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DALLAS-The locally based Shafer Property Co., armed with a near $13.8-million construction loan, is ready to break ground on a 35,000-sf retail plaza in Uptown, a 2.9-acre tract that once held the Red Cross’ headquarters building. The project, tentatively called Uptown Plaza, is 40% pre-leased.

Still to be decided, though, is whether about one acre will be traded to the Hotel ZaZa’s owners so they can build a condo tower. “I can see the rationale in keeping it (the acreage) whole,” says Brad Donnell, senior director for Dallas-based Metropolitan Capital Advisors Ltd. Ground is due to break any day, he adds.

“The only thing holding him (Steve Shafer) back is maybe the weather,” Donnell says. “They’re funded and good to go. It’s coming regardless of whether that tract sells or not…and they can build without making that decision.” The 24-month construction funding, representing 80% loan to value, was placed with SouthTrust Bank/Wachovia, he tells The floating-rate loan, now 4.25%, is based on a 30-day Libor plus 225 basis points, according to Donnell.

So far, Shafer’s team has lined up Faidi’s, a Mediterranean restaurant now in the developer’s Knox Park project, Pei Wei Asian Diner, the Havana Room cigar club and Lakeside Cleaners. Donnell says the Uptown location, across the street from the trophy Crescent, and the ability to lock in leases with rents ranging from $45 per sf to $55 per sf were key factors in securing a construction loan with a 40% pre-leasing.

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