Most of North Dallas shopping center damaged by tornado to be demolished

Most of a popular North Dallas shopping complex will need to be demolished after it was damaged by a tornado.

What’s left of the Preston Oaks Shopping Center at the southeast corner of Preston Road and Royal Lane will start coming down this month. An EF-3 tornado hit the complex and other parts of North Dallas on October 20.

Only the Central Market space will avoid total demolition. The rest of the L-shaped strip center will be completely torn down. Among the affected businesses: Celebrity Café, Fish City Grill, Francesca’s, Gap, The Gents Place, Interabang Books, Marco’s Pizza, Sample House and Talbots.

HEB officials said last week they plan to rebuild the Central Market and reopen in its same space, but didn’t have a timeframe on when the project would be completed. Its part of the building passed a structural test, avoiding a complete demolition.

Ben Davis, founder and CEO of The Gents Space, said the store owners got word officially on Monday from the complex’s owner about the demo order.

“We’ve been in purgatory pretty much,” Davis said of the wait to find out. “We were in that grey area of we’re we going to be able to rebuild or be torn down.”

Davis hoped his location, closer to the grocery chain where the damage wasn’t quite as bad, might be salvageable.

“We would really like to meet with the landlord and hear what they have to say. Is there an offer that’s attractive enough for us to wait or would be better served trying to find another center? Hopefully we’ll have some answers this week,” Davis said.

Some businesses, like Interabang Books, were clearly obliterated by the tornado and have already moved on. The bookstore recently opened back up in a location on Lovers Lane.

The Preston Royal Animal clinic has temporarily relocated further north on Arapaho.

My Family’s Pizza owner Frank Nuccio says he’s still in limbo with his insurance company.

“State Farm they called me last week and they were like, ‘Hey, they still won’t allow us to step foot on the shopping center,’” Nuccio said.

Nuccio would like to return to the complex where his family has served the community for 50 years, but he’s prepared to look elsewhere.

“I just don’t want to venture too far out of the neighborhood, but you know if I have to I will,” Nuccio said.

Property owner Regency Centers said in a statement, “We hope to be able to share a specific time table for Preston Oaks in the near future.”

For now, though, it’s focused on reconstruction and the many hurdles along the way.

The Small Business Administration said it has approved more than $1 million in federal disaster loans for Texas businesses and residents affected by the storms.