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DALLAS-Two Dallas companies are partnering on a 300-acre purchase in Austin that promises to end a near 10-year wait for periphery development at the 1.3-million-sf Lakeline Mall in the city’s northwest submarket. The land sale will close in the coming months as the partners look to first quarter 2004 for a ground-breaking, GlobeSt.com is told.

JMJ Development and the Parliament Group are replacing Pohl Brown & Associates as the purchaser. Pohl and the owners, a European investment group he managed, have been in a long-running dispute that’s kept development locked down for several years, says Timothy Barton, JMJ Development’s chairman and CEO, who emphasizes that he nor Parliament have ties to Pohl Brown.

Barton tells GlobeSt.com that the highly prized, entitled land has been viewed as “unattainable” due to the strife between Pohl and the European investors, but the new roster of players has “been able to come to terms with the sellers in Europe and create the synergies to get it going.”

JMJ and Parliament are drafting a plan to bring out four simultaneous projects of retail and multifamily. Barton confides talks are underway with owners of another 300 to 350 acres in the immediate area. The project has yet to be given a name or its size clearly defined because the focus has been on securing the property, he says. Though reluctant to disclose the price, he did say that land of that caliber is fetching $3 per sf to $8 per sf. Based on the lowest per sf, the price tag would be at least $39.2 million.

Barton says the land acquisition is being announced before the closing to ensure the Austin brokerage community that the valued tracts “will be under new ownership that is “looking forward to working with the real estate community in Austin as well as the city and economic development to bring job growth and dollars to that area.” Barton says talks have been under way for six months, with Sal Sclafani of Sclafani Investments Inc. of Dallas handling negotiations for JMJ and Parliament, which is led by David Roan of Dallas.

Two tracts, totaling 101 acres, ring the 1.3-million-sf mall, now the region’s second-largest shopping center. The balance is located near major intersections: US Highway 183 and RR 620. Barton thinks mixed-use when he talks shop, much as he managed to get going in southeast Austin with the 1,800-acre Harris Branch and the North Texas teaming of Stonebriar Centre and Frisco Bridges.

The Austin retail climate has attracted most names, but there’s a gap yet to be tapped. For the past year, economic developers have been dangling lucrative incentives to the one who can get names like Lord & Taylor or Abercrombie & Fitch inside the city limits. Barton says he will be chasing any name and any concept new to Austin.

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