Owners hope 8-foot tall Ten Commandments inside Lewisville’s Vista Ridge mall inspires shoppers

ICA Properties

The new owner of Vista Ridge Mall has lots of ideas to make the shopping center attractive to families and even for people who don’t care about shopping.

Odessa businessman John Bushman wants to turn the mall into a community space where people can find some "peace and love" in the Ten Commandments, hear some local musicians perform live and take in a giant wave of a 30-foot-by-60-foot American flag outside.

All of Bushman’s other businesses — hotels in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, other shopping centers and a Chickn4U restaurant in Odessa — display the Ten Commandments engraved on 800-lb stone tablets.

There was no question that the Ten Commandments would also become part of the common space in the newly renamed Music City Mall at Vista Ridge, Bushman said in an interview Thursday. Last month, Bushman’s ICA Properties paid $17.3 million in cash for the Lewisville mall and said it plans to spend another $3 million to $4 million on improvements.

"We’re not trying to overwhelm anyone or make a statement we just believe in the Lord’s love," Bushman said. "That’s the sole reason. We hope when someone sees it, it will touch their heart and give them new hope that day."

There was an issue with the floor of the mall’s second level being able to support a monument with all Ten Commandments.

"We’re putting the two greatest commandments about loving the Lord and your neighbor on the second level because they weigh about a third of the 800-lb. Ten Commandments," Bushman said.

The 8-foot-tall, 5-foot-wide Ten Commandments will be in a visible location too, but on the first level where the floor can handle it, he said.

"In times of turbulence in the world," Bushman said, "we’re sharing peace and the Lord’s love. We all need more of that."

He wants Vista Ridge to be a "wholesome family place" and he said, this time of year that includes Santa who will arrive at the mall on Saturday with free family photos to the first 100 customers. The mall has new Christmas decorations.

Faith-based marketing has been around in American business for a long time. Several large companies profess Christianity as part of the corporate culture and values. Among them are Dallas-based Interstate Batteries Corp., Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby and Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A.

Bushman agreed it’s unusual for a mall to display religious messages. But he thinks it will work in the big city as well as it does in West Texas.

Richard Morton, the mall’s new general manager, said there are changes coming outside the mall too. Six new entrance signs with the new name will be more visible from the highways and a huge 30-foot by 60-foot American flag will be waving from a flagpole.

There’s been some pushback on social media about the Music City Mall’s strategy. It’s worked at the mall Bushman has owned in Odessa for 20 years, Morton said.

Odessa, like Lewisville, is a great place to raise children, Morton said. "Can we be successful in Lewisville doing some of the same things? I think the answer is yes. Anytime a mall can be more open and friendly to shoppers and the community, I don’t see how you can fail."

School groups will be a big part of their free entertainment. There will be music daily even if it’s coming from two new self-playing baby grand pianos. A couple of movable stages are coming. An empty store space will be dedicated to local school art displays or performances.

Twenty, 65-inch TVs are being installed in the common areas for the non-shoppers to watch the big games.

Morton thinks the mall will draw families not only in Lewisville, but also in Coppell and Farmers Branch.

Not everyone is so sure inviting in music is a way to fix the shopping center.

Ginger Slavens, 34, of Lewisville, said she would rather see the mall become more like Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre with its updated and trendy tenants, or bring in new technology that integrates social media into the shopping experience.

"Lewisville has a chance to make a statement, and they are going to turn it into the Grand Ole Opry," Slavens said. "And that is exactly the crowd that they are going to attract. Odessa is not like Lewisville in any way."

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Lewisville calendar of events: Nov. 5-11

Dallas Events Calendar

Nov. 5

2 to 4 p.m.

Kayak tour

LLELA, 201 E. Jones St.

Drift under willows, float past reeds and cattails, and see what wildlife is encountered. All skill levels are welcome. LLELA instructors will give an introduction to kayaking and water safety basics. Ages 7 and up are welcome and all equipment is provided.

Registration is required online at bit.ly/CoLRegistration.

Nov. 6

10:30 a.m.

Preschool time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

The library will host free early literacy classes for preschoolers ages 3 to 6 years old. Classes will be held at 10:30 a.m. Mondays and at 11:15 a.m. Tuesdays. Activities will include stories, songs, finger plays and movement. The theme for the day is reinforced through a take-home activity. A ticket is required. Space is limited, so plan to arrive early. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

11:15 a.m.

