News Article | 4/14/2006

Several retail projects landing at Alliance

A new building boom under way at AllianceTexas in North Tarrant County will add more than 1,000 acres of shopping in at least three major projects.

The AllianceTexas development is already home to 140 businesses with more than 24,000 workers. The 17,000-acre development on Interstate 35W has had more than 23.5 million square feet of office and warehouse space constructed in the last 15 years.

“People think of Alliance and this corridor as the airport and the industrial program,” said Mike Berry, president of developer Hillwood Properties.

“No one has watched the amount of residential rooftop growth out here.”

The area around Alliance added almost 28,000 residents just in 2005, fueling the demand for more shopping space. It’s those homeowners and renters that attract the new retail.

“We’ve got three major sites where we want to concentrate retail and mixed-use development,” Mr. Berry said.

“We want to change the dynamics of growth in the I-35W corridor.”

To do that, Hillwood is working on more than 4 million square feet of retail space to be built in the next few years.

Construction on the first big shopping center – the 600,000-square-foot Alliance Town Center – is already under way at the southeast corner of I-35W and Heritage Trace Parkway. Construction began earlier this year on a 98,000-square-foot J.C. Penney store that will kick off the project.

And retailer Sam Moon Group has purchased land for a 150,000-square-foot shopping complex for its import sales business.

“Our first phase is about 70 acres,” said Terry Montesi, president of Fort Worth’s Trademark Property Co., which is building the project in partnership with Hillwood.

“The type of tenants will be the Best Buys and Circuit Citys, Hobby Lobbys and Old Navys and others.

“We have already received a commitment from another department store” that will join Penney in the project, he said.

“There are also a number of cinemas interested and bookstores and restaurants.”

‘Shopping hub’

Alliance Town Center is shaping up as a combination of big-box retail and – in later phases – specialty and lifestyle shopping, Mr. Montesi said.

The first phase with J.C. Penney will open this fall.

“We think the trade area for this is going to be extremely strong,” Mr. Montessi said.

“It sure looks like this is going to be the next super regional shopping hub in North Texas.”

The residential base is already in place to support shopping, he said.

And about 25,000 lots for additional homes are in the works for the area, according to Hillwood.

“Since 2000, it’s been the fastest growth area in the whole metroplex,” said Paul Winkelblech, economic planner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the regional planning organization. “They are not slowing down – they keep going great guns.”

It’s that growth that makes the area popular with potential merchants, real estate brokers said.

“The rooftops have been expanding exponentially,” said Brian Glaser, president of Weitzman Group’s DFW commercial retail division.

“Retail follows the rooftops.

“The trade area surrounding Alliance rivals what we have been seeing in Frisco,” Mr. Glaser said. “That’s why the retail market is aggressively pursuing the corridor.”

More plans

Along with Alliance Town Center, Hillwood is working on a 500-acre project called Lone Star Crossing at State Highway 170 and I-35W.

About 650,000 square feet of retail is planned to join the 230,000-square-foot Cabela’s store, which opened last year.

Cabela’s alone is expected to attract more than 4 million visitors a year.

And on State Highway 170 in Westlake, Hillwood has been planning since 1999 to build the Shops at Circle T Ranch mall with developer General Growth Properties.

While the mall has been delayed and converted into an open-air regional center, General Growth is moving ahead with plans for a 300,000-square-foot center across the street.

The smaller shopping center could start this fall.

Others involved

Hillwood doesn’t have the market to itself.

Expansions of the popular Southlake Town Center on State Highway 114 have attracted thousands of shoppers to the region.

Developer Legacy Capital Co. plans a 300-acre mixed-use development on the west side of I-35W that could total $100 million in cost.

However, mall developer Simon Property Group recently dropped out of a deal to build the Presidio Vista complex in partnership with Legacy Capital.

“We are in negotiations with another developer to do the initial phase,” said Peter Aberg of Legacy Capital. “It will be approximately 70 acres and roughly 400,000 square feet” and is scheduled to open in late 2008.

Margaux Development is also working on a shopping center with more than 1 million square feet near the southwest corner of I-35W and State Highway 287.

But Hillwood – which kicked off the boom when it built Alliance Airport and the industrial park starting in 1990 – has the largest number of potential shopping center locations.

“With 17,000 acres of land, we have the inventory for almost every type of product,” Mr. Berry said.

Hillwood is also planning to capitalize on the urban center trend by adding apartments to some of its retail developments.

“We are going to launch a multi-family housing group and do it ourselves,” Mr. Berry said.

“We want to lead the market out here.”