News Article | 10/5/2005

Hillwood Weighing Development Options

FORT WORTH-With Prudential Real Estate Investors at its side, Hillwood is sizing up development opportunities in AllianceTexas, California and Northern Mississippi–all markets with existing footprints and room to expand. And with PREI’s reach, the world is at Hillwood’s doorstep.

The Hillwood-PREI marriage was sealed with 10.6 million sf of 90%-leased office and industrial space in the 17,000-acre AllianceTexas. Michael Berry, president of Hillwood Properties, says the jury’s still out about the first reinvestment of the fresh capital gleaned from the high-profile sale. “We’re going to look at some development strategies at Alliance,” he tells, citing an 8,000-acre cache of developable land with up to 50 million sf of build-out capability.

Berry says funds also could be deployed into channels like retail as Hillwood forges ahead on nearly three million sf of plans to add shops of all caliber and style to Northeast Tarrant County and its neighbor, Denton. Some cash might even land at Victory, Hillwood’s $600-million development in Dallas. “Nothing is earmarked yet,” he says. What is certain is the capital will be deployed into new developments with high-return yields.

The Newark-based PREI bought into all that Hillwood owns in the 23.9-million-sf industrial airport-anchored development, which has more space on the way every day. Hillwood will continue to lease, manage, coordinate construction and be the accounting arm for AllianceTexas. “Our customers here at AllianceTexas won’t see any changes,” Berry says. “Hillwood people will still be on the front line. It will be seamless.”

Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood started shopping the partnership stake in the spring, with several investment groups lining up for a piece of the action. Berry says the new partnership assumed existing debt, but the New York City lenders, TIAA and MetLife, stayed the same.

The sweet spot of the deal, which was inked Sept. 30, is it’s the beginning of a marriage with a partner with deep international connections. “This is the beginning of a relationship, not the end. It allows us to realize the value that’s been created and restock the development fund,” Berry says, “and look for new opportunities whether they’re here or elsewhere.”