There’s new life amid the construction dust at the $30 million Champions Park restaurant/retail complex in North Arlington.
Open for business since last week, Tokyo Joe’s has been serving bowls and Bento Boxes of Japanese fare in one nook of the 54,000-square-foot project. It’s the first of 11 businesses — mostly fast-casual restaurants — that have leased space and will be open for business by the fall, according to the developer, Greenway Investment Co. of Dallas.
City officials say Champions Park will be another big draw for an entertainment district that already has the $250 million Texas Live! mixed-use development under construction and a $1 billion retractable-roof stadium for the Texas Rangers prepping for construction.
“This is the beginning of a destination restaurant development that will be bringing people into Arlington from all over the Metroplex,” said Mayor Jeff Williams. “When they get it open, especially with the outdoor seating opening to plazas and a fountain, it will really look gorgeous.”
On Friday, the site, on the northeast corner of Interstate 30 and Collins Street, was buzzing with construction crews preparing four pad sites for sit-down restaurants, finishing a centerpiece fountain and working on landscaping.
Despite no obvious signs of business activity, Tokyo Joe’s was pulling a decent lunch crowd.
“Each day it gets busier and busier, which is nice,” said general manager Dennis Reyes, crediting word-of-mouth advertising. “I get a lot of people driving by, asking when the other stores are opening.”
Soon, says Greenway Vice President Christy Hammons. Two of the tenants — BurgerFi and Castle Nails & Spa — plan to open within 45 days.
Opening later will be Urban Bricks Pizza, Torchy’s Tacos, Firehouse Subs, The Halal Guys Gyro and Chicken, Yumilicious frozen yogurt shop, Tiff’s Treats, Salata salad bar restaurant and the only sit-down restaurant signed so far, Social House.
Hammons said she’s in negotiations with a couple of other sit-down restaurants for the four pad sites, including a Mexican restaurant, but declined to offer hints. She’s also searching for a “high-end, chef-driven” restaurant to meet a what she considers a clear demand in North Arlington.
“We’ve talked to several neighborhood groups who really want that,” Hammons said. “We’ll keep pursuing it.”
The venue will include a grass festival area near the fountain, adorned with trellises.
“This is great. It’s unique to the area,” said Shan Moon, part of a group he described as having a small investment in Champions Park. He accompanied Hammons to Tokyo Joe’s for lunch Friday. “It should be well received.”
Greenway has leased about 60 percent of the 54,000 square feet so far, leaving about 21,600 square feet to be shopped around for more restaurants and other retail tenants.
Work on the buildings, fountain and landscaping should be finished by April 1, Hammons said. “Then it will just be the tenants finishing out,” she said.
There’s a Phase 2 on the drawing board for the 14-acre property, but few details. Hammons also is seeking a big-ticket attraction, like a movie theater, hotel, office building or “entertainment use.”
The Entertainment District permits a wide range of land-use options for Champions Park, including bowling and billiards centers, breweries, farmers markets, nightclubs and open-air vending.
Champions Park is getting an early foothold in an area prime for development. Across Collins Street is an 18-acre tract where Trammell Crow Co. has an agreement with the city to develop up to 1 million square feet of premium office space.
Just to the east of Champions, along the I-30 westbound service road, is the new $20 million, 200,000-square-foot corporate headquarters of home builder D.R. Horton, which is nearing completion. The company is leaving its downtown Fort Worth office space for Arlington and expects to move into the complex in late May.
“We’re in love with the area out here,” Hammons said. “It’s phenomenal right now. It’s great to be coming in here as all this is coming out.”
This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.