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HOUSTON-While the announced year-end closing of Six Flags Inc.’s AstroWorld theme park is likely to disappoint the visitors who flock there to experience everything from Looney Tunes to thrill rides, the Greater Houston real estate community is gearing up for what sources point out could be an extremely interesting redevelopment and repositioning.

The property’s proximity to the medical center area–combined with the increasing value of land in the area–makes the 109 acres of the amusement park, which is currently on the selling block, a potential gold mine for those who want to bid on the property. As soon as word hit the street that AstroWorld’s for sale, the Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. marketing team started getting telephone calls.

“When this was announced, my phone started ringing until I got home,” says David Cook C&W’s executive vice president who’s teaming with Jeff Peden and Marshall Davidson to sell the site for Six Flags Inc. of Oklahoma City. “We’ve gotten at least a dozen requests for confidentiality agreements, which get them on the list for further details. There is a high degree of interest in this property.” He tells GlobeSt.com interest in the land is so high that a deal could close before first quarter 2006.

Such news and information does not come as a surprise to Bob Lanier, former mayor of Houston, who now manages his own real estate firm. “It’s something that’s fairly common in the real estate business,” he says, noting land can be used for one purpose year after year while increasing in value. As a result, “value is maximized by the owner and the owner decides to sell,” he says. “Overall, it’s healthy and it helps drive a more efficient real estate market.”

While the value of the theme park’s dirt hasn’t been fully disclosed, Cook says prices on land can range anywhere from $25 per sf in the single-family residential areas to as much as $200 per sf in the medical district.

The land’s proximity to the Texas Medical Center is only one reason for potential development. Harris County community and economic development director David Turkel points out the property is located inside the fast-growing Inner Loop and it’s along the light-rail line. “This is likely to be a wonderful area for retail and commercial development, possibly with a medical component,” Turkel says.

As a result, sources believe the future of today’s theme park will likely be tomorrow’s mixed-use development. “No one has called and said they want to build office buildings there, but otherwise, we’ve had interest from retail and multi-use developments from medical as well as land developers,” Cook says.

Lanier acknowledges multifamily development might be a little less desirable for the site. “That’s overdone in our market right now,” he says. What he does foresee is a mixed-use area, with potential focus on the medical center. “That’s one of the true growth industries,” he adds.

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