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WATAUGA, TX-A Houston developer has put Dallas/Fort Worth in his sights, buying a hard corner at a “Main and Main” intersection in a Tarrant County suburb. The acquisition is the first of three set to close this year for a North Texas pipeline of retail projects.

Jim Wallace of Wallace/Halpin LLC tells GlobeSt.com that the first project, with Verizon in 50% of the space, will break ground in November and deliver in first quarter 2005. Verizon has made a long-term commitment for the 6,000-sf building, set to rise on three-fourths of an acre at the junction of US Highway 377 and North Tarrant Parkway in Watauga. The all-in development cost hovers $2 million. Daniel Taylor with Staubach Co.’s Dallas office is preleasing the multi-tenant building.

Wallace says he’s scouting sites in North Texas for other retailers besides Verizon although it does have first dibs on the locations. “I pick good sites and there is always somebody who wants to be there,” he says.

Wallace says he’s holding two more contracts for key suburban sites, one in Dallas and the other in Fort Worth. He says the going-forward plan for the 10-year-old company is to start work on one small retail project per month. Development sites will range from three-fourths of an acre to 1.5 acres; centers will run from 6,000 sf to 10,000 sf.

Wallace laid cash on the line in a 45-day start-to-finish transaction for the Watauga site, bought from EZ Mart Stores Inc. An existing convenience store will be razed to make way for the Verizon-anchored building.

Wallace says the North Texas focus arose because small suburban sites in his homeport have been “picked over.” He’s also eyeing some markets in Florida. The developer has several power centers and high-end residential coming out of the ground in Houston and has developed retail centers in Southern California.

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