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(For more retail coverage, click GlobeSt.com/RETAIL and the multifamily market, click here.)

MANSFIELD, TX-A 15-year custom homebuilder, ready to transition to commercial, has paid nearly $4 million for a 17.2-acre gateway site to the 2,600-acre Reserve at Mansfield. The $50.8-million project is slated to break ground by midsummer 2007.

Max Thompson, owner of Legacy Development Co., has picked up the play for a site fronting East Broad Street after several other developers failed to get their contracts across the closing table. “It was never really out of contract for a couple years,” says Aaron Stalberger with Patterson & Associates Commercial Real Estate in Fort Worth. “Max and Legacy got it closed.” Stalberger and Greg Morris with Dunn Commercial LP in Arlington represented the local seller, DCB Properties.

Thompson is patterning the as-yet unnamed development after Legacy Town Center in Plano, using the same architect, RTKL Associates Inc. of Dallas, to craft the design. He tells GlobeSt.com that the site is being mapped out for 58,800 sf of retail and 47,900 sf of office topped off with 127 residential units and flanked by 16 two-story and 71 tri-level townhouses of mostly “for sale” units. The mixed-use project will include a $1.5-million amenity center. If all goes as planned, the first space will deliver before 2007 ends.

Thompson, marking his final year as a homebuilder, is setting his sights on mixed-use projects on select tracts and land development for large residential communities. And for now, he’s focused on Mansfield and Midlothian, where he’s honed his reputation as a homebuilder. He has five projects in the pipeline. “Live, work and play–that’s what is taking off in all the cities,” he says. “We found a great piece at a great price and we jumped on it.”

Thompson says the decision to buy the Broad Street land was its recent incorporation into the Reserve and proximity to a new high school and soon-to-open hospital. “There was no worthiness to it until the Reserve kicked in this year,” he explains.

Thompson’s in-house team initially will prelease the project, but the plan is to hire office and retail pros as the planning process progresses. His goal is to be first out of the ground with the mixed-use project as he goes up against larger plans from the likes of Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises and the joint venture project of Rubloff Development Co. of Chicago and Dallas-based Donahue Development Corp. “I still think that the first person to bring this product to this booming market will win,” Stalberger says.

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