DALLAS-One of the nation’s largest multifamily developers is eyeing land in Las Colinas and Richardson in an aggressive development strategy that has two projects simultaneously under way in the metroplex.

Richmond, VA-based United Dominion Realty Trust also is developing communities in Austin, San Antonio and has one on the drawing boards for Round Rock, located 20 miles north of the state capital. United Dominion currently owns more than 80,000 apartment homes and has approximately 2,000 homes under development.

Dan Baber, the REIT’s Western Division project manager, tells GlobeSt.com that the Las Colinas and Richardson Telecom Corridor projects are in the early planning stages. “Those are out ahead a little bit,” explains Baber, who spends his days overseeing construction for the multiple sites being built in Texas. Demographics dictate the development so projects in Las Colinas and Richardson may include a moderate retail component, unlike the other developments, which are strictly multifamily undertakings, he says.

At least five United Dominion projects–including the Mandolin in Euless and the Meridian Phase II in Carrollton–are being developed via a joint venture, formed in late June with Credit Suisse First Boston. United Dominion owns a 25% interest in the joint venture and serves as the managing partner, assuming responsibility for operations. The five projects equate to 1,438 apartment homes being added to markets in Raleigh, NC, Lakeland FL and Phoenix as well as the two in the North Texas metroplex.

United Dominion’s Mandolin Phase I consists of 308 units being constructed on 19.03 acres at 2525 Highway 360 in the Bear Creek area of Euless. The REIT’s construction division plans to turn over the 4,286-sf clubhouse to its leasing entity in the next couple of weeks, with leasing set to launch on or before Dec. 1, according to Baber. The 19-building project is ticketed for a 178-unit second phase, a plan that hinges on the phase I lease-up. He says the first units will be ready for occupancy in mid-December although the community, which carries an estimated $17.3 million construction cost, won’t be completed until late 2001.

The project has been stymied by lost time in dealing with water injection techniques that have been needed to stabilize the earth. Baber estimates three to four months have been lost in valued construction time.

The Dallas architectural firm of Beeler, Guest & Owens has designed the complex, which features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes. The community has direct access garages and covered parking, limited access gates, a high-tech hospitality center, state-of-the-art athletic center, putting green and resort-style pool.

Situated in the Grapevine/Colleyville School District, the units feature crown molding, intrusion alarms, built-in microwaves, 18.2-cubic foot refrigerators with icemakers, garden tubs, full-size washer/dryer connections, ceiling fans, high speed Internet access and custom cabinetry. Some of the homes will feature built-in bookcases, home office centers, computer desks, fireplaces and separate stand-up showers.

The 270-unit Meridian Phase II, breaking ground a week ago, supplement 250 units that are fully leased in the first phase of the 16-building multifamily complex, situated at 23 Huffines Blvd. at the Texas 121 bypass in Carrollton, just north of downtown Dallas. Baber estimates construction costs for phase II will total about $13 million, about $1 million more than phase I had cost.

Meridian Phase II’s initial units will be ready for occupancy in six to seven months, with completion occurring by year’s end. The project’s completion will signal full build-out of United Dominion’s near 34-acre parcel, says Baber. If Meridian Phase II follows suit with the first phase, it will open its doors fully leased. The Archon architectural firm in Dallas is the designer of he Meridian community.

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