DALLAS-A 70-acre redevelopment in Northeast Dallas is no longer a pipedream. In a first-time teaming, Prescott Realty Group and Cypress Real Estate Advisors Inc. will pick up the play for a $300-million-plus, mixed-use development.

Six other developers have failed to get the project off the ground in the past four years. It was the aligning of a bond package, tax increment financing district and Dallas Area Rapid Transit plan for a new station that brought the Texas-seeded JV to the table. “When we saw that happening, we made the move to put everything under contract,” says Vance Detwiler, managing director and principal for the Dallas-based Prescott. “I felt like it was something that could succeed.”

The Lake Highlands Town Center’s preliminary plan calls for 250,000 sf to 300,000 sf of retail, 50,000 sf to 100,000 sf of office and more than one million sf of residential units of various types, including 100 townhouses and patio homes. The residential build-out has a 20% affordable component. Detwiler tells GlobeSt.com that he’s interviewed two retail developers and will decide within two weeks which one will be the JV’s partner for the urban-retail component.

The mixed-use space will replace three class C complexes that are 50% occupied. More than 1,400 units will be scraped: Whispering Creek on the northeast corner of Walnut Hill Lane and Skillman Road; Sutter Woods at the southeast corner and its abutting neighbor, Bella Palms. Detwiler expects to close the deals with the three sellers in late April or early May, delivering its Austin-based equity partner’s inroad into Dallas/Fort Worth. Cypress’ mixed-use and residential footprints are located in Houston and Florida.

The JV will honor existing leases and offer relocation packages. To ready the site, the existing structures must undergo asbestos abatement before they can be razed. Detwiler says the abatement will get underway in the summer and take nine months to complete. The plan is to start demolition work in the fourth quarter or early 2008 as buildings are freed up and cleaned up. Detwiler says the owner of a dry-cleaning store has assumed full responsibility for remediation of an environmental issue at Whispering Creek.

RTKL Associates Inc.’s Dallas team master-planned Lake Highlands, which has been mapped out with 20 acres of open space for lakes and parks to offset 40 acres being pulled from the flood plain to make the numbers work. The development site backs up to White Rock Creek and DART’s Blue Line rail. “There are 18 months of horizontal development before we can go vertical,” Detwiler says. Additional architectural contracts, including landscaping, will be awarded in the coming weeks.

Detwiler says it will take 18 to 24 months to deliver the project, bringing it to fruition as close as possible to DART’s 2010 plan to open a station on Whispering Creek’s eastern boundary. Lake Highlands Town Center will be a traditional transit-oriented development: street-level retail topped off by offices and residential units. He says the pedestrian-friendly plan will have wide sidewalks and community patios, likening the proposal to the city’s West Village or State Thomas neighborhoods. The retail is envisioned as lifestyle, a mix of local, regional and national. Talks have begun with several retailers, but the full-court press will be at ICSC’s May confab in Las Vegas.

Dallas City Councilman Bill Blaydes has been relentless in his pursuit of a developer to make the vision a reality. Detwiler says he’d followed the project’s ups and downs, opening talks about six months ago when public funding took shape. “Mr. Blaydes worked tirelessly to bring together all the public sector interests necessary to create the Skillman Corridor Tax Increment Financing District,” Detwiler says in a press release. And that, he explains, was the dowry that was needed “to get over the hump to make this happen.”

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