HARLINGEN — The Dillard’s Clearance Center at Valle Vista mall, which was converted from a full-spectrum store to a company discount outlet in 2018, is shutting down completely, officials say.
“I am confirming plans to close our Harlingen Clearance Center by Sept. 2,” Julie Johnson Guymon, director of investor relations for the company, said via email. “Importantly, we are working with our Harlingen associates there to place them in other Dillard’s locations in the area.”
Dillard’s Inc., headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, provides upscale merchandise at approximately 282 stores in 29 states, with the largest number of those, 57 of them, located in Texas.
Dillard’s has regular department stores in Brownsville and McAllen.
The loss of another anchor tenant, even one which converted to a discount center, will be a blow to Valle Vista. Like all American malls, the Harlingen mall fell on hard times years before the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic and its attendant lockdowns and shutdowns.
Despite changes in shopping habits, particularly the rise of online purchasing, the mall has been making progress, finding a replacement for its Sears anchor space in a development company which will modernize the 90,000-square-foot space.
Also, the business services company TaskUs has arrived to take up space at the mall, but with Dillard’s leaving for good, the mall owners have another anchor spot to fill.
“There’s nobody that was in the know who didn’t know this was eventually going to happen,” Raudel Garza, executive director of the Harlingen Economic Development Corp., said Wednesday. “Their lease was getting close to expiration.”
“Dillard’s, once they actually closed the original store and turned it into a clearance center, we saw the writing on the wall, and it was just a matter of time,” he added. “Their sales weren’t what they used to be, and it will have an impact, obviously, but it’s not a significant impact. Harlingen’s been doing really, really well in retail, and we’ll rebound from this just like we have from other things.”
In 2018, Kohan Retail Investment Group of New York bought the 651,000-square-foot Valle Vista for $12.5 million after the property was turned back over to lenders by Washington Prime Group in 2017, who cited as a reason that profits were not meeting expectations.
Valle Vista opened in 1983.
“There are some things going on at the mall, including on the Dillard’s property, that are exciting,” Garza said. “I don’t think I can necessarily talk about all that stuff, but I can tell you much like the Sears portion, which was sold to a separate developer, the owners of the mall are looking at trying to do that same thing with other parts of the mall.”
Garza said the mall is evolving into a mix of stores and other, non-retail businesses.
“It’s a very large space and it has the ability to accommodate large employers who have high parking needs, much like TaskUs,” Garza said. “There are going to be some things happening at the mall in the future that are going to change its characteristics a little bit. It’s going to have more of a mixed-use feel to it, which I think in the long term is going to be a good thing for the City of Harlingen.”
Partners in the mall’s ownership did not return calls or texts seeking comment Wednesday.