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FORT WORTH-The inside scoop in Dallas-based Trophy Investments’ coup for a 274,000-sf, nine-building package on five city blocks is that it never came to market. The short version of how it came down is a Trophy partner asked a broker “what else do you have” as a deal for two other Camp Bowie centers started to unravel about six months ago.

Now, Trophy’s partners are holding deeds to landmark property, bought from the developers’ heirs some 60 years after the building began at Ridglea Avenue and Camp Bowie. Street talk is the properties, though shouldering a 70% occupancy and need of repair, went for more than its $17 million assessed value.

David Burgher, a partner in Trophy Investments, tells GlobeSt.com that more than $20 million will be spent to re-brand, re-energize and re-tenant with high-end national and regional retailers. The Village at Camp Bowie, being planned as a 350,000-sf lifestyle center, will have the panache of Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, AZ as well as its world-renowned architect, Brad Nelsen, Burgher’s longtime friend and principal of Nelsen & Associates, with offices in Scottsdale and Austin.

Bugher says the coup was made possible because the developers’ heirs–Patsy Cantrell and Vivian and Steve Wilson–didn’t have heirs who wanted to take over the 21-acre holding. “The timing was right,” Burgher says of the decision to approach the sellers who had rejected overtures from others several times over through the years.

To close the deal, Scott Lynn, director and principal of Dallas-based Metropolitan Capital Advisors Ltd. put together a complicated, double transaction with SouthTrust Bank and Texas Capital Bank. The location, the size of the tract and the plan “to do something special” won over the lenders, says Burgher, who along with his investors are tackling the largest project of their careers.

The corridor’s dominant architecture, Mediterranean/Spanish, will be reflected in the makeover, but updated with 2004 lines. “We feel we can create a sense of place for people to ‘come out of the bricks,’” Burgher says.

The first construction wave at 6323 and 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd. begins between mid-April and May 1. A 20,000-sf vacant building will be razed, 125,000 sf will get cosmetic upgrades and another 125,000 sf will get a major overhaul. The work will wrap up in September. Another 90,000 sf will be built in a second phase set to start within a year, according to Burgher.

Besides Burgher, the buy side consists of Trophy partners, Bo Brownlee and B. Diane Butler and Matt Herring, partner in Trophy’s leasing and management group, Camp Bowie Interests. The native Texans had several things working in their favor, including an inroad with one seller who’s a longtime friend of Herring. Rodger Chieffalo of Chieffalo Realty in Dallas and Herring brokered the transaction.

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