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DALLAS-With a key residential and retail groundbreaking just weeks away, Hillwood’s Victory development has cornered its first tenant and one of the city’s top boutique operators for an anchor slot. The 20,000-sf, bi-level shop will include personalized nooks for customers and designers, including runway space.

Ort and Orlando Varona, owners of Octane in the West Village and Premium93 at 3699 McKinney Ave., will debut their latest and largest boutique, Lift, which is being conceptualized so the show can one day go on the road to other metros. Ort Orlando says Lift might end up filling the entire retail block, 27,000 sf, in one of two eight-story buildings that Hillwood’s poised to begin in the coming weeks. The sister structure will contain another 20,000 sf or retail and 90 residential units.

“This is to retail in Dallas what Victory is to lifestyle in Dallas,” Jonas Woods, president of Hillwood Capital, tells The Lift lease, inked for the long term, took one year to close–the first signing for a series of announcements timed to precede the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Nov. 10 show in New York City. The retail leasing team has letters of intent and pending leases to fill another 30,000 sf of retail and restaurant space in the $100-million Victory plan, Woods confides.

Hillwood is partnering with San Diego-based Fairfield Residential LLC on the two mixed-use buildings, now being prepped to rise beside the W Hotel & Residences. The plan calls for a simultaneous delivery in spring 2006. Construction on the 32-story W has reached the third floor. As for the upcoming construction, Woods says “it’s just a matter of getting our permits. The financing’s done.” Another two retail buildings could break ground in January 2005.

It’s been 18 months since Hillwood picked up the development ball on the long-awaited complementary development beside American Airlines Center. “The velocity and the momentum has been phenomenal,” Woods says. “It’s much more than we anticipated. I’m not sure anybody anticipated it would have this kind of momentum.”

Victory, being marketed as part of Uptown, is touted as the city’s first urban neighborhood from the ground up, with 20 blocks instead of pockets of mixed-use success stories. With American Airlines Center as the lone component for several years on a freeway-fronting, brownfield site, the under-construction W gets credit for seeding residential and retail development.

Ross Perot Jr. and his Victory team are generating an innovative mix–first-timers to the city like Las Vegas’ Ghostbar and native unique boutiques like Lift–to add new lights to the Dallas skyline. “It’s a pretty high-end neighborhood, but I think it’s something Dallas really wants,” Woods says.

Varona will use Lift to try out a new retail concept on the Dallas crowd: a 1,000-sf, personalized “closet” that can be reserved and outfitted with sizes and styles for customers with limited shopping time. Varona says the made-to-order “closet” can be stocked with apparel, art, electronics, luggage and even furniture. Likewise, up to 4,000 sf will be earmarked as designer space for wholesale showrooms, where brand names control layouts rather than their goods “hanging in spaces I designed,” says the boutique operator.

Varona says Lift’s design will include runway space for private showings, a personal care salon and restaurant. Premium93 takes up 3,500 sf and Octane measures 1,200 sf, but both like the new kid on the block will showcase bridge and designer collections like Ted Baker of London, J. Lindeberg of Stockholm and Adriano Goldschmeid.

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