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FORT WORTH-After four years of planning, a 30-acre, mixed-use project overlooking the Trinity River is ready to break out of the gate by securing $17.1 million in new capital to refill the development till. The funding readies the stage for infrastructure work to begin and opens the door for the first land sales to close in August.

Tom Struhs, principal in Wide Open Spaces Ltd. in Fort Worth, secured dual loans with three-year terms and interest-only payments to forge ahead on Trinity Bluff, a mix of residential, retail and office tucked between the Fort Worth CBD and the Trinity River. The financing package was six months in the making.

Brandon Miller, senior associate with Dallas-based Metropolitan Capital Advisors Ltd., tells GlobeSt.com that Omni American Credit Union in Fort Worth reworked an existing $10-million loan with an interest rate hovering 10% into a $12-million vehicle. A second loan, $5.1 million, was secured through Compass Bank’s Dallas office. The just-signed package, with a 7.5% fixed-rate interest, represents a 55% loan-to-value ratio and carries “substantial pay-downs” within six to nine months due to upcoming land sales, he adds.

According to Miller, Struhs needed the capital infusion to retire old debt and gather fresh funds to begin infrastructure work so land sales could begin. The first in line is Lincoln Property Co. in Dallas, which has dibs on 15 acres for four phases, but is starting out with 4.4 acres for 300 apartments. Alan McDonald of Dallas, founder and former owner of CityHomes Inc., will buy 1.5 acres in partnership with Struhs to develop the first phase of “for sale” townhouses in the $200,000 to $350,000 range. McDonald is undertaking his first development since 1999 when he sold CityHomes Inc. to Dallas-based Centex Corp. and was locked down by a non-compete clause that just expired.

Struhs spent four years assembling 180 contiguous lots for Trinity Bluff. Miller says “the pioneering nature” of Struhs’ plan needed local lenders who understood the terrain. “We knew we were facing a real challenge … to parcel that off and sell to developers is not going to happen overnight,” he says of a master plan including retail and office development sites.

Aside from the financial transaction’s complexity, Struhs had to sit tight until Tarrant County Community College decided if it wanted the site. “They eventually passed and the lenders were ready to close,” Miller says.

The infrastructure work will consist of new streets and utility lines. Struhs is kicking in $3 million and Fort Worth is chipping in $5 million, says Miller, who worked the deal along with Metropolitan Capital’s principal Scott Lynn. The loan arrangers were David Clay with Omni American and Craig Davis with Compass Bank.

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