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FORNEY, TX-A Dallas developer and Bentonville, AR’s discount superstar have come to terms on a 20.4-acre tract after negotiating for 1.5 years for the anchor positioning to a $65-million retail development, the first of its kind for Kaufman County’s fastest growing city.

George Allen, president of Oakridge Investments Inc., tells GlobeSt.com that Wal-Mart will break ground in second quarter 2004 on a 183,000-sf supercenter at which time the development group hopes to kick off work on part of its 74-acre balance in the city. Mustang Crossing at build-out will have 550,000 sf of retail, including Wal-Mart, along the soon-to-be-completed FM 548, which is being widened to four lanes and opening a development pipeline to a trade area with a projected 1,000 housing starts per year.

Allen, co-developing the land with Addison, TX-based Christon Co., says talks are under way with national names for sites on both sides of the road. The plan contains seven pad sites and 100,000 sf in an 80-20 split between junior anchors and traditional shop space, respectively. If all goes well, pad sites could start delivering by third or fourth quarter 2004; inline space most likely will take until 2005.

Allen isn’t tipping his hand, but did say he’s holding a letter of intent from a home improvement retailer for a 15-acre tract. The Christon Co. is pre-leasing the project, planned as a long-term hold for the development team.

Bought about two years ago, the land sits at the northeast corner of US Highway 80 and FM 548 just 20 miles east of Downtown Dallas–its attraction for homebuilders who’ve been buying large blocks of land as metroplex boundaries apply pressure to neighboring counties. In fact, Oakridge’s first foray into this city was as developer of the 369-lot Fox Hollow, one of four major housing projects that has brought the rooftops for the retail.

Allen likens the city’s growth on the eastern side to the northern push in the early 1990s toward Frisco. Three years ago, Oakridge tapped that momentum to debut a 100-acre, 908,450-sf regional power center, the Centre at Preston Ridge, adjacent to Stonebriar Centre. “We’re trying to accomplish the same thing in Forney,” Allen says.

In recent years, local officials have been proactively courting development of all types while pushing to get FM 548 widened so it too can mine revenue-generating and budget-sustaining veins from sales and property taxes of commercial and residential growth. Mustang Crossing, Allen is quick to point out, will be the first significant retail to rise as competition for residents’ closest national retail lineups, a 10-mile trek in either direction.

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