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LEWISVILLE, TX-A pre-leasing level of 35% has brought out construction on the first of five mixed-use buildings for the 15-acre Village Center of Castle Hills, a 2,500-acre community with 650 acres slated for commercial development in southeastern Denton County.

The first to rise is a residential and retail design, one of two while still to come will be three retail and office combos. The first wave of retail is being anchored by a 5,400-sf restaurant, Abril’s Cantina, a new Tex-Mex family dining concept that is hoped to be the flagship to a chain.

Scott Munn, who recently sold his interest in Jus Mex in the Hartford Building in the Dallas CBD, has gamed out the new restaurant concept, testing the waters in a community where he is building his house. The concept includes a 1,000-sf, glass-enclosed entertainment area for the 16 year old and under crowd. “When the kids are finished eating, the parents don’t have to rush,” says Munn, the father of a three-year-old son who now is well versed in the trials and tribulations of taking a youngster to dinner.

A recent study in Castle Hills showed 80% of the families have children 15 years old and under, according to Munn, who also owns Resource Document, a producer of corporate sales manuals. The supervised entertainment center will be filled with such attention-getters as family-friendly video games, televisions and books so parents can watch their children and dine at their leisure.

Munn says he looking for another site in North Texas to open a second Abril’s Cantina. He anticipates that location could be locked up in seven months.

Michelle Caplan and Scott Rose, both with Dallas-based Weitzman Group hold the leasing assignment for the Village Center at Castle Hills. The restaurant joins Liberty Postal Express, Perfect Nails and Hill Bros. Dry Cleaning, says Scott Morris, Castle Hills’ director of development.

Morris says he’s already fielded several calls from would-be owners for the townhouse component, where 3,400-sf floor plans will carry price tags of $350,000. Meanwhile, the leasing team is in serious negotiations with several other retail tenants, he tells GlobeSt.com, adding that the expectation is the building will fill rapidly once vertical construction begins.

At build-out, the Village Center will have 14 residential units and 150,000 sf of street-level retail and second-floor office space. The first building, which delivers in January 2004, will contain eight three-story townhouses and 26,000 sf of retail. The community is 20 miles north of Dallas and 11 miles from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

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