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FORNEY, TX-A Dallas land speculator, making a move into development, has zeroed in on 95 acres in Kaufman County for his next big play. Land reclamation will get under way in the summer, but the ballpark estimate is the flood plain land will yield 36 developable acres.

Jeff Libby, executive vice president of Standridge Cos., tells GlobeSt.com that the land will be built out with a 250,000-sf shopping center and 10 pad sites. He says the Forney Crossing pad sites should be ready to sell in late 2006 or early 2007. Preleasing also begins next year but, he says, the groundbreaking is still a long way off.

Standridge’s land is a going-home corner at the intersection of US Highway 80 and FM 460 and next to a residential development, Travis Ranch. The developer bought the acreage from the William E. Armentrout Foundation, which was represented by Wayne Robinson with Dallas-based Henry S. Miller. The acreage was on the market for $1.9 million.

Standridge picked up the deal when Robinson took it to a co-worker, Libby’s brother Brent, who now works for Land Advisors LLC in Dallas. “He thought it fit our criteria of what we like to invest in,” the Standridge executive vice president says.

Libby says the all-in development cost would exceed $15 million based on today’s construction costs, but what it will be when it’s time to start is anybody’s guess. Forney’s residential growth has been on a fast-track in recent years, but the acreage is “still a little too green,” Libby says. “We’re holding it till the market comes.”

Stacey Standridge and the team historically have been retail land speculators. The firm’s portfolio has 30 properties: seven shopping centers and the balance in land holdings. With the interest in development, Standridge also has picked up a stake in a 35-acre project in McKinney. The company is teaming with Arcus Realty Corp. and Phoenix Capital Partners, both Dallas firms, to develop a grocery-anchored center similar to Forney Crossing.

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