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ALLEN, TX-Trademark Property Co. and its joint venture partners have forged three more groundbreaking deals to shore up their positioning in the northeastern tier for their 1.1-million-sf Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm. A residential partner is on board for the $52-million first phase while two more retail anchors have signed for the $232-million town center.

Franklin, TN-based Southern Land Co. LLC has joined the development partnership, led by Trademark and backed by Coventry Real Estate Advisors of New York City and Cleveland-headquartered Developers Diversified Realty. Further fanning the development fire, Ann Arbor, MI-based Borders Group Inc. plans to open a 24,000-sf bi-level store in the 68-acre town center and Studio Movie Grill will plant an eight-screen, 1,300-seat prototype at the northern edge beside the proposed 135-key hotel.

Terry Montesi, CEO of the Fort Worth-based Trademark, tells GlobeSt.com that ground will break in 30 to 45 days on two of the three, as-yet un-branded residential structures. The mixed-use buildings will have street-level retail and four floors of residential units. “We will start out with urban rentals, but we are keeping our options open for future condo conversion,” he says.

Watters Creek has been mapped out for 300 residential units, averaging 1,000 sf to 1,100 sf. The first wave will deliver in spring 2008 in sync with the town center’s first ribbon-cuttings.

“It is more urban execution that what the typical developer is doing,” Montesi explains, likening the design to an urban retail resort. “I really believe it’s the right formula for the future for leisure-shopping customers.” He adds the urban design not only advances the city to “the next level of density,” but it will create a 24/7 full-service community in a fast-growing suburban pocket.

Southern Land’s in-house team will design the residential product and manage and lease it too. Trademark and Southern Land also are development partners in McEwen, TN, a $333-million, mixed-use project with one million sf of commercial space and 950 single- and multifamily units. Site work began last year; the first phase of the residential build-out will break ground in the fall.

In Watters Creek, the Trademark team has signed 135,000 sf of best-in-class restaurants and retailers to date, but there is a long list of deals waiting to be inked in the not-too-distant future. Anchor leases are carrying 15- to 20-year terms and inline deals are running five to 10 years.

Borders has taken a high-profile spot, getting doors along Bethany Drive and the public green. It also will be right beside the 71,600-sf gourmet grocery, Market Street.

Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill is taking down a high-visibility tract at the corner of Bethany Drive and US Highway 75. The chain’s other prototype in the region is the 930,000-sf Arlington Highlands, a lifestyle venue rising along Interstate 20 in Tarrant County.

Montesi says the Borders lease has been under negotiation nearly one year. Studio Movie Grill talks began nearly five months ago.

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