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HIGHLAND VILLAGE, TX-Regency Centers Corp. will break ground in early 2006 on an estimated $80-million, lifestyle center on a 43-acre tract at the “main and main” of a North Texas suburb. In a rare move for the Jacksonville, FL-based REIT, it’s outsourced the leasing for the 375,000-sf Highland Village Marketplace.

“I think they realized the success we had in the lifestyle arena with Southlake Town Square and they are looking to duplicate that success,” says Mickey Ashmore, president of UCR Urban in Dallas. He’s partnering with his long-time Southlake teammate, Jack Breard, CEO of the locally based City Commercial Realty, for the Regency play.

West Miller, Regency’s senior vice president of investments, says the land assembly is in various stages of closing by joint venture partner, Hermansen Land Development of Dallas. Miller says Highland Village Marketplace, with an all-in development cost pushing $80 million, could end up adding as much as 400,000 sf to the 1.5 million sf that’s under construction or planned on all sides of the FM 2499-407 intersection. The Regency center, designed by Dallas’ O’Brien & Associates, is scheduled to deliver in early 2007.

“We are going forward. There are no hurdles,” Miller tells GlobeSt.com. “We have a commitment from Highland Village for the TIF dollars. We have started closing on the land and Mickey’s started negotiations.” Opening quotes start in the high $20 per sf range and end in the low $30 per sf for the class A shop space.

Ashmore, confident in the location’s drawing power, says the project’s already secured “real firm interest” from Barnes & Noble, Talbot’s, Coldwater Creek and Ann Taylor Loft. “We feel we will have a comparable tenant mix to the beginning phase of Southlake Town Square,” he says. Talks also have begun with two specialty grocers and a theater, according to Miller. The goal is to seat 60 retailers before the campaign’s done.

Highland Village was relatively dormant on the development front until two years ago when a seasoned local commercial broker briefly tackled economic development tasks for the city, working up enticing market research for his peers. The three-mile trade area now holds 60,000 residents with an average annual income of $130,000. And that, says Ashmore, is better than the numbers that he started with in Southlake. “This intersection is already becoming the retail destination for South Denton County,” he says.

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