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Plano Children’s Theatre to Debut at The Shops At Willow Bend

More than one production at The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano, Texas, has announced its debut: Starwood Retail Partners has revealed the images of its $125 million renovation and expansion, which will recreate the luxury mall into a multi-use property and a complete commercial core for North Dallas. And one key component of that recreation will be the opening of Plano Children’s Theatre at the center.

Highlights of the renovation will include a welcoming new main entrance along the North Dallas Tollway; new retail and innovative adventures for families; a collection of up to eight chef-driven restaurants; a high-end health and fitness club; entertainment venues; and a seven-story Class A office tower. The interior also will be remodeled. Construction began in May 2016 and will be completed in phases, beginning in mid-2017 and continuing through 2018. The first phase, the demolition of the former Saks Fifth Avenue to create a two-level open-air pedestrian plaza that also will be home to the restaurants, has been completed and the site is being prepped for utilities and the plaza work to begin.

“This is an exciting time, not just for Willow Bend and us at Starwood Retail Partners, but for Plano and all of North Dallas,” says Edward Coury, senior vice president and director of leasing. “This beautiful, contemporary expansion will create a core where people will shop, work, play and even learn, as we will soon see with the debut of our newest junior anchor, Plano Children’s Theatre from North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA).”

Scheduled to open in spring 2017, the theater will include four performance spaces, six rehearsal spaces, a set build and costume shop, occupying approximately 22,000 square-feet on the upper level near Dillard’s. The largest youth arts organization in North Texas, the NTPA provides arts opportunities for ages five to 18 years old. This new location will be the organization’s flagship; it has other locations in Plano, McKinney and Frisco.

The move is particularly significant for Plano, which has seen a population surge, especially families with young children, according to Starwood Retail Partners CEO Scott Wolstein.

“These families are our guests now and will be well into the future,” Wolstein observes. “As we reinvent The Shops at Willow Bend, it will become a prototype for the ‘shopping center’ of the future, more than just a place where these families and all visitors browse and buy. The Plano Children’s Theatre is the epitome of this philosophy. The Shops at Willow Bend will become the place where our guests will make the memories they’ll cherish forever.”