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DALLAS-Officials this morning will cut the ribbon on a $3.5-million extension of Montfort Drive, a project paid in full by the Archon Group as a key to getting some deals done for a 1.3-million-sf technology centerpiece to an 88-acre former mall in North Dallas. Clearly, it’s a sign that the high-tech downturn hasn’t totally stalled the Genisus Dallas North development.

Admittedly, there are no leases close to signing, but Archon is pushing out other components that were part of the redevelopment plan from the onset. A 15.1-acre tract is being sold to Zom Texas, a subsidiary of a Netherlands-based high-end residential developer, and a one-acre site to the Florida-based Darden Restaurants for the third Bahama Breeze in North Texas.

Site work begins in November on the 225-unit residential component, with ground breaking most likely in the first quarter. Bahama Breeze also will break ground in early 2003. Zom Texas, looking at its first Texas project, beat out five other developers jockeying for the North Dallas land, the only multifamily-zoned acreage on the site.

Archon had the misfortune to roll out the Dallas end of a nationwide telecom hotel initiative just as the high-tech downturn took hold. The road completion delivers a vital link to the technology center’s marketability–a security moat and secure utilities. “The reason this road is important is that it really does allow us to the deliver the site,” Prudence Pyn-Lidbury, Archon’s vice president of technology real estate, explains to GlobeSt.com.

Pyn-Lidbury confirms Genisus projects elsewhere haven’t had the same difficulties as Dallas. The empty 1.3-million-sf, converted Prestonwood Mall is a direct result of the project’s timing in Dallas and testament to the severity of the high-tech fallout in North Texas, she says.

Through it all, the rest of the Genisus Dallas North development has been overshadowed by the technology center’s hype by media and brokerage community alike. “The reality is it’s always been more than a technology center,” says Pyn-Lidbury. “It’s always been a redevelopment with the technology center as the core.” The center takes up 44 acres in the project area.

Rather than chase grants and delay the redevelopment even longer, Archon put up the cash and 3.8 acres to connect Arapaho and Beltline roads. Now, there are 10 acres on the west side that can be sold and developed with any product except multifamily. Another half-acre is opened up along Beltline and six acres of pad sites along Arapaho. Pyn-Lidbury confides there are several letters of intent in Archon’s hands for several tracts.

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