News Article | 1/16/2009

Victory Park to add bar, two restaurants

Developers of Dallas’ high-profile Victory Park have signed three new restaurant tenants: Stop-Play-Rewind, a neighborhood bar Naga Thai, a moderately priced Asian eatery; and Olivella’s Neo Pizza Napoletana.

Olivella’s also has a pizzeria at McFarlin Boulevard and Hillcrest Road near Southern Methodist University.

The leases come after two big Victory anchors – LFT department store and Nove Italiano restaurant – couldn’t make a go of it in the $600 million development.

Victory’s owners acknowledge that they’ve made some miscalculations, and the down economy is also challenging the development.

“Clearly the high-end mixed-use projects around the country are more significantly impacted by the financial storm we are in,” said Todd Platt, chief executive of Victory developer Hillwood Investments. “And frankly, we have made some mistakes along the road, too.

“We are going to do a better job in the future of appealing to a greater wave of the public,” he said.

While most of the early retail and restaurant tenants in Victory have been aimed at a more affluent crowd, the new deals are for moderately priced venues.

“Our initial strategy was probably too high-end in focus,” Platt said. “We have other tenants who are close to signing leases in the project, and we will continue to work on it.”

Workers are about to finish the next high-rise residential building at Victory, the 28-story House condo tower.

Since the condo market has softened during the last year, there has been speculation in the real estate market that the House might switch to rental. Platt says that won’t happen.

The House is mostly unsold.

“I don’t think we will sacrifice our long-term goal and commitment to quality to do anything short-term,” he said. “We are really pleased with the quality of that project, and we think it’s best for the district to stay with the condo sales strategy.”

Victory’s condo projects are more than 70 percent sold, Platt said, and the office buildings are 80 percent occupied.

Hillwood still plans more office development, but the international credit crunch has curtailed lending.

“None of us can get financing,” Platt said. “The next two years are going to be tough for any type of development. Clearly it will be tough for us.”