The Battle for Pepper Square

Pepper Square
Trader Joe's at Pepper Square shopping center | Image by Henry S. Miller

A mounting zoning battle in the middle of Far North Dallas is entangling the retail tenants of the Pepper Square shopping center.

If developer Henry S. Miller’s plans come to fruition, the shopping center could undergo a dramatic transformation into a mixed-use area. This would include the addition of new retailers and restaurants and the construction of 1,550 luxury apartments, reported The Dallas Morning News. Notably, over half of these apartments would be housed in a new 12-story building.

The community has voiced its opposition to the proposal, primarily due to traffic concerns. Many local residents are against the idea of a large single-unit tower, with some suggesting the building be limited to a maximum of 400 units. According to DMN, the developer is willing to negotiate regarding the number of apartments. With a city Plan and Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for June 20, the clock is ticking for the two sides to reach a compromise.

According to a zoning change plan submission from Miller, “aging retail and empty storefronts can become a blight on the community.” The proposal states that the current “lack of quality tenants gives the wrong impression,” while refreshing the site would ensure “a much more inviting development with green space, landscaping, and amenities.”

“The planned upgrades will enable a revitalization of the shopping center to better serve the next generations in this neighborhood as Pepper Square has served the community in the past,” reads the proposal.

Grocer Tom Thumb was the first tenant to occupy Pepper Square when it opened in August 1977, followed by more stores in October of that year. Many of the ambitious original plans for the mall, like the creation of a small lake on the premises, never materialized.

The mall has changed hands over the years, with Henry S. Miller Co. selling a 49% stake to a private family trust of local businessman Gerald Ford in 2015, per DMN. Proposals for refreshing the site into a mixed-use development have existed since at least 2022.

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