A Royal Welcome

Shopping center hardest hit by tornado returns

Just an hour after The Sample House opened its doors at its Preston and Royal location for the first time in two years, the store hummed with the busy and excited chatter of shoppers and workers and the slide of the cash register drawers. 

“We just got our official occupancy certificate, and we are absolutely thrilled to be back,” Ellen Poole Aiken said. “We have missed our customers, and most of our original team will be back.”

Aiken runs The Sample House stores with her family. Her parents, Foster and Nancy Poole, opened the first store in 1958.

“The store is set (minus a few last-minute preps), and tomorrow cannot come soon enough,” Aiken added.

It’s been a long two years since an EF3 tornado carved a path of destruction across North Dallas, decimating the Preston-Royal intersection and, in particular, the Preston Oaks Shopping Center, home to several popular shops, including Central Market.

In October 2020, Regency Centers central region director Patrick Krejs predicted some beloved stores would be back in the summer of 2021. 

We have missed our customers, and most of our original team will be back.

Ellen Poole Aiken

“I’m pleased to be able to announce here today a projected construction completion date of June 2021,” Krejs said in 2020. “At that time, we’ll be turning over the rebuilt shopping center to our merchants for them to start their interior build-out.

“Our goal is to have them open and operating for next holiday season.”

Central Market reopened in June. A handful of other businesses — Nothing Bundt Cakes, McDonald’s, White House Black Market, and Prosperity Bank — are open again, too. 

“Our Central Market Partners and the entire Preston Royal community stepped up during this time of rebuilding and recovery,” Stephen Butt, president of Central Market, said at the store’s reopening. “While this was a total community effort, I am especially proud of our Preston Royal Partners, who have gone above and beyond to continue to serve this neighborhood. The silver lining here is that our Preston Royal store is stronger and better, and we are ready to welcome back our loyal customers to provide them the service and shopping experience they deserve.”

But the merchants in the south end of the shopping center had a longer wait. That mostly destroyed strip had to be rebuilt from scratch after demolition.

The exterior construction is complete, and, true to Krejs’s earlier predictions, the shopping center has been turned over to the merchants. Workers are scurrying to complete their interiors and storefronts, with Preston Animal Clinic, Fish City Grill, Hollywood Feed, I Heart Yogurt, Sample House, Talbots, Tip Top Cleaners, and Marco’s Pizza set to return. Restaurant D.L. Mack’s and Dorado Nail Salon will arrive as new additions later this year, Regency Centers spokesperson Eric Davidson confirmed.

People Newspapers intern Emilea McCutchan contributed to this story.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

One thought on “A Royal Welcome

  • January 18, 2022 at 9:41 am

    I’m so glad recovery efforts are underway and that they’ve been so successful! It’s already been such a challenging time for retail establishments. My best to all affected!


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