Thursday, June 20, 2024

Council approves new parking lot at Shops at Highland Village

The Highland Village City Council on Tuesday night approved the first read of a request from The Shops at Highland Village to add parking spaces and renovate its courtyards.

Digital renderings courtesy of The Shops at Highland Village

The Cheesecake Factory is expected to open late this year in the former Barnes & Noble bookstore space in the center of the shopping center, and The Shops wants to add more parking near and more direct access to the new restaurant. The Shops proposed extending Cherry Creek, the main entrance from FM 407, straight to the main entrance of The Cheesecake Factory and connect it to Deer Creek. Twenty parking spaces will be added alongside the new stretch of road, which will replace the existing southern courtyard, commonly known as Central Park. Six more parking spaces will be added along Deer Creek, and valet parking will be offered during busy restaurant hours.

Activities and events commonly held at the southern courtyard will be moved to the northern courtyard, which won’t lose the splash pad, according to a Shops representative. More than 2,000 square feet of landscaping will be added. A couple small lawns and a permanent stage will be placed between Lambeau’s American Kitchen & Taps and the new parking lot. The Shops also plans to add a gateway arch, benches, new seating, tables with umbrellas, string lighting and more.

During the public hearing, a handful of residents spoke against the proposed changes, saying they want to keep the current open space and they didn’t think 26 parking spots would make or break the success of the restaurant. Many more residents submitted written opposition to the request.

Some business owners at The Shops, however, spoke in favor of adding more parking in the center of the development.

“For a landlord to continue to improve this center and want to bring in more customers and tax dollars, I think we should be pinching ourselves as a city to be proud that somebody wants to take care of this center and do something with it,” said restaurateur Jim Verfurth, who owns Lambeau’s and Shoal Creek Tavern in the mall. “I don’t know of one tenant friend of mine who doesn’t want more parking in this shopping center. We’re begging for it … To have people park in front of my restaurant is a dream come true, because I don’t have that right now.”

P&Z commissioners approved the request, with amendments, by a vote of 6-1, with only Shawn Nelson voting against. Amendments include the addition of two ornamental trees on the east side, the installation of a landscape barrier between Lambeau’s and the head-in parking spaces, and the re-purposing of existing bollards for use at the two entrances when the parking area is closed for events. It won’t be officially approved until the second reading at the Sept. 12 City Council meeting.

The Shops plans to complete the project before the end of the year, around the same time that The Cheesecake Factory is expected to open. During construction, 17 existing parking spaces on the north side of the common area will be temporarily removed.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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