LEWISVILLE, TX-The Billingsley Co. of Dallas has landed its first distribution taker, Sysco Food Services of Dallas LP, which is planning to break ground in December on a 575,000-sf regional headquarters and distribution center in the Lewisville section of the 1,900-acre Austin Ranch.

Henry Billingsley tells GlobeSt.com that highway infrastructure and building construction will get under way simultaneously in order to deliver road and product at the same time in December 2002. He says negotiations started about three months ago. “They knew what they were looking for. The rest of the spent time was talking with the city on tax abatements,” he says. What Sysco wanted was to relocate from Farmer’s Branch in Dallas to Austin Ranch, but it boiled down to which of the four municipalities crisscrossing the vast acreage would offer the best deal. In the end, Lewisville bested Carrollton at the table and Sysco took the deed to 48 acres of Austin Ranch’s northwest quadrant.

Engineers are fine-tuning their plans, which should be ready for Lewisville scrutiny in early December, driving a ground-breaking later in the month, says Billingsley. Infrastructure work will result in an extension of Windhaven Parkway and a new north-to-south road that will connect to Plano Parkway.

Billingsley won’t say how much Sysco paid for the acreage, but he stresses it brought competitive market rates. Gary Lindsey and Robert Fulford, both of Grubb & Ellis Co. in Dallas, negotiated the land sale for buyer and seller, Crow/Billingsley Investments.

The Sysco land is part of 150 to 200 acres dedicated for distribution and service center projects in Austin Ranch, which crisscrosses Carrollton, Lewisville, Plano and the Colony in the rapidly growing northern tier of the Dallas metroplex. Austin Ranch is benefiting from the growth pockets, with 450 multifamily units under construction, 550 units delivered and placing as the top pick for regional headquarters for Freddie Mac and Pizza Inn. And, that’s just on a fraction of the available land. Billingsley says the office, industrial, retail and multifamily components’ final composition will hinge on market conditions as will the build-out timeframe.

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