Mother Goose Time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For infants, ages 0-15 months. The lap-sit class is designed to encourage one-on-one interaction between adult and child. The class is offered at 11:15 a.m. Mondays and 1:30 p.m. Thursdays. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

4 to 8 p.m.

Teen tabletop games

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For teens in grades 6-12. Unwind after school by playing tabletop games (board, card and dice games) with other teens. The library will provide the games, a mix of old favorites and new classics. No registration is required.

6 to 8:30 p.m.

GED classes for adults

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

Free Adult Secondary Education (aka GED) classes for adults will be offered at the Lewisville Library starting September 2017. The classes are designed to prepare eligible adults who lack a high school diploma to take the GED high school equivalency exam. The GED classes will be provided by Denton ISD Adult Education and Literacy, and funded by the Texas Workforce Commission. Space is limited. Registration is required. To register, call Denton ISD at 972-350-3481.

7 p.m.

City council meeting

Lewisville City Hall, 151 W. Church St.

The Lewisville City Council will have a regular meeting on Monday.

Nov. 7

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Art exhibit

MCL Grand, 100 N. Charles St.

Draw The Message Paint The Heart art exhibition by Yoonsoo Nam will be on display in the main art gallery through Nov. 25.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Art exhibit

MCL Grand, 100 N. Charles St.

The Cross Timbers Artist Guild exhibit will be on display through Nov. 27 in the North Corridor Gallery.

The exhibit will feature works from the guild artists. The artists live and/or work in Lewisville, Flower Mound, Highland Village, Double Oak, Copper Canyon, Argyle and Bartonville.

10:30 to 1 p.m.

ESL classes for adults

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

Free English as a Second Language classes for adults are now being offered at the Lewisville Public Library Tuesdays and Thursdays. The classes are provided by Denton ISD Adult Education and Literacy and funded by the Texas Workforce Commission. Registration is required. Call Denton ISD at 972-350-3481.

10:30 to 11:15 a.m.

Toddler time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

The library will host free early literacy classes for toddlers ages 15 to 36 months at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and at 10:30 and 11:15 a.m. Thursdays. Classes are designed for walkers, each weekly theme is reinforced through an age-appropriate take-home activity. A ticket is required. Space is limited, so plan to arrive early. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

1:30 p.m.

Bilingual Mother Goose Time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For infants, ages 0-15 months. The dual-language lap-sit class is designed to encourage one-on-one interaction between adult and child. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Fall coding camp

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For children in grades fourth and fifth. The four-class “camp” session will teach students the basics of Scratch, a programming language developed at the MIT Media Lab. In the first two classes, students will be introduced to the basics of Scratch. The final two classes will be for individual and collaborative exploration, discover, and practice and for asking questions and receiving feedback from both the instructor and student peers.

Registration is required and opens Oct. 24.

6 p.m.

Leche y galletas

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

Families can drop in for a short story time in Spanish followed by a period of family reading enjoyed with cookies and milk. A free ticket is required to attend. Tickets are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis 30 minutes prior to the program.

6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Novels at Night book club

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For readers of popular fiction, bestsellers and award winners. Members read one preselected book per month. This month’s selection is “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. Pick up a copy of the book at the meetings or stop by the upstairs reference desk to ask for a copy. A limited number of copies are provided. Join at any time.

Nov. 8

10:30 a.m.

Spanish toddler time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

The library will host free early literacy classes for toddlers ages 15 to 36 months. Designed for walkers, the Spanish-language story time focuses on early literacy skills through stories, songs, movement and finger plays. A ticket is required. Space is limited, so plan to arrive early. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

11:15 a.m.

Spanish preschool time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

The library will host free early literacy classes for preschoolers ages 3 to 6 years old. Share stories, songs, finger plays, movement designed especially for Spanish-speaking families. A ticket is required. Space is limited, so plan to arrive early. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

1:30 p.m.

Spanish Mother Goose time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For infants, ages 0-15 months. The Spanish-language lap-sit class is designed to encourage one-on-one interaction between adult and child. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

2:30 to 4 p.m.

Microsoft Excel basics

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

Designed for students with limited to no experience with Microsoft Excel. In the hands-on introductory class, learn how to navigate Excel, understand columns and rows, cell navigation, entering text, write a basic formula, add and rename worksheets and more. Registration is required by calling 972-219-3779.

4:30 p.m.

Teen volunteer program orientation

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For teens ages 14-18. Learn about the inner workings of the youth services department from program preparation to collection maintenance and work alongside library staff. Teen volunteers must attend a teen volunteer orientation before being eligible to volunteer. Registration for the orientation is required to attend. To register or for information call 972-219-3577.

