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AUSTIN-The Triangle mixed-use development in Central Austin lost its residential angle Wednesday when Atlanta-based Post Properties Inc. pulled out of the project, blaming the poor economy.

The decision could delay the scheduled June 1, 2002 start of the development as the other partners scramble to find another residential developer. Cencor Urban, a division of Dallas-based Cencor Realty Services Inc., is leasing the retail part of the project and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Retardation is the property owner. “We’re all going to be involved in finding a replacement,” Tom Terkel, president of Cencor Urban, tells GlobeSt.com. He adds that “conversations are ongoing” with other multifamily developers.

Post was to have developed the 835 apartment units on the 22-acre project, which also includes 150,000 sf of retail and 65,000 sf of office space. The project finally received a green light earlier this year after several years of negotiations between developers, city and state officials and neighborhood groups.

The Triangle is situated on a triangular-shaped parcel at 45th Street and Lamar Boulevard just north of the Central Market development, which also is on state-owned land. The Triangle has qualified for $7.5 million from the city of Austin’s Smart Growth incentive program. The mental health agency is to receive rental income from the development.

The current plans were greatly scaled back from the original visions of a 70,000-sf grocery store, 27,500-sf bookstore, multiplex theater and 45,000 sf of retail space. In addition, the developer was reserving a site for some 100,000 sf of office space.

While the developers and neighborhood groups battled during Austin’s late 1990s boom, more and more apartments were delivered to the market. Developers built close to 18,000 units from the third quarter 1998 through the 2001 third quarter. And, with the slowdown, absorption is down and the vacancy rate is up.

“Under the current conditions we do not feel we can start any new developments in Austin at the present time,” David Stockert, Post Properties’ president, says in a statement. He adds that the company has done well with its Post West Avenue apartments in the CBD.

Cencor’s Terkel says the project’s retail leasing has been active, but declined to disclose whether leases have been signed.

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