FRISCO, TX-Agreeing to partner for the first time, General Growth Properties Inc. and Forest City Enterprises Inc. have ended more than one year of competing against each other for retail tenants to anchor large-scale neighboring developments on the city’s southern boundary. Roughly 400 acres will be combined to create a super-regional destination.

Neither powerhouse was available for an interview prior to deadline. A spokeswoman for Chicago-based General Growth says the mixed-use development’s name has yet to be picked. And, she adds “it’s too soon to say when ground will break.”

Jim Gandy, president of the Frisco Economic Development Corp., tells that the city just recently learned that the competitors were planning to wed their sites at the intersection of US Hwy. 380 and the Dallas North Tollway. Both developers bought all or most of their dirt from the Mahard family of Frisco.

“Now that they’ve teamed up, it takes that competition out of the picture,” Gandy points out. “I have to believe they think this is the best thing for them to do. It does make for what appears to be an incredible opportunity for two companies of this significance to team up and create a tremendous project.”

Cleveland-based Forest City had been mapping a $200-million-plus mixed-use plan for its 132 acres. General Growth had been playing its plan close to the vest. In yesterday’s press release announcing the marriage, the developers said master planning will be done for a regional open-air commercial and residential center with a waterfront town square park at its heart. Parvin Creek bisects the development site. At the epicenter of the retail component will be a 1.5-million-sf open-air center with entertainment venues and fine dining. Also planned is a hotel and conference center.

Gandy says the development shouldn’t undermine what’s already in place. General Growth’s 1.6-million-sf Stonebriar Centre is 10 miles south. “I believe what we’ll see is a project at this location that would complement Frisco and the shops we have at Stonebriar,” Gandy says. “It will be a super-regional destination.”

Gandy says the master plan hasn’t hit city desks as yet. But, it does include residential and office space too. And as would be expected, preliminary discussions have been held about securing development incentives from the city.

The marriage “provides the highest level of precision and expertise,” John Bucksbaum, General Growth’s CEO, says in the release. “The retail lineup and dining mix will be stellar as will the mixed-use component.”

Just to keep pace with growth, a series of freeway improvements have been under way for some time. The projects are adding a fifth lane to US Hwy. 380 and extending the Dallas North Tollway into the city, bringing six lanes of toll road and four service lanes. City leaders also have funded a new wastewater treatment plant to service the 380 corridor. The work is under way, with the plan to extend water and sewer lines to the JV partners’ site “when they need it,” Gandy says.

The 72 square-mile city has 96,000 residents today. By 2020, it will have 250,000 to 275,000 residents. To date, 46% of its land is built out, according to Gandy.

When Forest City first staked its claim, it also had projects on the drawing board in nearby Prosper, Mansfield to the south and the Dallas CBD. The Frisco project is the only one for which it’s taken a partner. “Partnering with GGP on this development is a win-win for everyone,” says James A. Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Commercial Group.

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