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AUSTIN, TX-Simon Property Group Inc. is moving forward with plans to ground lease 46 acres from the University of Texas for the Shops at Arbor Walk, a 450,000-sf community center that will be anchored by Home Depot. The center is slated to open in phases beginning in late 2006 and ending by mid 2007.

The development site is at the southeast corner of MoPac Boulevard (State Highway 1) and Braker Lane, on the western edge of the University’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus. When the Home Depot opens in the fourth quarter of 2006, it will be at the expense of the existing Home Depot just west of MoPac on Highway 183.

No tenants other than Home Depot have been announced. Simon says it will round out the center with additional large format anchor tenants, as well as in-line specialty retail stores and restaurants. “We are talking to a number of tenants,” says Simon’s SVP of community center development Tom Garvey, who expects to begin moving dirt at the site “soon.”

The Shops at Arbor Walk is a piece of a bigger picture for Simon as the company continues the development of The Domain and Domain Crossing, which are located just north of the intersection. “The increased retail development that is occurring in the immediate area will only bolster the position of The Shops at Arbor Walk and the long term opportunities available for our retailers,” Garvey said.

Simon Property Group is no stranger to Austin, It owns Barton Creek Square, The Arboretum, Gateway Centers and Lakeline Mall, and has more in the development pipeline. Its newest operating property is Wolf Ranch, a 670,000-sf community center in nearby Georgetown, TX. In addition, Round Rock Premium Outlets, a 433,000-sf outlet center, is scheduled to open next fall. In August, GlobeSt.com reported that Simon decided not to renew its option for 145 acres at the intersection of Texas 71 and Texas 304 in Bastrop, TX, which is 30 miles outside Austin. Simon’s Les Morris tells GlobeSt.com that letting its option slide for the Bastrop land is in no way related to its decision to move forward with the Shops at Arbor Walk.

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