A demolition company has begun tearing down the remains of the former Valley View Center on Thursday after two firefighters were injured while trying to put out a fire at the site earlier in the day, city officials say.
The 300,000-square-foot building remains on the corner of Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway and Preston Road was planned to be demolished starting next week after asbestos removal was scheduled to be finished, according to Dallas City Council member Jaynie Schultz, who represents the area. She said the abatement of the toxic mineral began in December and is around 90% done.
The demolition company contracted to tear down the building came on site Thursday due to the reported fire, Schultz said. The company successfully petitioned the state department of health, which is overseeing the asbestos abatement, to move up the teardown after two firefighters were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“Our firefighters being hurt was enough of an argument to the state that there was a mortal danger to leaving the building standing as is,” Schultz said. “This is something that should have been done a long time ago.”
She said it could take at least 90 days to tear down and clean up the site.
Scott Beck, CEO of Beck Ventures, the lead property owners of the site, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The 30-acre mall site for years has been one of the key pieces in the city’s plans to redevelop the North Dallas area it sits in, which was rebranded last year as the International District. The estimated $4 billion redevelopment project covers 440 acres, including the Galleria mall. The goal is to create a mixed-use walkable neighborhood that would include a 20-acre park, 10,000 new homes, new restaurant, arts and entertainment venues, and eventually a DART light rail connection.
The Valley View mall opened in the 1970s, closed in 2015 and most of it was demolished by 2019.
Assistant City Manager Carl Simpson said the demolition began sometime after 2 p.m. He said the demolition had to be moved up because the fire likely weakened the structural integrity of the building remains.
Thursday’s blaze comes after several other recent fires at the site. That led to the police department sending notice to the property owner in February that the old mall site would be designated as a habitual criminal property.
Dallas firefighters responded to the fire after 4:30 a.m. A group of firefighters became trapped by the fire, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said, but were quickly rescued. One firefighter was burned, while another sustained what Evans described as an “injury of the musculoskeletal variety.”
Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement, “Dallas deserves safe structures, a strong International District, and a vibrant new development on the site of the former Valley View Mall.
“This is a major step forward on every front.”
Staff writer Michael Williams contributed to this report.