The Indianapolis-based Simon's execs weren't available for aninterview before publication time about dropping nearly two millionsf of retail plans for Bastrop and Buda, small but growing citiesabout 40 miles apart and 30 and 15 miles, respectively, fromAustin. Tom Rohde with NAI Rohde, Ottmers & Siegel in SanAntonio tells GlobeSt.com that the Simon team was negotiating torenew the two-year-old contract for 145 acres at the intersectionof Texas 71 and Texas 304 to develop Pecan Crossing in Bastrop. "Wethought they were going to renew," he says of a group led by theBrundage family who had re-priced its land to suit today's marketwhich, most likely, was the scenario with the other owners. Bothareas have become hotspots for developers of all sizes and types,with plans brewing for at least three million sf of predominatelyretail space.

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According to Rohde, the Brundage family's land abuts 110 ofroughly 350 acres, owned by a group led by Robert Leffingwell,which had its deal fall out as well. The third option spanned 200acres at the intersection of Loop 4 and Interstate 35 in Buda,where Cabela's just opened its doors. Simon's Les Morris lastFriday addressed two of the three dropped options with AustinAmerican-Statesman, saying the deals cratered because landownersweren't willing to wait to sell their land. In some cases in Texas,Simon has tied up land at least five years before taking down thesites.

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Rohde, though, says it was the increased price as well asSimon's delayed development plan that scuttled the land deal forthe proposed Pecan Crossing, which was penciled for a 2007delivery. "We kind of lost patience," Rohde says. Large tracts inBastrop are fetching $4 per sf to $5 per sf now that thedevelopment wheels are churning and the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines& Spa resort has opened.

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Rohde says the Brundage-backed group has hit the streets insearch of a development partner for a one-million-sf, build-outplan for hospitality, multifamily and office product with one mileof frontage along Texas 71. Meanwhile, Leffingwell said in thepublished account that his group is looking to build up to 650,000sf of retail and hotel space. Leffingwell couldn't be reached forGlobeSt.com comment.

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Simon controls market share in the region. Just recently, asubsidiary broke ground on the Round Rock Premium Outlets, north ofAustin, and Simon itself is wrapping up work on 750,000-sf WolfRanch in Georgetown, also along I-35 and north of the statecapital.

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