked at many opportunities in Fort Worth, and we always came back to Ridgmar as the best place for us to be. When this opportunity came up, it was interesting enough that we had to take not just a second look but a third and fourth look.”
The new store will be two stories and 90,000 square feet, about 25 percent smaller than the Ridgmar location. “In 50 years, we’ve gotten much more efficient about how we use our space,” Katz said.
Neiman’s hasn’t decided on the store’s interior design, but Katz said it will have a restaurant, incorporate lots of technology and offer a broader selection of European luxury brands. “This community deserves a world-class Neiman Marcus store,” she said.
Clearfork is a 270-acre development on the Edwards Ranch between Hulen Street and Bryant Irvin Road. Shoppers will have access to The Shops at Clearfork from the Chisholm Trail Parkway. The Neiman Marcus store will face the parkway just north of the new Forest Park Hospital.
David Contis, president of Indianapolis-based Simon Malls, said the Clearfork shopping center is one of only a few the company wanted to be involved in developing from the ground up. Simon is the largest landlord of Neiman Marcus stores, which do about $900 million in sales at the 11 stores in its portfolio, he said.
The shopping center is expected to generate more than $350 million annually in sales and to have an employment base of about 2,000 jobs, Contis said.
“We thought it was a great opportunity for us to do a great retail center,” Contis said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in a very short period of time.”
The shopping center will feature park spaces, walking areas, fountains and amenities where people can sit and hang out, he said.
Contis said the names of the theater and other retailers will be announced in the coming months.
Crawford Edwards, president of Cassco Development, the family-owned business developing the Edwards Ranch, said it approached Neiman Marcus in mid-2013 about moving to Clearfork and had a letter of intent from the store by January.
Since then, “every large retail developer” in the country has contacted Cassco about partnering on the retail space, he said. Cassco wasn’t planning to take on a partner, but after it looked at the list and interviewed six possible firms, Simon became the “clear choice,” he said.
Mayor Betsy Price said the shopping center will fill a niche in Fort Worth and become a premier shopping destination.
“This addition will see tremendous use,” Price said. “Clearfork has done so many wonderful things already.”
Neiman’s was long rumored to be looking for another Fort Worth location. Last year, the retailer was reportedly considering a spot in Centergy Retail’s Left Bank project on West Seventh Street. That project has not started construction.
In April, the Star-Telegram reported that Neiman Marcus was considering a move to the Clearfork development after an executive with Trademark Property Co. in Fort Worth hinted at the possible move during a real estate forum.
Trademark is developing Waterside, a $185 million mixed-use development off Bryant Irvin Road, and was thought to be another possible location for Neiman’s.
This year, the City Council approved a $30 million economic incentive package for the Clearfork project.
Cassco is the family-owned business set up in 1954 to develop the Edwards Ranch. Clearfork is a section of the remaining undeveloped land. Developing the land was made possible by the opening of the Clearfork Main Street bridge in 2013.
Over the decades, other parts of the Edwards Ranch have been sold to commercial users and developers for projects including Hulen Mall and the Trinity Commons shopping center, as well as the Tanglewood, Overton Park, Overton Crest and Overton Woods neighborhoods and, more recently, Riverhills.
Several years ago, Cassco donated and sold 181 acres to the city for the Texas 121 tollway project, now known as the Chisholm Trail Parkway.
Clearfork will have 2 million square feet of office space, 1.2 million square feet for shops and restaurants, and 2,500 multifamily units. StreetLights Residential is building 392 residential units that will be ready by summer. The Shops at Clearfork, the first phase, about 34 acres, will also have 130,000 square feet of office space.
Simon is also acquiring the University Park Village shopping center on University Drive just south of Interstate 30. The deal is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter.
In North Texas, Simon owns North East Mall in Hurst, Irving Mall, Grapevine Mills, the Dallas Galleria, and the Grand Prairie and Allen Premium Outlets.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727