News Article | 5/29/2006

Belk, Cheddar’s board AllianceTexas bandwagon

Two new retailers have joined Fort Worth’s Alliance Town Center, bringing the 300-acre development another step closer to completion.

Belk Inc., the nation’s largest privately owned department store, and Cheddar’s Casual Cafe recently announced they will join JCPenney and Sam Moon Trading Co. at the city’s newest and biggest planned shopping center at AllianceTexas.

Trademark Property Company and Ross Perot’s Hillwood Development Company, joint developers of the Town Center project, said the planned 96,000-square-foot Belk store will be the company’s 10th location in Texas – and the first to be located in Tarrant County.

“Alliance Town Center has achieved tremendous momentum as it is now recognized as the prime retail location along Interstate 35W in north Fort Worth,” said Terry Montesi, president and CEO of Fort Worth-based Trademark Property Company. “Our expectation is to have 1 million square feet of retail committed to Alliance Town Center by the end of next year.”

The planned shopping mecca is located along the east side of Interstate 35W between Heritage Trace Parkway and North Tarrant Parkway in Fort Worth’s AllianceTexas mixed-use development.

Hillwood’s 17,000-acre Alliance- Texas development consists of commercial projects, corporate campuses, massive residential development and golf courses. AllianceTexas currently includes 140 companies and more than 5,200 single-family homes.

Stan Lottridge and Aaron Ashmore of UCR are handling the leasing of Alliance Town Center for the Trademark-Hillwood partnership.

According Hillwood officials, Alliance Town Center will provide a multi-use, village-like setting within the AllianceTexas development. The town center ultimately will house more than 2 million square feet of retail, office, residential and entertainment space, along with a medical campus.

Phase I of Alliance Town Center includes 600,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by JCPenney, Belk and Sam Moon. Though development officials say negotiations are ongoing with additional major anchors and several junior anchors, none is currently confirmed. The potential alternate anchors will occupy an additional 240,000 square feet within the development. Future phases will include a grocery-anchored center and specialty retail along with additional office and residential space.

Sam Moon, a discount fashion accessories store with locations in Dallas and Plano, first put Alliance Town Center on shoppers’ radar when it purchased 20 acres at the development in November 2005. JCPenney signed on as an anchor for the commercial development in October 2005.

“Alliance Town Center stands out because it will offer an outstanding retail mix and atmosphere,” said Darrell Lake, senior vice president of Hillwood Properties. “The store concepts are all new to this area, while the inclusion of the medical campus and the trail connection to the nearby neighborhoods is what makes this project truly unique.”

Alliance Town Center will also tie into more than 15 miles of existing hike-and-bike trails in Hillwood’s nearby residential developments.

Developers say the town center will not only include the first Belk store in Tarrant or Dallas county, but also will boast the first Cheddar’s in Fort Worth, and Sam Moon’s first stores in Tarrant County.

Alliance Town Center will also host one of the first of JCPenney’s stand-alone prototypes. The company recently decided to move many of its stores out of malls and into stand-alone locations.

The JCPenney store, currently under construction, has expanded its presence in the shopping center to 103,000 square feet and will add several name- brand product lines, including Sephora.

Cheddar’s, along with JCPenney, will open this fall. Belk and Sam Moon will open in fall 2007. Alliance Town Center also includes plans for the development of a 73-acre HCA medical campus.

Belk Inc. is based in Charlotte, N.C., and operates 277 fashion department stores in 16 states. The company, which was founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk, employs approximately 23,000 associates in its stores, corporate and division offices, and distribution center.

In a company release, Tim Belk, chairman and CEO of Belk Inc., said his company is both excited and pleased to open a Belk store in Fort Worth.

“The store’s design, merchandise offerings and customer services are

being planned to meet the shopping needs of this area,” Belk said. “We will offer focused assortments of the leading brands of apparel, cosmetics, accessories and home merchandise for the whole family.”

Belk added that the new store will also feature cutting-edge interior designs, floor layout, lighting, merchandise presentation and decor.

“Belk has an outstanding reputation for providing customers with the best in fashion, value, quality and prompt, friendly service,” he said. “We look forward to continuing this tradition in Fort Worth.”

Dallas-based Cheddar’s, which opened its first store in Arlington in 1979, has 23 locations in Texas and eight in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The company will build a 7,800-square-foot restaurant in the Town Center development.

“Cheddar’s is looking forward to having its first Fort Worth store in the Alliance Town Center,” Greg Good, chief operating officer of Cheddar’s, said in a company release. “We expect to have one of the highest customer counts of any restaurant in the Metroplex.”