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CONROE, TX-A partnership between Gordon Partners of Houston and Winkler & Associates Inc. has secured construction financing for the retail portion of Waterpoint at Lake Conroe, a mixed-use project on the southern shore. Crews have begun work on the 90,000-sf retail center.

Kevin Holland, a loan officer for Live Oak Capital Ltd. in Houston, arranged the $13.12-million loan through Regions Bank. The two-year, floating-rate loan is 90% of the projected development cost. It is priced 180 basis points over the 30-day LIBOR on an interest-only basis.

“They’ve put together an amazing project,” Holland says. “I’d be hard pressed to point out another project of this quality around Lake Conroe.”

Located at Texas 105 and Tejas Boulevard, the overall project will include two two-story retail buildings facing a park-like plaza, two lakefront restaurant pavilions and four mid-rise residential condominium buildings. It also will have a 2,000-foot lakefront boardwalk with private and public boat slips.

According to Nick Welch, an assistant vice president at Regions Bank in Houston, his company had to compete for the transaction. He says the bank agreed to do a 90% loan-to-value deal because the partnership already owned a portion of the land, reducing the lender’s exposure.

“We like the concept, especially being right there on the water,” Welch tells GlobeSt.com. “We think it’s a great location and thought it was a pretty attractive project.”

A tenant line-up that includes CVS Pharmacy, Starbucks, Snap Fitness, Marble Slab Creamery, Smoothie Factory & Lake Conroe Realty was also highly appealing, Welch continues. “We love this type of retail. Those are great tenants. That’s what we look for in a deal like this,” he says.

According to Scott Gordon, a partner in Gordon Partners, about 50,000 sf has been preleased. The total includes 50% of the 24,000 sf on the second-level space, which is targeted for office and service users. “We are delivering to tenants in January and February for a March 1 opening,” he says, declining to give the quotes for rent.

Gordon and Winkler are partnering on the retail center. The locally based Winkler is the developer of the residential portion, which will be built in four phases. The developer is finalizing construction documents now, with pre-sales for the 63-unit first phase slated to start later this year. The residential component will break ground late this year or early next year, with delivery of the first units scheduled for spring 2009. Prices and units sizes have not been finalized.

US Builders of Houston is the general contractor. Gordon Partners Design designed the retail center and master planned the entire project. The project team includes Ken Anderson & Associates Architects of the Woodlands, TX and Century Engineering of Houston.

“We are receiving 20-plus phone calls per day from people inquiring about the opening date of the retail and the availability of the future waterfront condos,” says James Winkler, president of Winkler & Associates. “Waterpoint will truly be the hot spot on Lake Conroe for visitors and locals alike.”

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