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GARLAND, TX-A local developer has closed on the gateway tract to a 52-acre site within a stone’s throw of Interstate 635. The estimated $60-million plan for roughly 500,000 sf of big-box retail could get under way in the fall.

Provident Realty Advisors Inc. didn’t return telephone calls to comment on the plan, which has been kept under wraps since its execs walked away with a 38-acre prize in a public auction nearly five months ago. Since then, the developer also pocketed a deed for a vintage, full-service hotel on 10 acres. But, the latest acquisition was the last piece to the South Garland puzzle: a 30,000-sf office building on 3.4 acres with a clear view of the interstate. Seller Phase One Equities of Santa Fe, NM reportedly got slightly more than the $975,920 county assessment for the 1500-80 Eastgate Dr. property.

“This is the gateway,” Thomas Clarke with Grubb & Ellis Co. in Dallas stresses to GlobeSt.com. “I had it listed for about one year. Provident’s been looking at for over eight months. They were the logical buyer.”

The office building and its hotel neighbor have dates with the wrecking ball just like the 800-unit Villages of Eastgate, a vintage, federally subsidized project that the city took over eight years ago, positioned on the 38 acres. “To open up the vision corridor, they needed those properties,” says Greg Sims, vice president of the Garland Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development office.

Sims says crews started razing the apartment complex in February and then stopped to deal with an EPA issue. The ball’s been picked up again, he says, estimating it will take 90 days to clear the land, bordered by Shiloh and Saturn roads and Northwest Highway.Munal Farukil, the city’s senior planner, says Provident has yet to submit a site plan. And when it does, the project will require a public hearing although the land’s already zoned for retail build-out.

Sims says city officials are “hoping” construction will start in the fall. The buzz is Provident is building a regional center filled with big boxes and junior anchors. However, everyone involved in the game realizes dirt can’t turn until some anchors fall into place.

The City of Garland is second only to Dallas in population and land mass in Dallas County. Sims says the city’s 57 square miles are 86% built out, but retail development has reached an all-time high. Just in the past year, developers have started work on an estimated $200 million of projects to add upward of 1.5 million sf to the five-million-sf retail inventory.

Around the same time that Provident got the Villages, it also struck a joint venture with the Los Angeles-based Red Sea Group for a similar play in nearby North Dallas. The JV picked up the 857-unit Lakeside at Walnut Hill complex at 9837 Central Expressway and 50,000-sf Willow Creek Shopping Center in an off-market transaction for considerably less than the one-time ask of $52 million. The plan is to rebuild retail and residential on the 42 acres at the junction of Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane.

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