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RICHARDSON, TX-Award-winning architect Mark Humphreys has laid out plans for a $55-million townhome development on 17.3 acres in Lennox Center. The 256 townhomes represent his first development project in seven years in Dallas/Fort Worth.

“I’ve pulled out all the stops on this one,” Humphreys, one of the nation’s top multifamily residential architects and president of development arm, Atticus Real Estate, tells GlobeSt.com. “I’ve put everything that I’ve got into this in terms of design and materials. The location is irreplaceable.” Humphreys spent the past year negotiating the carve-out from the 130-acre Lennox Center and securing zoning changes for land at the corner of Campbell Road and Lake Park Boulevard.

Humphreys says ground will break within six weeks on Lake Park Townhomes, “for sale” product in a mixed-use setting controlled by Lennox International Inc. The 120-unit first phase is scheduled to deliver in April. The sales trailer moves onto the site next week, with marketing set to begin in early October although he says he’s already holding about a dozen reservations since word’s reached the street about his latest undertaking.

Lake Park Townhomes will be comprised of “estate” and “urban” floor plans in a gated development with a pond and waterfalls. The “estate” design, targeting empty nesters, is a two-story unit with 1,700 sf to 2,600 sf. The three-story “urban” designs run from 1,500 sf to 1,700 sf. Humphreys says the townhomes will be tagged at $180,000 to $300,000. He predicts Lake Park will be sold out in two years.

Humphreys, with a Dallas-based equity backer, is finalizing the construction financing. He’s also in the process of negotiating with a general contractor. Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.’s regional office in Dallas holds the civil engineer and landscape architect contracts.

The land was zoned for office and retail, part of a stronghold that Lennox assembled in the late 1980s through the Resolution Trust Corp. Jim Jamerson, senior vice president for United Commercial Realty/ChainLinks in Dallas says it took some convincing to sway the corporate giant’s shareholders to sell the land for residential use since it was bought to protect the headquarters from infringement by multifamily developers after the original office park plan cratered in the wake of the real estate collapse. “It was hard for them to envision residential in a corporate campus, but it turned around with the quality of Humphreys’ project,” he explains.

Humphreys says he’s watched as Lennox sold tracts to retail developers for a 188,000-sf shopping center and 112,000-sf Home Depot while other surrounding acreage was built up by the University of Texas at Dallas. It was his belief in “a higher and better use” for the land that drove him to make a pitch for the land to Jamerson, who teams with UCR’s Darrell Hernandez to market the property for Lennox subsidiary, AOC Land Investments and local development partner, Henson-Williams Realty.

The property owners have another 35 acres on the market for $7 per sf to $7.50 per sf. Jamerson says no letter of intent is in hand, but there are “a couple hotel groups” looking for franchisees for a Lennox Center development. And part of the land is still being held in reserve for its original use–office product. But that kind of development, Jamerson stresses, will be purely based on demand.

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