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EULESS, TX-If all goes as planned, a $1-billion mixed-use development will break ground in18 months to kick off a seven to 10-year build-out of 218 acres owned by San Ramon, CA-based Bennett Realty Group. A European-style town center will be rising from the ashes of a scrapped plan for a regional mall in the Ft. Worth suburb of Euless.

The project will be the gateway to the Villages at Bear Creek, where some 6,000 multifamily units have been built on land bought for investment by Bennett Realty and sold to developers through the years. The Euless town center will be modeled after California’s Spectrum in Orange County and Fashion Island in Newport Beach. “It’s a great opportunity to start a development of this magnitude from scratch,” Del Bennett, chairman and CEO, tells GlobeSt.com. He pegs the undertaking at roughly $1 billion.

The key, says Bennett, is the location of the acreage along Texas 183 and 360 near the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. The project is the latest in a string of town center projects to crop up in North Texas. But this one, emphasizes Bennett, will be unparalleled in its design and is being plotted on ample land to fuel a true New Urbanism development.

Bennett Realty has hired RTKL Associates Inc.’s Beverly Hills, CA team to design the project and Lifescapes International Inc. of Newport Beach, CA for the landscaping, which will include water features. RTKL’s handiwork in the region is the upscale Addison Circle while Lifescapes portfolio includes nine Las Vegas resort-casinos, including the famed Bellagio, as well as a full gamut of high-profile projects in the US and abroad.

RTKL will have the master plan in place in four to six months, opening the door for a groundbreaking in 18 months. Bennett will oversee the project from start to finish, with marketing duties falling to John St. Clair and Chris Colombe, both vice presidents of Dallas-based Henry S. Miller Commercial.

The undertaking is a twist from the norm for Bennett Realty, known for its savvy in land investment and sales and residential development in Arizona, California and Seattle. Bennett will joint venture with office, retail, residential and hotel developers to steer the vision to reality. The plan right now calls for two million sf of class A office space, 1,500 for-rent and sale lofts and condos, 500,800 sf of retail and entertainment plus two hotels, one a convention facility and the other, an extended stay version to cater to airlines employees. Market demand closer to groundbreaking time will dictate how the project evolves, says Bennett.

The project will revolve around high-end boutique and specialty retailers, sans major anchors. “There will be no big boxes,” Bennett stresses, “and no major anchors.” He’s been burned once in the regional mall planning and doesn’t intend for it to happen again. A half dozen years of hard work were scuttled when Nordstrom’s backed out of its anchor slot and headed to the North East Mall, which opened this fall. Bennett confides he was disappointed, but refused to back down in his plan to develop the acreage. Now, his strategy is to build “a world-class team that can in fact develop a world-class project. I will surround myself with the best talent available that will attract the best developers,” he vows.

Bennett Realty started acquiring vast tracts of land in Euless in 1986 and has since sold off some 700 acres to multifamily developers, who have the infrastructure in place to advance Bennett’s upscale, pedestrian-friendly lifestyle development. The hurdle now will be to work with Euless officials to game out a catch-all zoning conducive to the project. Bennett Realty will retain ownership of the 218 acres and participate in the development of the mixed-use components.

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