FORT WORTH-Local joint venture partners Trademark Property Co. and Hillwood have added two more Tarrant County newcomers to the lineup in the under-construction, 300-acre Alliance Town Center. The latest round of dealmaking closes off another 103,800 sf of prime retail space.

Dallas-based Cheddar’s Casual Cafe has grabbed a front row seat with a 2.5-acre pad site to be part of the 600,000-sf first wave for the two-million-sf development along Interstate 35W, Heritage Trace and North Tarrant parkways in North Tarrant County. The development’s opening act will be a 7,800-sf Cheddar’s and 103,000-sf J.C. Penney’s store. The larger catch of the just-signed deals is Charlotte, NC-based Belk Inc., which has inked a long-term lease for a 96,000-sf anchor spot that’s viewed as “the transition piece to the town center,” according to Darrell Lake, senior vice president of Hillwood Properties. Belk’s is part of a fall 2007 delivery that includes Sam Moon Trading Co., a Dallas-based importer of luggage, purses, fashion accessories and home decor who bought 20 acres for his first Tarrant County center.

Lake tells that the Cheddar’s deal has been under negotiation nearly two years and Belk’s lease has taken about six months to seal. The deal marks Belk’s 10th location in Texas and Cheddar’s’ 23rd.

Lake says Belk’s is planning a store with at least two main entrances to fill the key corner that’s emerged as the gateway to the village. There will be only two, maybe three more, spots as large as Belk’s open up in Alliance Town Center. He says letters of intent are in hand to fill another 200,000 sf to 300,000 sf. The fast-paced preleasing has prompted North Texas favorite son, J.C. Penney Co. Inc., to add nearly 5,000 sf to its design.”The interest is overwhelming,” Lake says. “It’s a list of Who’s Who tenants who want to be there.”

Hospital Corp. of America also has expanded its plan for the Alliance plan. The Nashville-based healthcare provider initially bought 60 acres, but came back in recent months to pick up another 13 for a large medical campus to service a population base that grew by 113.56% in five years. According to locally based Residential Strategies Inc., there are now 106,074 residents within a 12-minute drive of the town center site–and nearly 50,000 more projected to settle in within four years. “Alliance Town Center will be their regional stop,” Lake emphasizes.

“Our expectation is to have one million sf of retail committed to Alliance Town Center by the end of next year,” Terry Montesi, president and CEO of Trademark, says in a press release. Stan Lottridge and Aaron Ashmore with United Commercial Realty/ChainLinks in Dallas are handling the town center’s leasing for the partnership.

Hillwood, though, is prepared if it fills all that it plans for the east side of the freeway. “We have another 450 acres on the northeast side of Heritage Trace if we run out of room here,” Lake adds.

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