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FORNEY, TX-In an off-market deal, a pair of Dallas investment groups has worked out a development deal for 608 acres, setting up a $400-million plan for Kaufman County land.Highland Capital Real Estate Advisors, a division of Highland Capital Management LP, bought the land from Tomlin Investments. The acquisition was led by Dan Tomlin III, who held onto the development role with the land sale, according to Stuart Smith, Highlands’ associate director of real estate acquisitions. Infrastructure work will begin in March.Smith tells GlobeSt.com the development plan for “Rio” calls for 42 acres of multifamily and retail space and 1,500 single-family homes, ranging from $125,000 to $250,000. Key to the mapped-out plan is a 28-acre “amenity center,” the first of its type on the east side of Dallas.The recreation center will sport a 10,000-sf clubhouse, resort-style swimming pool and a “Lazy River” water park with a 30-foot tall pirate ship. Another 11 acres will be donated to Terrell Independent School District for an elementary school and six acres go to the county for a fire and police station.Smith says Tomlin’s plan is to resell tracts to developers, with the retail land coming to market within two years. The best estimate at this stage is the build-out will add 300,000 sf to 350,000 sf of retail space to the area, which has turned into a construction beehive for large-scale residential developments because land prices are the cheapest in the region and it’s basically a 25-mile drive to the Dallas CBD. Rio’s retail land has three-fourths of a mile frontage along US Highway 80.Highland Capital Management formed the real estate division in August. The off-market acquisition is its fourth deal and largest to date, according to Smith. The team also is negotiating to buy 19.5 acres for a class A multifamily development near Georgetown in Central Texas.

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