Real estate services firm Masterplan reviewed efforts to resolve the parking crunch around Highland Park Village on Jan. 30 and asked residents to support a zoning request that would permit the opening of a 41-seat Christian Dior café.
The opening of the café would be offset by the closing of Highland Park Village’s Starbucks, and would have the net result of less overall activity and more available parking, Masterplan president Dallas Cothrum said.
Highland Park Village has already increased its parking capacity by adding spaces, as well as through a deal with the Moody YMCA and two shuttle services, he told about half a dozen residents during the Jan. 30 meeting. He said the shopping center is negotiating with Highland Park ISD for additional parking outside of school hours at Bradfield Elementary.
Cothrum said Masterplan is using cameras with license plate reading technology to enforce parking restrictions on Livingston Avenue, and parking fines for employees around Highland Park Village have increased by 440% since 2022.
Cothrum said that the Dior Café will be open 46 fewer hours per week than Starbucks and will have 46 fewer seats, effectively freeing up more parking spaces in the Village.
“I’ve heard you guys really clearly,” he said. “Fewer restaurants, more parking.”
Resident Paul Schoonover suggested the Village hire off duty police officers to enforce resident-only parking on Livingston, or post signs that say shoppers cannot park in the neighborhoods. He said the shopping center has made progress with reducing employee parking on his street, but shoppers and diners still ignore the restrictions.
“I think you’ve made some progress, and I give you credit for that,” he said. “But you’re ignoring the fact that a lot of these people aren’t employees. They are people that do not want to try to get into the Village itself to park their car. They take the path of least resistance.”
He called on the Village to commit to not increasing the number of restaurants, and to not replace those that shut their doors.
“I’m in favor of reducing the demand at this center,” Schoonover said.
Cothrum said that he would bring residents’ suggestions to Highland Park Village ownership.
During the meeting, Cothrum also asked residents for their input on horse-drawn carriages in Highland Park Village.
“There’s a lot of horse people out there like my daughter and I that don’t care for it for the animals,” meeting attendee Kathleen Bradford said.
The Christian Dior store will take over the space formerly occupied by Ralph Lauren at the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Preston Road, Cothrum explained after the meeting. The 41-seat accessory cafe will open inside Christian Dior in the fall, and the space currently occupied by Starbucks will be converted to fashion retail.
“We are very excited about a new Dior flagship store opening later this fall at Highland Park Village which will include women’s, men’s, and home collections,” Highland Park Village chief marketing officer Victoria Snee said. “There is currently only one Dior café in the country located at the Miami Design District. This would mark the second location in the U.S.”
Click HERE to view the Masterplan powerpoint presentation.