DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While many retail businesses destroyed by last October’s tornado have been rebuilt, that is not the case at the northwest corner of Marsh Lane and Walnut Hill Lane.
The tornado destroyed the 75,000 square foot Marsh Lane Plaza.
For months after, the damaged shopping center looked just as it did the day after the storm.
“It was depressing to look at,” said neighbor Dee Mayes. “It looked like a war zone and it was just so sad to have that right in your face day after day.”
The city said it tried to be patient with the property owner but last month Dallas filed a lawsuit against Hopkins Commercial Real Estate.
The lawsuit listed more than a dozen code violations and demanded the property be cleaned up.
According to the lawsuit, the property had become “a hazard to public health, safety, and welfare and constitutes an urban nuisance”
Last month, the shopping center was demolished and the property was scraped clean.
A chain linked fence now surrounds an empty concrete slab.
Owner David Hopkins told CBS 11 News, “We are currently in the midst of the planning and pre-leasing stages of the new building on the northwest corner of Marsh and Walnut Hill. Our goal remains to get the property back up and running as soon as possible. We want to give the residents in the area a great place to shop and dine.”
Hopkins would not elaborate on a timetable or what the rebuild might look like.
More than 300 residents from the surrounding neighborhoods have formed the Revitalize Walnut Hill-Marsh Coalition with the goal of having their voice heard on what they want to see built at the busy Dallas intersection.
“It seems like the perfect time – a perfect opportunity – to do something really special here,” said Rachel Deering.
Theses neighbors say instead of the pawn shops and box stores that made up the shopping center before the storm, they want to see a retail development with local businesses and places to gather.
“I love to have a coffee shop and maybe even a clothing store,” said Clarisa Lindenmeyer. “What we want is for the businesses and this developer to know is this neighborhood is booming. There’s a real opportunity here.”
In a 12-month span, northwest Dallas has seen a storm tear apart their neighborhood and then a virus turn their world upside down.
After all this, neighbors say they are trying to find some silver lining.
When looking at the empty lot at Marsh Lane and Walnut Hill Lane, some see the potential for one.
Deering said, “We are really hoping that they will embrace this community and let us help them make this something special.”
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