FORT WORTH-Trademark Property Co., with three years invested into the plan, has cleared its last hurdle to put a $100-million mixed-use project on the banks of the Trinity River. The joint-venture project with RP Partners will get its next major push within 90 days when a national hospitality developer, with an upscale boutique flag, finalizes an agreement to build a 135-room hotel.

The River Plaza project will include a full-body makeover of a 140,000-sf office building at 1701 River Run, acquisition of the Silver Fox Steakhouse to set up a sale-leaseback and expansion and 95,000 sf of brand-new specialty retail along University Dr. “You won’t recognize the University area when we’re finished,” says Terry Montesi, CEO of the locally based Trademark and a Fort Worth native whose early career includes developing the neighboring retail, the now fully leased University Park Village.

Trademark’s site totals nearly seven acres, with 600 feet of frontage along University Dr. and another 600 feet along the Trinity River. “It’s one of the finest pieces of mixed-use land in the state,” Montesi says. In a one-mile radius, its neighbors are the city’s cultural district, its medical district, Texas Christian University and upscale neighborhoods of Colonial, Park Hill and Overton Woods. The development site also has direct access to the 35-mile hike and bike trail crisscrossing the city.

A start date has yet to be set, but construction will definitely get under way before the year ends, according to Montesi and Tommy Miller, Trademark’s EVP. The JV cleared the last hurdle Wednesday night when Fort Worth City Council inked an economic development agreement. The first phase will deliver in 2009; the second, including the hotel, will come on line in 2010.

The Trademark team is finalizing a contract with a nationally recognized architect, several leading retailers and, of course, the hotel development company. “We are in the process of finalizing the design and making sure the brand works in the site,” Miller stresses.

The River Plaza project, envisioned to total 320,000 sf, will include room for three more restaurants in the 95,000 sf of new space and 20,000 sf of retail space in the office building, which will remain open during construction in its transition. When the dust settles, there will be 100,000 sf of class A office space that meets today’s standards.

Montesi likens the project’s scope to Mockingbird Station and West Village, both in Dallas. “River Plaza will be a catalyst in the much-needed revitalization of one of the most strategic and underdeveloped districts in the City of Fort Worth,” he says in a press release.

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