What’s In Store For Highland Park Village?

Staff photo by Christina Barany
Highland Park Village managing partner Ray Washburne displays a town flag with former Mayor Bill Seay and former Mayor Pro Tem Gail Madden. The shopping center and the town have hired a planner to chart its future development. (File photo: Christina Barany)

There are more questions than answers about the future of Highland Park Village, especially in the wake of last week’s announcement that Tom Thumb will leave the shopping center within the next year.

Alex Krieger is a man trying to find the truth amid a slew of public rumors that have led to some animosity between ownership group HP Village Partners and adjacent residents over traffic, neighborhood integrity, and other issues related to the iconic shopping center.

Krieger is a Boston-based urban planning specialist who was in town on Monday to meet with the Highland Park Town Council and also with homeowners to solicit input about HPV from both sides. Because while it’s clear that something must be done, exactly what isn’t clear.

“There’s no such thing” as a secret “master plan” about the Village’s future development that has caused speculation, Krieger said. “There’s no specific agenda that we’ve heard.”

Krieger, who was hired jointly by the Village and the town, has met with several interested parties regarding future development in recent weeks, and he plans to hold several more meetings, including some for the general public, through the spring. Regarding the impending closure of Tom Thumb, he said the Village’s owners weren’t a factor.

“This is the decision of the grocery,” he said. “It was not the intention of the Village.”

Krieger said Tom Thumb officials reached an agreement with the Village several years ago to prevent a competitor from opening in the same location after the store closes. A grocery store could move into another Village location, but space is very limited.

“There’s no possibility for an immediate replacement, at least on that site,” Krieger said. “I imagine this will cause some skepticism among neighbors who are concerned about the loss of a supermarket.”

Another issue to be addressed is parking, Krieger said. He said the Village has always had only surface parking, but he said one option to alleviate congestion would be constructing an underground parking facility where Tom Thumb currently stands, then rebuilding a structure on top of it. He admits, however, that most options to add parking would be costly and disruptive to merchants.

“It seems like it would be a good thing to add parking, but it’s hard to know where to do that,” Krieger said. “The Village faces a bit of a dilemma. There’s no easy solution.”

Krieger said evolving retail dynamics, which have turned the Village into a hub for high-end specialty shops and boutiques in recent years, have caused the shopping center to transform several times during its eight decades. Village officials said public input is valuable as they develop a plan for the future, so it can be a source of pride for the community.

“I believe they are listening sincerely,” Mayor Joel Williams said. “I think a plan can be developed that can be well supported by the residents of Highland Park.”

12 thoughts on “What’s In Store For Highland Park Village?

  • February 25, 2014 at 10:32 am
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    I’m sorry, but everyone has a secret master plan. Especially when it involves your 200 million dollar shopping center. The moment commercial development guys start saying BS like this is when everyone needs to pay close attention.

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  • February 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm
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    I would to ask if Tom Thumb leaves the Highland Park Village I wonder what new stores are going to replace it.

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  • February 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm
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    So glad that the consultant involved in the traffic study for the private entity that owns The Village was so kind to allow public input and meetings with the citizens. How generous since they are paying for it anyways. What tremendous outreach and care they show the community.

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  • February 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm
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    Sad to see the community or village feeling leave without the grocery and the loss of Who’s Who’s Burgers it really is turning into a Rodeo drive. But grocery stores and burgers is not the type of foot traffic that someone pays $250M for. Well it was good while it lasted. I’m sure it was the grocery’s decision after the rent tripled. Just like the Mailbox place being forced upstairs. Pretty soon all the professional services will be wiped out, just can’t generate the rents and the retail commission to justify that price tag. I was dumbfounded when they kept the movie theatre. A large block of space. We will see if that gets reevaluated soon.

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  • February 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm
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    “Another issue to be addressed is parking, Krieger said. He said the Village has always had only surface parking, but he said one option to alleviate congestion would be constructing an underground parking facility where Tom Thumb currently stands, then rebuilding a structure on top of it. He admits, however, that most options to add parking would be costly and disruptive to merchants.”

    Great idea by the consultant. Tear down the historic structure yet there is a surface parking lot (expandable downwards) directly across Mockingbird.

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  • February 26, 2014 at 8:32 am
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    Why do I get “the residents are being bamboozled” feeling again after reading this. I wish HP Mayor Joel Williams and council would stop bs’ing the town and residents. If the HP Village wants to use taxpayer dollars and use city DPS vehicles which are parked in the Village, then start paying back the residents fees for usage.

    And by the way, there are school children, Mayor Williams, who are having trouble crossing Mockingbird Lane from crazy drivers. Where aren’t the DPS cars and officers over there? Instead of having the cross guard fight the cars off? Is the HP Village that more important to park DPS cars and protect?

    Let’s get a taxpayer return on the equipment being used usied. And, Mayor Williams, are you not a member of, or were a chairman of, the HP Community League as maybe some folks who own the HP Village? Is there not possibly a conflict of interest? It never smelled right.

    I have questions too and would like some answers before the entire town is modified for the benefit of a “few” simply to make more money and big box commercialization. The problem I believe is the HP Village folks paid a great deal too much and their calculators are smoking overtime to find a fix on the backs of the many residents that subsidize this place in the first place. Kinda like their friends across Preston Road.

    If I’m going to subsidize “a few folks” in HP, then as an equity investor in HP, I want to enjoy the amenities also. Do I hear “Fore.”

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  • February 26, 2014 at 9:40 pm
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    When is my HP Village barbershop going to get squeezed?

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  • February 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm
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    All anyone has to do is get more information before they make up stuff or start claiming conspiracy theories. The Fresh Market grocery chain is going to Turtle Creek Village where World Market is and Trader Joe’s is going to open in Inwood Village. Tom Thumb probably wouldn’t have stayed open long anyway . . people will get used to shopping somewhere else. I miss Harold’s too, sad the entire company went bankrupt. Sam Tamborello, the ultimate conspiracy theorist . . “don’t forget about the children! The chil-dren!!!! HP pays for security, if Bradfield wants a marked police car in front of their school all day, they can pay for it too.

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  • February 28, 2014 at 8:02 am
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    Just what we need….someone named “Google is your friend” to say cute little things on the PCP blog. Hey Googlie…. now I am a conspiracy theorist, I have never laughed so hard. Thanks for getting my morning off to a chuckling start.

    Your forgetting my cute little fuzzy friend, HP Village is a private enterprise vs. Bradfield Elementary, a public taxpayer funded school. Why does Chief Vinson and Mayor Joel Williams III have to be asked to protect innocent kids from crazy drivers? Apparently, it was and/is so bad that the news station came out and put the matter on television.

    Other: if HP would quit wasting money on fighting airplane noise (which has been around for decades), flags (like above), etc., then maybe HP would not have to give into outsourcing home security monitoring now. Give me a break. How funny. I guess that new town hall renovation really broke the bank.

    Some conservative neighborhood, hey? Looks like it’s just a bunch of balk talk, no action.

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  • February 28, 2014 at 9:07 am
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    Please do not force the UPS Store out of HPV. It would be a real shame if all the UPS Store boxholders and other HPV patrons must go elsewhere to find such services.

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  • March 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm
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    I bet the barbershop is safe because it’s upstairs. Same for UPS. As for Deno’s and Starbucks, it’s just a matter of time (and money). Consultants are only hired to validate what the owner wants to do. With a hotel in the mix, it’s clear HPV is catering to out-of-towners, not neighbors. I’m a capitalist like RW, but he should be ashamed.

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