6 p.m.

Yoga in the Plaza

Wayne Ferguson Plaza, 150 W. Church St.

Blue Anjou Yoga Studios is holding a weekly “Yoga in the Plaza” event, every Wednesday. The weekly classes are free and open to all yoga levels. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own yoga mat or blanket, towel and water.

For information visit blueanjou.com or call Lisa Nicholson at 469-645-8555 or email lisa@blueanjou.com.

7 to 8:30 p.m.

Come write in

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

National Novel Writing Month participants can stay on track with their writing all month at Lewisville Public Library. Boost word count with writing sprints, word challenges and other creative games. No registration is required.

Nov. 9

4 to 5 p.m.

S.T.E.A.M. class

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W Main St.

Prime Explorations for children ages 6-8 is held weekly. S.T.E.A.M. classes incorporate age-appropriate science, technology, engineering, arts and math activities. Space is limited. A free ticket is required to attend. Tickets are distributed from the youth services desk on a first-come, first-served basis beginning 30 minutes before the class start time.

6:30 to 8 p.m.

Crochet corner

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W Main St.

Join experienced crocheter Michele Harlass and learn how to make basic crochet stitches and apply stitches to make different projects. Come together to share ideas, get inspiration or show off work. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own yarn and needles. A limited amount of supplies will be provided. No registration is required. Open to adults.

Nov. 10

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Veteran’s Day luncheon

Senior Activity Center, 1950-A S. Valley Parkway

Join the senior center in honoring veterans. The luncheon is free for veterans and $3 for non-veterans.

7 p.m.

Acoustic jam session

MCL Grand, 100 N. Charles St.

The Visual Art League of Lewisville hosts free weekly acoustic jam sessions every Friday. All acoustic instruments and levels are welcome. All music genres are welcome.

For information visit visualartleague.org.

7 p.m.

Seussical performance

MCL Grand, 100 N. Charles St.

Christian Youth Theater (CYT) will perform five productions of “Seussical.” Show times are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 2 and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $13 for a standard ticket, $14 at the door and $12 per person for groups of 10 or more. Visit CYTDallas.org to purchase tickets.

Nov. 11

7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Bird walk

Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Center, 201 E. Jones St.

Bird watchers of all levels are welcome to join expert birders every second Saturday as they guide visitors to prime birding locations along LLELA’s nature trails. The walk is open to bird lovers ages 10 and up.

Registration is not required. There is no fee for the event; however, there is a $5 per vehicle entry fee payable at the gate by cash or check only.

9 a.m. to noon

Household hazardous waste collection

Residential Convenience Center, 330 W. Jones St.

Lewisville operates a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center that provides residents with a convenient, safe and environmentally sound way to get rid of waste materials that should not be put into the landfill. It is open the second Saturday of each month for Lewisville residents.

For information call 972-219-3504.

11:15 a.m.

Family story time

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

A story time for all ages to share stories, songs, finger plays and movement reinforcing early literacy skills. Ticket is required. Space is limited, so plan to arrive early. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the youth services desk, 30 minutes before the start of the class.

2 to 4 p.m.

Free math tutoring

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

For students in grades first through 12. Free math tutoring is provided by Intellichoice. For information visit intellichoice.org/sign-up. All spots filled passed on scores form a diagnostic test administered by Intellichoice.

2 to 3 p.m.

Women in the Air Force

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

Kimberly Johnson, director of special collections at TWU libraries, will be lecturing about Women Airforce Service Pilots. TWU is the national archives holder for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

2:30 to 4 p.m.

Intermediate Microsoft Excel

Lewisville Public Library, 1197 W. Main St.

Designed for students with some experience using Microsoft Excel, and who have mastered the skills covered in the Microsoft Excel basics class. The intermediate class will teach how to write formulas, error check formulas, insert charts, freeze panes, format number and data types, add a filter and more. Registration is required by calling 972-219-3779.

7 to 9 p.m.

Stars on the Prairie

LLELA, 201 E. Jones St.

Join LLELA for an evening viewing the wonders of the night sky from LLELA’s prairie restoration. Constellations both familiar and unusual, satellites and sometimes planets and the moon are features of the ever-changing night sky. The hike is open to ages 5 and up.

The fee for the event is $10. Registration is required at bit.ly/CoLRegistration. Search activity code 800001.

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