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DENTON, TX-A $50-million retail project is ramping up for a construction start in Denton, a university town north of Dallas. When all is said and done, the city will have another 470,000 sf of retail, all coming out at the same time.

The plan is to open Denton Crossing, a 52-acre power center at the crossroads of South Loop 288 and Brinker Road, in fall 2003. The last 18 months of planning pushed pre-leasing to 70%, Ben Hummel, vice president of development for Dallas-based Hunt Properties Inc., tells GlobeSt.com. Another “two or three” of the high-rolling retail names in the Denton Crossing mix will be signed in 30 to 60 days, he says.

What’s in store for the fast-growing Brinker Road corridor is a 24,000-sf Bed, Bath & Beyond, the newest of the brand names to be signed. Steven A. Lieberman of the Weitzman Group in Dallas represented the tenant in the talks for the 10-year pact. Previously signed was a 62,000-sf Kroger Signature anchor, 30,000-sf Best Buy, 28,000-sf TJ Max, 22,000-sf Marshalls, 18,000-sf World Market and 10,000-sf Famous Footwear. Some deals have been announced piecemeal, but the project itself has been kept extraordinarily low key while all the puzzle pieces were being pulled together by a joint venture team of Hunt and the Chicago office of Tokyo-based Orix Real Estate Equities Inc. Hunt Properties is now ready to talk about its largest development in its DFW history.

The final land buy closed in recent weeks, flashing a green light for site work by L.H, Lacy of Dallas. The design of Dallas’ O’Brien Associates Inc. will rise on an assembly of five tracts situated east of Interstate 35 and a stone’s throw from Wal-Mart and its periphery retail followers. A Brinker Road interstate exit will be cut and will bisect Denton Crossing which, Hummel says, is serving as “a catalyst” for road improvements that connect to Texas 380, a feeder to McKinney, another high-growth area that has developers mining opportunities north of the Dallas city limits. On the northeast corner of Brinker Road, ground recently broke on an Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse and On the Border.

The immediate trade area numbers close to 80,000 residents. Key to Denton Crossing’s success is the fact that the nearest retail of its type is about 15 miles south. “They’ve been looking for these type of retail people for a long time in Denton,” Hummel says.

Princeton Partners of Dallas, led by Tony Filley, Robert Aycock and David Fogel, is the point team for the Denton Crossing pre-leasing. The low-profile trio with a high-profile delivery was responsible for the ring road development of more than one million sf of retail at the 1.6-million-sf Stonebriar Centre. Hummel, who says the 470,000 sf builds out the site, believes at the present pace that the project will be filled by ribbon-cutting time.

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